Jo Sealy of the Waltham Forest Business Network meets founder Iga Sielenko, who makes the brand’s signature, ethically-produced wooden toys…
Following the birth of her son Orson, Iga Sielenko discovered a new world of wooden toys and children’s room decor – plus a brand new business opportunity.
“I noticed there wasn’t much choice when it comes to modern, ethically-produced wooden toys in the UK,“ explains Iga. “Especially toys that would appeal both to adults and children, be good for the environment and encourage open-ended play.”
Iga set about filling that gap with the creation of Happy Little Folks in July 2014. Iga designs, makes and sources handcrafted, ethical and sustainable wooden toys, nursery decor and homewares, all sold online.
She says: “I started off with a tiny Etsy shop selling hand-painted wooden blocks. Now, through the business I work with influencers and brands, selling my products all around the world.”
Iga stocks her own unique designs, which are painted by hand to fit a client’s custom colour choices, to complement their nursery or home decor. The company also exclusively stocks designs by carefully-chosen artisans from around Europe.
However, Iga admits to experiencing “tears and sweat” to create that illusive balance of work and personal life.
“Working for yourself usually means working 24/7,” she explains. “This brought a lot of guilt and stress as a mum. I wanted to be there for my son but I also wanted to create and make a living from my passion. Renting out a studio, moving away from home-working, was one of the best decisions ever. It’s enabled me to separate work and life.”
Despite the pandemic, 2020 became a pivotal year of organic growth for the business – which has benefitted from the surge in online shopping and public support for small indie businesses.
Even the challenges of Brexit – as the brand’s supply chains have been directly affected – aren’t slowing down Iga’s 2021 plans, including expansion of the product range, recruiting admin support and opening a shop, once life after lockdown has settled.
“I love what I do. It is extremely satisfying to see my little brand growing. It doesn’t feel like work at all, I just enjoy myself most of the time and I feel it all has a purpose, as I work for myself and my family. I also feel connected to my customers. That’s one of the perks of being an indie brand.”
To learn more, visit the Happy Little Folks website
If you run or know of a great small business in Waltham Forest, email email@example.com