Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in retail but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jerome Hajek, founder of KIMBOO Toys, eco-friendly wooden & evolutive toys made in Canada.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We produce eco-friendly wooden & evolutive toys, exclusively made in Canada and sold in North America, mainly through our website www.kimboo.ca
Tell us about yourself
Entrepreneurship is a second "career" for me - I started KIMBOO at age 43, after 20 years in the financial services industry and a few years of early retirement (Worst idea ever! Now I know that I will be working until the last day of my life if possible). I realized that I did want to be active in the "back nine" of my life, but with a purpose. It wasn't only about making money this time around. I also knew that I did not want to have a boss or investors. I wanted to be on my own - well, with my life and now business partner, Monika (alone alone is too boring).
We have a business where we make kids happy, parents as well, as they see their kids play on their toys. We want to make sure young kids stay away from screens as much as possible in the first years of their life; it is one of our objectives. We want to keep kids active and creative! All of our toys are made in Canada, which we are very proud of - we support our local Canadian economy. We love to give back - we plant 10 trees for every order on our website. We never refuse a demand for toys from a foundation or community center. Coming from a financial background, I obviously want the business to be financially sound for the long-term - it is a priority. Otherwise, there could be No business, No salaries, No kids having fun on our toys, No trees planted, No donations, etc. All of the above is a great motivation by itself.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
On the technical and financial side - selling our first wobble board was a great (new) feeling, and then our 10,000th toy in 2021 after less than 3 yrs in business. On the emotional side - knowing that there are thousands of Canadian families playing on our toys daily. It is definitely gratifying. I often remind myself of this big picture, of the mission, of the original WHY. This brings back a smile on my face pretty quickly.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
Actually, I will say something not very popular - It is much harder to be a great father/husband than being a great business owner - for me anyways. We have two babies, and for myself, the weekend starts on Monday morning and finishes Friday at 5 PM!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Again, something we don't hear often, but how hard it is to start and grow a business is a bit overrated IMO. Yes, you will work hard, sometimes long hours, but if it's fun, who cares? Definitely jump into the project, don't wait too long as I did. Once you jump, you will make adjustments accordingly. Forget about projections, excel spreadsheets, don't waste your time on such things. Make sure you have a product/service that people will find value in and will buy. Make sure you make a profit on each unit sold and multiply the concept. Try to keep a majority of shares of your business; otherwise, you may make money down the road (or may not), but you're not the boss anymore (unless you don't mind). Make sure you surround yourself with great people and remember to have fun. Otherwise, it's probably not worth it.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Nike's tagline is the best: JUST DO IT!
And I will add: AND THEN ADJUST...
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email firstname.lastname@example.org; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.