Engage! Explore! Innovate! Fun with toys! Learn with toys!
Bhuvaneshwari K, a Telecommunication Engineer by profession created GEL Gifts where you will get GELMag a creative toy which is reducing screen time for kids.
How did you get introduced to Gelmag (which is a big hit in the market)?
My son Nilavan got an expensive “Magnetic Blocks toy” as a gift when he was around 2.4 years old in UAE. Seeing it at that time only I knew this particular toy is just not like every other toy. And my guess was right. Almost everyday I could see my little one playing with it and he wasn’t getting bored at all. So, we started to allocate time for playing with this toy everyday. Then we started watching a lot of YouTube videos to create new structures daily. Every minute playing with it was fun. One day my son used to sort all similar colored blocks on one side, and on another day he would just name all the colors and show off that he knows colors. He built houses for all his tiny dinosaur friends and at times made big parking lots for his cute cars. The structures we built everyday from Rockets, fish, ball, heart, small Car, big Car, Palace, forts to spaceship etc. Oh my !! the list is long. I was amazed seeing how versatile this toy was and how nice it would be if every kid had this. So I started my research.
In India a 20 pieces magnetic blocks set on online shopping stores costed approximately 2200 INR . And the beauty of “magnetic blocks/ tiles game” is if you have more pieces it will be more fun else you will be stuck with creating same design and structures. Hence at least a 50 pieces set should be given to a child to explore a lot and broaden the imagination. I decided this innovative toy should become every kids’ toy. I decided to design the number of blocks needed and other accessories for the magna blocks to be interesting for kids on long term and came to a conclusion that a 60 pieces set will keep a kid engaged for a longer time.
I wanted to manufacture this toy in India but the budget and manpower factors made me decide to choose a partner in China. I went to China with my little one on my back .Yes! With a baby carrier and my husband took 7 days leave just to be with my child when I used to go to meet potential business partners. I had to take my son with me because I was breastfeeding him and this little fellow had never been away from me.
I didn’t know the language or the routes and I just went to China with very little knowledge. I know all my decisions were impulse. But I was sure this trip would make me stronger. I always wondered how Western country toys have higher safety standards than Indian toys? I decided if I want to sell this toy I will make sure this has the international safety standard EN 71 Certification (European Nations safety test on toys).
I not only got a big manufacturer as a partner but also got the certification. I was happy I was able to launch “GeLMaG” for the best and affordable price for all the Indian parents. My hubby who works in Dubai and Parents were pillars of support even though they were unsure about my actions. I am in India for past six months working on this project. I am sure my project is a winning project because I am a parent and I can guess at least a bit how my fellow parents and kids would love this Toy.
The journey wouldn’t have been easy. What are some of the bold steps you’ve taken ?
I dreamt about setting up my own venture and my little one showed me the path by loving the toys I got for him. So that’s where the idea popped up and that was the seed for this business. However, I faced some hurdles.
- I was in India just for vacation so how will I continue after I return back to UAE?
- My 2 yr old needed all time attention and we were in the “trouble two” phase. Moms with small kids know what I am talking about.
- Wood is breakable if handled roughly, how the response will be?
I made some compromises. Because I just didn’t want my dream only to remain a dream. Created a facebook page for toys. My mommy friends joined me and supported me. They recommended GEL to their mom friends. So that’s how my business network started growing. I made sure to give the best price in the market so kept less profit. Still give best products. Chose Indian postal service as it’s comparably less expensive than the private courier service. Initially, people who received the products gave very good reviews. Unfortunately, few customers orders were damaged during the transportation and we promptly replaced or refunded. This also gave me opportunity to create policies for replacements and also found ways for better packing. As my vacation ended I employed 2 college going boys who work for GEL part time while I do online marketing . These boys are from low income family and hence I am so happy GEL help them financially for their education. We launched our website by June 2016 and slowly and gradually my business started seeing new heights everyday.
- What is your favorite thing about Gelmag?
It’s versatility! I love the factor Gelmag is an open ended toy and a child has all freedom to explore and innovate.
Do you think playing with these kind of toys will help parents reduce screen time?
Definitely! I guess the most challenging part for this generation parents is keeping the child engaged constructively.
Limited screen time is possible only when kids are engaged in other positive activities in the remaining times. I wouldn’t say a kid needs all the toys to keep him/her engaged. Few toys but the best ones are definitely needed for kids positive growth.
Most importantly parents attention and love will create more happier kids. I feel interactive and educative toys are one way for parents and kids to bond more.