In a world of iPads and gaming consoles, coming across a brand that is dedicated to providing thoughtfully, beautifully-made children’s toys is a breath of fresh air. Since 2007, husband-wife duo Anthony and Naomi Green have been doing just that, with their business, Tiger Tribe, delivering an impressive range of portable products designed to educate, entertain and inspire children wherever they go.
What was the inspiration for starting your business?
Naomi and I enjoy the creative aspects of life… so it was a good fit for us to start a business that is all about encouraging imagination and creativity. Tiger Tribe celebrated 10 years in business last year, at the time we felt strongly that there was a big gap in the market for interesting, quality children’s gifts and activity sets at affordable prices… products that were not licensed, as imported European products were expensive.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
Prior to starting Tiger Tribe I worked in a children’s wholesale accessories business. This experience helped me to understand that there were a lot of independent retailers out there looking for interesting children’s products. In our first three years of trading, we saw a steady increase in gift stores opening up. Even ‘grown up’ gift stores were making room for kids’ gifts. I think we grew about 35% in year three – so this was a sure sign that we were in the right place at the right time.
How did you make your big break?
We always admired Seed Heritage clothing stores, and had set ourselves a goal that one day Tiger Tribe would be ranged in Seed stores. After a couple of failed attempts Seed decided to range our products – 6 lines in our first year. And each year since our range has grown larger with them.
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
I (Ant) studied marketing and worked in many jobs before settling into Tiger Tribe. The best experience I gained was working in smaller companies where you had to be across many aspects of the business. Naomi studied Law and Communications but was happiest when she was making documentary films.
What are the biggest challenges of being a mum/dad and a businesswoman/man?
We do live and breathe Tiger Tribe, but we try not to bore the kids with too much business chat. In saying that, they are both teenagers now and actually enjoy hearing about the challenges of the business. And of course, when they were younger, it was kind of cool having parents who make toys! They loved getting involved with our catalogue photo shoots and trialing the toys during development.
Outside of their direct involvement, we have always made time to be involved with our kids and their various after school activities. We are really quite fortunate that the business has given us the flexibility to juggle quite easily. One can keep working while the other attends to family stuff.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
Make time for the things that you love. Whether it be catching up with friends, cooking, yoga, or playing sport. We always find that after taking time out to do OUR THING we come back to the house or the office feeling energised.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since starting your own business?
Planning and creating goals makes a big difference. By setting goals and time lines – it helps prioritise urgent or important activity. It also helps when it comes to saying no to new opportunities or distractions.
I play tennis at least once a week and am a mad sports fanatic – tennis and football are just two of my passions. I also have a great love of music…favourites include Jack Johnson and Billy Bragg.
Naomi is a regular at Yoga and Pilates. She loves baking and is very good at it. The whole family wait for Naomi to bring her famous chocolate cake to birthday celebrations. Naomi’s other love is music — we have a tradition in the office where many of the Tiger Tribe crew share from their own Spotify play lists.
What’s one thing other mums/dads should do who are looking to start their own business?
Start slow. Try a small range of products, or keep your service offering simple. Once you are clear on what is working, start to increase your offering.
And at the beginning — step out of the comfort zone. Ask lots of questions of people who have experience in the area you are entering. Better to ask embarrassing questions than make mistakes with cold hard cash.