While some advise never to go into business with friends or family, for others, it’s the key to entrepreneurial success
Having just launched a new venture selling educational toys online, it may be too soon to tell whether, business-wise, success is in the cards for actresses and best friends Terry Pheto and Mampho Brescia. But, if the hype and early reception are anything to go by, they are definitely on the right track.
Recognising the need for parents to be more actively involved in their children’s education, Terry and Mampho embarked on a journey to source toys and games for children up to 18 years of age, ensuring each item sharpens their cognitive abilities.
A mother herself, this is a project close to Mampho’s heart. We spoke to her to find out more about Let’s Learn Toys.
What’s the first toy you remember playing with as a child?
Funny enough, I don’t recall any specific toy. My escape was in the form of books. My mother insisted that I should read; that’s how my love for story-telling and words began. I remember books like The Ghost of Thomas Kempe and The BFG.
You place emphasis on the importance of not leaving educating children to institutions. Why do you think this is so important?
I love the concept of ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ because it’s so true. We don’t exist in isolation. Community is about being connected, as we are all linked in one way or another. The future belongs to our children, and it is our responsibility to ensure that it’s a bright one.
Who is the target audience of these toys?
Our toys are intended for everyone – they range from R29 upwards. We understand the economic dynamics of our country, so we want everyone to be able to afford our products.
Those who don’t have online access might need these learning tools the most. Does the brand have an expansion plan to reach everyone?
We believe that the world is moving toward online, but we do plan to reach those who still don’t have internet access through activation tours and having people on the ground.
Where are the toys sourced? Do you and Terry approve every item before it is put on sale?
The toys are sourced worldwide, with the help of experts in both education and early childhood development. Terry and I are very hands-on; product testing is a tedious but necessary process. We have to understand the benefit of the product before bringing it in as part of our offering.
What was the greatest challenge or obstacle to launching this business?
I can’t speak for Terry, but for me, it was understanding the ‘business’ of business – the crunching of the numbers and learning to be patient with the entire process of sourcing and importing.
Have you received support from the Department of Basic Education?
We had to do it on our own to ensure the viability of the business. We kept things quiet for a while, but now that the cat’s out of the bag, I am sure that all the relevant institutions will want to be a part of what we are doing.
What successes have you seen with the business so far?
The business has, in a very short time, grown exponentially, proving that there’s a massive need for our educational products. People are interested; they have gone online, viewed and purchased the toys. They see the value in what we offer.
Visit letslearntoys.co.za to shop for toys or buy packages to donate to schools or orphanages.
This article first appeared in the December/January 2018 issue of Club Magazine.