People and principles

Toyella's Head Honcho Carl Shaw

Many online businesses shy away from presenting the personnel behind their ecommerce websites. In many instances they don't actually offer a personable service or alternatively they are fearful that their business may not look 'corporate' enough. I believe it's key that our visitors know who's behind Toyella and what their business values are.

That's me, Carl Shaw, on the left with Ollie on the right who is youngest of my three children. The little monkey on the right contributes to the age lines seen on the one on the left!

I started Toyella in 2010 and this emerging brand combines three of my personal passions: design, family and shopping. In my professional life I've twenty five years experience in the design industry and this gives me an inherent appreciation of all things well designed...for their practicality as well as for their aesthetics.

Being a father of three young children provides the appreciation of how fantastic, but how tough, raising children and home making can be for families.

And it's at home when our Eureka moment happened. As a family we love to buy and gift the best in products. Not necessarily expensive products it's very important to add...good design needn't cost! But always products that are valued through their looks or application.

Finding 'nice' toys for our own children and relatives proved difficult. Sourcing ones that would enhance our home as well as our children's play is not so easy in our home in England. The internet offered us more opportunity but many of the websites we browsed fell short of instilling trust and buying confidence.

The answer? Let's do it ourselves, let's offer something different and let's do it properly. Toyella was born.

Two years on we remain steadfast in following the principles conceived from the outset. We do things the way we would want it done when we ourselves are the consumers. Namely: upfront delivery information; authoring our own product descriptions...from a parent's perspective; our own photography to better illustrate the scale, material and benefits of toys; simple and trustworthy payment channels; safe packing; fair pricing; no quibble service.

In my view it's not too much to expect.

As for our products? they ultimately sell themselves but one of the great pleasures I get from Toyella is the process of selecting toys and gifts for our collection. I can only do this sucessfully by drawing on invaluable insight from my family and our network of friends...themselves parents, aunties, uncles and grandparents.

We have a saying at Toyella when there's any debate as to whether a particular toy makes it into our range or not: "Do you like it, or do you love it" we ask each other. The 'likes' get rejected and only the 'loves' make it in.

And this sometimes bemuses our suppliers who can't reason why we might choose a niché toy and reject a popular toy that may offer us, as retailers, opportunities of greater margins and volume sales.

I sense our uncompromising approach makes Toyella mavericks in our industry. We're not the biggest yet but we certainly do have big ambitions. Ultimately though we'll get there doing it our own way and doing it the right way.

Power to the parents!