When it comes to kids and the planet, Jiminy Eco Toys is looking into the future... something Founder & CEO Sharon Keilthy takes very seriously. In fact, she started the company after noticing how hard it was to find biodegradable options for consumers and therefore do the right thing by our planet.
"I'd go into a toystore and everything was plastic wrapped in plastic shipped 22,000km from China. I couldn't buy it anymore; I realized, we need to make it easy for people to do the right thing - there has to be an eco option on the shelf in the places they already shop," she explained. "I set-up Jiminy Eco Toys to make eco toys more accessible - toys that are made locally from natural or recycled materials."
Her company now supplies eco-friendly toys to approximately 45 shops around Ireland and the UK, and sell direct to the public on www.jiminy.ie.
Find out more about how Jiminy Eco Toys is shaping young minds, and saving the planet, in one fell swoop.
What makes you stand out from other toy companies?
Lots of reasons!
93% of our toys are totally free of any new plastic; 7% have minor bits of plastic that are hard to substitute, e.g., velcro. Over 99% are entirely free of plastic packaging. And 95% are made locally in Europe.
We're totally transparent about what you're getting - if there's any plastic in it at all, we highlight that in CAPITALS in the product title. We have about 25 questions we answer consistently about each product - where was it made, what from, what's it packaged in, what's the packaging from the producer to us, is it biodegradable, is it recyclable, is it vegan, etc.
In contrast, 90% of toys worldwide are made from virgin plastic, most of those are also wrapped in single-use plastic, and 80% are shipped 22,000km to Europe from China.
You've touched on so many important issues to help educate young minds, like the "eco-spirational" book series (love that!) -- can you tell us more about that? Any specific goals?
We want to help inform and inspire young people so they can take great care of our planet now and when they grow up. It's only 10 years until 8 year olds will have a vote - that's such a short time really - and we're excited about what they'll be able to do - whether as Government or business leaders, as activists, or as responsible individuals.
What made you feel there was a need for these products in today's space?
90% of toys are made from virgin plastic, emitting so much CO2 it'd take 1 billion trees to absorb it. Shipping them 22,000km from China adds another 20% to that. As a benchmark, Ecosia the search engine that plants trees has planted 100 million trees in over a decade. So we'd need 120 years of Ecosia just to offset the toy industry.
How has your business been affected (if at all) by COVID?
We had just finished exhibiting at 3 trade shows and started sending our first orders to the shops we'd met there, when most of them closed due to lockdown. But then suddenly bigger toy retailers closed too and we were one of about 10 toy retailers small enough to keep operating in Ireland - so we were busy sending birthday gifts and Easter gifts and "keep them busy" craft kits! Now it's October and there's a lot of uncertainty about what to expect over Christmas. But the shops are open again and we're now getting the orders from them we'd otherwise have gotten in April! So, we'll muddle through and we're getting used to dealing with the unexpected!
Have you seen online shopping behaviors change since the pandemic?
More people are ordering gifts that we wrap, write the note, and send directly to their loved one (whom they can't visit right now). And people are more organized than last year - more Christmas orders in Sept and Oct.
Have you seen an increase in sales since implementing Partial.ly?
It has helped people buy higher-priced, long-lasting items like our wooden balance boards. They're something the whole family can use, and they last forever, but they've over €100. So people use Partial.ly to get them now and pay them over 6 or 8 months.
What has the customer response been like with having a payment plan option available? Any specific feedback/testimonials to share?
A customer who used Partial.ly to buy a balance board emailed us the other day with this message: "I can not thank you enough for your excellent service and prompt delivery, my kids loved it so much, I thank from the bottom of my heart for having a payment plan on your website otherwise people like me couldn't afford it, I am extremely grateful thanks again a lot."
When have you noticed Partial.ly being used the most (i.e. certain age shopper and/or if a product costs at least a certain amount)?
Almost exclusively people use it four our das.Brett bouncy balance boards, which all cost over €100, but are long-lasting and a fun fitness tool for everyone, every age, every fitness level.
Would you recommend other businesses use Partial.ly?
Yes! It's easy. It makes your service more inclusive and accessible. And Partial.ly take care of all the collections for you, all you have to do is install the app.
If you could use Partial.ly to help you purchase anything right now, what would it be?
A house! Our daughter is obsessed with getting a dog and growing vegetables in a garden but for that we need a house (and I invested our deposit into setting-up Jiminy, so it will be while yet!)