Diane Jones - A 'Plum' Job


 What do you do in the industry?


I’m the co-owner, along with my husband Jonathan, of Plum Products which is a family owned SME that innovates, designs, manufacturers and supplies a wide selection of kids toys for fun and active play.


Why and how did you get into the Toy and Game industry?


I started out as a litigation lawyer in Johannesburg and then went on to join an in-house legal team in a merchant bank in London.  While on maternity leave after having had our son Paul, we decided to start our own business. We started out by representing sustainable suppliers of wood selling garden and barbeque fuel products into the UK. I continued to work part time to pay the mortgage while Jonathan started the trading until we could afford for me to join him. By that time we also had 2 kids to add to our busy lives. Our earliest foray into the toy market was selling a wheeled item based on a township toy from South Africa and soon added a range of swing accessories from Germany. An opportunity to sell wooden climbing frames into the UK followed and we brought in a trial container load of wooden climbing frames from North America. They sold well and the toy side grew and grew as we added product after product. The rest as they say is history!


What are you working on now?


We have some exciting innovations we are working on which I’m not at liberty to disclose save as to say we will have more cool exciting stuff for kids coming up!


What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?


These days I worry about the time kids spend on screens and the sedentary nature of this.  However there is fortunately a growing interest in getting kids back to actively exploring nature to counter balance this, as we have seen from the huge parent and retail interest in our Discovery range. This is an exciting trend.


What advice can you give to inventors who are presenting new toy or game ideas to you?


Do your market research and work on truly being different and above all keep the ideas coming. No one has the franchise on ‘all the good ideas’ so it’s always good to hear more.


What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?


Don’t worry if you don’t land your dream job straight away, be open minded, believe in your own self worth and persist until you find what you looking for. There are no time limits in life.


 What does your typical day look like?


I start my day with an early morning ocean swim in Manly where we live in Sydney which is fast becoming my best thing. This is followed by a dog walk with our beautiful dog Holly, before I head to my office to sit down to tackle my pile of emails etc. My day ends with another dog walk and dinner or regularly a call to a colleague abroad. When you live in Sydney you get used to calling the rest of the world at odd hours, it’s well and truly living ‘Down Under’!


What is the most rewarding part of your job?


I get great pleasure supporting our team to grow in confidence and flourish individually and in their roles bringing fresh and innovative ideas to the table. When this in turn translates into a marketing idea, new process, new leadership, new range or product it’s very rewarding.


What is the worst job you’ve ever had and what did you learn from it?