What do you do in the industry?
We encourage play in a world of screens. Our mission at Safari Ltd is to teach children the importance of nature and its conservation through the joy of play. We’re a family operated company for over 30 years now! I’m the proud third generation owner of this amazing place.
What is your claim to fame in the industry?
I think it’s our quality and imagination. We work relentlessly to make our figurines as detailed as possible and they last a long time. Many of our SafariFans, myself included, have passed down their favorite toys to their kids and grandkids. We also choose really exciting animals to create, both from nature and our imagination. We’re constantly evolving our creative process to keep what works and add something new.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m focused on a really exciting new partnership for us with BiOBUDDi, the world’s first and best-selling eco-friendly building blocks. As of this month, Safari Ltd is the exclusive distributor of BiOBUDDi in the US. I’m really proud of this project for a few reasons, first and foremost, it’s part of our efforts as a company to support environmental conservation. BiOBUDDi is committed to making toys that don’t harm our environment. These building blocks are bio-based toys derived from plants, and they’re still excellent quality, which is also important to us. We all get to think of the planet as ours and make it a focus in our day-to-day, so I’m very excited to be doing that on a bigger scale with this partnership.
What trends do you see in toys or games that excite or worry you?
As a parent, technology does worry me in the toy industry. Kids are spending too much time on screens and it’s not good, period. In fact, Fundamentally Children just released data that finds 75% of kids are not getting enough play time. That’s a scary number. Play allows kids to use their imagination, versus being programmed by a video game or app. I’m not completely adverse, of course, technology has a lot of value, but I’m concerned that our kids’ time is monopolized by devices. You go on a bus, there’s a screen, you go to the dentist, there’s a screen. It’s all about balance.
What advice would you give a young adult graduating from high school or college today?
Graduation means you’ll join the adult world, a place that is vastly different from school, where the rules, guidelines and schedule to succeed are all presented to you. Once you’re out, it’s completely up to you to create this for yourself, which is exciting but can feel scary. So, work hard, experiment, do what excites you and practice positivity… stubbornly so.
What does your typical day look like?
My first job is as a Dad, so this will look like nights of very little sleep followed by early mornings of packing lunches, school drop offs and lots of cleaning. Once I shift my focus to CEO at Safari Ltd, it looks like checking in with my teams. This looks different across the board, but it’s always exciting stuff, like creative solutions for mom and pop shops, new product development, marketing meetings where we put ourselves in our customer’s shoes and imagine new possibilities with our toys. It’s something different every day and I get to learn and use my imagination.
Our company’s working hours are 7:30AM-3:30PM, a move we made a few years back because we want our employees to bring their best here, and we’ve found the way to ensure that’s possible is an excellent work/life balance. So I try to be out at that time and go spend the afternoon with my kids. I talk with my daughter about what she’s learning, my son doesn’t talk yet so mostly we play, and this is what refuels me to go back in and do it again. I probably answer a few emails later than I care to admit, but hey, balance, right?
What’s your workspace setup like?
I share an office with my wife, who is also President of Safari Ltd. We built a sweet setup that reflects who we are and keeps us motivated. Environment is vital to creativity, so our space is playful yet functional. We’ve got toys, our own and our kids, there are couches to lounge on if we need to change it up from the desk to get the mind moving. We’ve got a long table in the middle for meetings and shared meals. There’s lots of orange and green, our colors, natural materials and artwork. It’s a similar vibe to the rest of the office, which we designed to be playful. At the end of the day, we’re selling toys so we want an environment that feels fun and creative. I’m a lucky guy.