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.
(Christina, Alexandre, Wild and Ocean Pariente)
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Wow. It’s hard to pick one, but I’d probably have to say watching our own kids become curious about the world around them because of our toys. This inspires me to keep showing up. Our mission has always been to get kids learning about the world they inhabit and creating that connection, so they’ll love it and conserve it for years to come. That legacy keeps me going every morning… even when I’m on team no-sleep ;)
What and/or who inspires you?
My wife is an exceptional human being. She’s a fierce businesswoman, dedicated mother and all-around purveyor of useful knowledge. Plus, she makes me laugh. That’s pretty cool.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Travel. I’m really lucky. I get to go to some of the world’s most beautiful places. I never take that for granted. Seeing the world makes me and my problems feel smaller, and it puts into focus our mission here.
Where did you grow up and how did that influence who you are today?
I grew up in Miami with a working Mom, the CEO of Safari Ltd before me. Honestly, I was a bit of a trouble maker, mostly because my mind works fast, and I’d quickly get bored of the traditional classroom structure. Didactic learning just wasn’t for me. I began working at Safari Ltd young in the warehouse, so I’ve done practically every job here and it’s given me a ton of experience I would otherwise not have had. It influenced me for the better. I feel really connected to this company and grateful to have seen the example my Mom set for me. She worked her ass off and took this company next level and that inspires me to do my part in that evolution.
(Safari Yeti figure)
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
Going to college. Like I mentioned, I have an overactive mind and the traditional learning structure simply didn’t work for me. I didn’t feel I learned much that could be applied to real life. Working full time while being a student was tough, so in retrospect, I would have skipped it altogether and gone straight to work. But it was a good lesson: College isn’t for everyone.