"Being creative helps kids to discover their imagination. It builds a sense of confidence and self-sufficiency."
Meet Tiger Tribe - An Australian children's brand celebrated for its focus on unplugged creativity. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife team, Anthony and Naomi Green, Tiger Tribe creates an impressive range of thoughtfully designed, high-quality toys and activity kits. We caught up with Anthony to learn about the company's design process, the importance of old fashioned creative learning and what the future holds for the brand.
First of all, how are you doing?
Really well, thank you. We are lucky that our kids are a bit older, so homeschooling did not require any extra help from us. The business has been a bit of a roller coaster. Initially, we were busy while families stocked up on activities for an extended stay at home, but then things went a bit quiet. We have been using this time to think of new ways to market and communicate our products as well as developing new products for 2021.
Let's start at the beginning. How did Tiger Tribe come about?
My wife Naomi and I decided that we did not want to work for anyone else. We had two young kids, so we were very interested in the children's gift market. There was a lot of licensed product but not a lot of thoughtfully designed gift lines. We went to a Hong Kong gift fair and found our first collection. Neither of us was an illustrator, so we briefed in freelancers for the first couple of years.
Your products are a fantastic alternative or antidote to screen time. Why do you think it's so important to encourage old fashioned creative learning?
We never criticise or condemn the online world. There are so many cool apps out there. But clever apps stimulate the brain in different ways to old fashioned pen and paper. The art of drawing or writing has been with us since the beginning of time. Drawing and colouring allow us to be calm and mindful. Being creative helps kids to discover their imagination. It builds a sense of confidence and self-sufficiency.
Many of your products have a real nostalgic style. Can you tell us about the ideation and design process?
We are always inspired by toys from the past and like to reference or re-invent vintage styles. This also ties into our love of unplugged products that offer an alternative to screen time.
We always have a list of projects that we are excited to create and need to choose carefully each time we are creating a new range. We are planning our 2021 range at the moment.
We collaborate with all departments of the business to work out what will be the perfect mix for a range of products that will suit a variety of ages and interests. Once we have worked out our plan, we research, create product spec sheets, refine, research, conceptualise, illustrate and design.
What do you do to stay inspired and keep the creativity flowing?
As a team, we share illustration, design and pop culture that inspires us. We look at both what is happening in the world around us and the world of design and illustration. We like to vary the types of jobs that we work on to keep the creativity flowing. To be honest, it is not hard to stay inspired when you are creating toys all day!
Tell us about Tiger Tribe's core values.
We actually spent a day on this last year. First and foremost, we aim to create fun and delight. We love what we do, and we strive to deliver happiness with every product we make. We are also very customer focussed. We want all our customers to come back for more. If they feel they have purchased well, then they will. We try to be thoughtful on all fronts – in design and our customer relationships. We also try to foster innovation and creative thinking to help us stand out in a crowded market.
In such a saturated market, what do you think sets Tiger Tribe apart?
I don't think there are many Australian businesses like Tiger Tribe. We care a lot about design and illustration and don't just try to pump products into the market. I also believe our relationships with our suppliers and our retailers have been a great help. There is a mutual sense of support which helps to create a good product and have a market who are keen to sell our product.
Describe the Tiger Tribe parent.
A really diverse bunch who care a lot about quality time for their children, they are busy both professionally and socially, and they are willing to spend a little bit extra on quality and value.
What has been your most significant success and challenge to date?
Early on, we chose room accessories and décor as part of our range which did not go very well. These items were more expensive, and they were a very personal choice – hence they did not turn over very quickly. So we had to change our direction quickly. Once we worked out that people wanted beautiful gifts for $20, life started to get easier. I think our greatest success is having a team (15 people) who have all got our backs and enjoy coming into work every day.
What can we expect from Tiger Tribe in the future?
We aim to make less product – but to make it better.
P.S. Now until 31 July, buy any two Tiger Tribe activity sets and receive a FREE pack of Tiger Tribe Two Tip Markers!