Start Following - Inspire-a-doll
Posted on 28th March 2022 at 17:41
Shovon Wiggan is CEO and Founder of Inspire-a-doll, a multi-cultural doll range representing girls from different cultures around the world. They are bringing much needed diversity awareness to the doll industry by celebrating individuality, geography, and culture. Inspire-a-doll aims to teach children about new cultures, introduce them to inspiring leading ladies in history, travel the world through play and celebrate diversity. Shovon is also a mother and third year student just about to graduate from Birmingham City University.
We sat down with Shovon last week to chat all things business, the importance of self-believe and discuss what on earth Kim was talking about with her ‘advice’ to women in business 🤔
How did you originally get the idea for Inspire-a-doll?
‘I started university and I was studying business management. One day whilst I was babysitting my niece, Nyah, she said to me she didn’t want to be black which obviously shocked and saddened me. I’m a solution-based person so I tried to think how I could incorporate what she said into a solution and that’s how dolls came up.’
What’s the best piece of life or business advice you’ve been given?
‘Believe in your own source. We live in a world where it’s so easy to not be yourself or not have confidence in yourself, especially if you’re different. However, when you become confident that changes, everyone wants to know how you became so confident.’
‘Believe in your own source.’
What advice would you give to someone with an idea but not a way to realise it?
‘Create a team and a support system around you of people that have done it before and have more knowledge than you. Learn as much as you can about the industry, including your competitors. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions!’
What’s your opinion on the hustle and girl boss culture?
'The BossBabe Instagram account does inspire me. I prefer the hustler mentality. Hustler is about hunger and a purpose that will never fizzle out.
On Kim K’s recent advice – ‘I think it’s odd how she phrased it, she aimed it at women in business but women in business have worked to be there, so I didn’t really understand what she was saying!’
You’re a mum and a business owner, how do you balance these two super important and demanding jobs?
‘Managing being a mother and running my own company has happened over time. When I first set up, it was during the pandemic so I still had time to spend with my son, less external demands, time to reflect. When lockdown eased it then became really stressful. My living room was where I worked and where I spent time with my son. So, I decided to move my office out of my house to STEAMhouse. Work never ends when you’re an entrepreneur however now having a separate space to work makes it easier to allocate time and switch off. Don’t get me wrong I still don’t enjoy the pressure to go into the office though!’
‘Sometimes I want to go and hide until I know all the answers, but life doesn’t work like that.’
What leaves you feeling recharged and who are your biggest inspirations?
‘My YouTube addiction leaves me feeling recharged! I love documentaries - crime docs, nature docs. The women that inspire me are my mum and nan. I also love Rihanna and her attitude. But my biggest inspiration is me. When I was younger, I was a tomboy, I would watch how the boys interacted with each other and how they would interact with girls they liked. I wanted to be treated like the boys treated each other not how they would treat the girls. This taught me that I can look beautiful on the outside but to always invest in your personality.’
What’s your favourite part of running your own business?
‘Meeting and networking with so many cool, amazing people.
Knowing that I’m making an impact with my life, creating change and giving my son something to look up to.
Showing people, and definitely females, we can do anything. Don’t be put into a box, you have so much potential.’
What’s your least favourite part of running your own business?
‘Having to deal with the failures because there’s a lot of them [laughs]. Fully accepting responsibility when things go wrong and having to learn on the job. You can plan, plan, plan, and still things go wrong.
You have to reflect, learn and try again.’
What’s your biggest business barrier right now?
‘Being a confident woman intimidates people, especially men. I purposely don’t tone myself down, I like to set the tone from the beginning, this is me.
I’m not going to water myself down just to make you like me.
That can be a barrier as they don’t expect you to be like that.’
Do you think every private company should have a social impact element their business?
‘Right now, this is the buzzword, big business has jumped on being socially impactful, but I do think if they could get away with not doing it, I think they would. With small businesses, because it’s from the heart and we put in our blood, sweat and tears to get it off the ground, do try and think about how it’s going to impact the environment and the community.’
What would you like to see change in the doll and toy industry?
‘The toys our children play with need to reflect the society that we live in. They indoctrinate children from such a young age to want features they aren’t genetically born with.’
Whilst building your business have you made your products more environmentally friendly?
‘Yes, we were going to do plastic dolls but after doing my research on how plastic is affecting the environment I said no and decided to go with fabric dolls instead. I also got the opportunity to produce a 3D printed doll, we ended up using a material made from banana leaf for the printed doll rather than plastic.
I would like to go into schools and do workshops too, so I want to be able to talk about the environmentally friendly materials as well.’
What are your plans for the future of Inspire a doll?
‘Our products will be arriving in April, for the May launch. After the launch I would like to do pop-ups in stores around the UK. Then we’ll start working on the second doll if all goes well. Following this we’ll start pitching to buyers, I want to see Inspire-a-doll in The Entertainer, Argos, Tesco, Selfrdiges! I’m thinking big as I know the possibilities are endless. We want Inspire-a-doll to be an animation and a series of children’s books.
I’m a big believer of manifestation and timing is very important.’
Shovon is a total inspiration, we want to thank her for sitting down with us and we can’t wait to catching up with her again as her business grows.
Interviewed and written by Felicity Blades, Marketing Executive at Start.Biz.
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