Adorable Business

Strolling around a market in Manila with her 8 month old daughter Ellen, Petra Rigby Jinglöv saw some toys and books made of fabric that caught her attention. These soft toys are great for kids she thought. Why not make them for Swedish kids? Six years later Petra’s company oskar&ellen sells her own designed products to more than 400 stores in seven countries.
Petra Rigby Jinglöv was a professional golfer on the European tour for five years before moving to the Philippines in 1999 with her husband Mikael. She also played in the Swedish national team with Annika Sörenstam. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Georgia, where she studied on a golf scholarship.
It took her a year of hard work to find suppliers that met her standards. She traveled around Luzon north of Manila, visiting a string of factories that made toys of fabric and finally found three that she liked. It is the same suppliers she uses today and she pays them a visit once year.
“In the beginning I received all deliveries in my home in Manila and went through the products piece by piece together with the manufacturer, to make sure they understood how I wanted the products to be done.” says Petra Rigby Jinglöv.

Named after her children
She set up the company in Sweden and named it after her children Filip and Ellen. Filips second name is Oskar which was chosen for the company name, oskar&ellen. The headquarters are in Stockholm and the day to day business is run by her mother in law Anita Jinglöv. Today Petra Rigby Jinglöv lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with her family.
“My business concept is to develop and sell products that stimulate children’s learning, imagination and role-play. oskar&ellen’s motto is “Adorable gifts for adorable children.” she says.
oskar&ellen have around 150 own products in the range at the moment. Educational activity books, activity wall hangings and play bags are some examples. All are made of fabric.
The work to develop and improve the range selection is done by Petra Rigby Jinglöv. The inspiration often comes from her children Ellen and Filip. They and their friends are also important sounding boards when she tries out her ideas.
“Ellen and Filip are very much involved. It is great; sometimes they come to me and say “Mummy, I have an idea for a new product”.”
An example of her children’s involvement is when she was developing “The Castle” and Ellen thought something scary was missing in the set. She thought this was a good idea and added a witch to the collection of characters.

Piracy a concern
Piracy is a concern as good business ideas often breed. That is another reason for continuous product development, to be able to stay one step ahead of the competition.
The best-seller is the “Music Bag” which contains different figures that each represents a song, such as a lamb or a star. The child puts its hand in the bag and draws one figure, and then sings a song about it.
“Soft toys are not just for babies, which many believe”, she says. “At the age of three kids start with role play and many of my products are aimed at older kids.”
Products from Asia often raise questions about under which circumstances and working conditions that they are made.
“When I participate in Trade Fairs one of the first questions I get, is this a result of child labour?” says Petra Rigby Jinglöv and stresses that no children are involved in the production.
To run a company can be gratifying in many ways. She remembers an occasion when she was back in Sweden recently.
“I accompanied a friend to a house showing. In one of the children’s rooms I saw that they had some toys from oskar&ellen. Such moments please me very much.”
The main marketing channel is trade fairs and twice a year she travel to Stockholm to participate in Formex.
“I do not advertise, but my products have appeared in magazines such as the Swedish “Vi Föräldrar”.

Fast growth
The company has grown very fast, the first year she doubled the turnover every year and lately it has grown 30-40 percent yearly. Petra Rigby Jinglöv and her mother in law are still the only employees; recently she outsourced the packing to another company to ease the burden on them. She is very optimistic about the future.
“In ten years time I believe we are well established in Europe.” she says and adds that at the moment her products are being introduced on the French and British markets. “However, our aim will still be to develop unique, fun products of high quality, something I think parents and children of today appreciate.”

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