Inspired by a visit to her husband’s home country, Czech Republic, and a love for traditional toys, Amy Simons wanted to provide Australian families with the opportunity to enjoy these unique, much-loved items. Happy Go Ducky is a small, family-owned children’s store with a passion for eco-friendly, handmade toys and products. All of the brands they work with share their love for sustainable, non-toxic, natural materials, which aligns with their goal to reduce the impact on the planet and preserve it for future generations. With a commitment to be plastic free, they only source natural products and all of their packaging is recycled, recyclable and biodegradable. From open-ended toys to keepsakes and everything in between, you are sure to find that special something in the Happy Go Ducky store.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Our inspiration came after a trip to my husband’s home in the beautiful Czech Republic and seeing all the toys he played with as a child. We purchased some for our little one on the way and brought them home to Sydney and that’s when we had a moment of ‘hey, maybe we should bring these here!’. The market for wooden toys back then was lacking, particularly when it came to handmade, which all of these toys are, and we just loved that they were designs that dated back 50 odd years and they were not only made the same way but were still so loved and popular.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Our beginning was pretty humble, as most small business starts are! Our main focus was on the Czech brands and so we started with the traditional tin toys from Kovap and the wooden range from Miva Vacov, both of which we somehow managed to store in our 2 bedroom apartment, basically anywhere we could fit them! I still remember when we would get some orders and we’d pack them up and I’d walk them up to the post office with our son in the pram. It was a very happy day when we had too many orders to do that and we had to take the car!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I think the biggest breakthrough came when we not only greatly expanded our range but also when we were able to expand into offering our brands wholesale as well. That was really a big turning point for us. It obviously still took time to establish and we had a lot more things to learn, but once we ironed out the details, it really took us to another level.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
That’s always a challenge and I don’t know if we’ll ever completely have it balanced but it’s definitely become a little easier since Leo started school. Having those blocks of time during the day to focus and then being able to set the time aside at the end of the day to spend time together as a family has been great. I’m not usually someone who likes routine but I’ve managed to embrace it and it is more efficient and easier than just running around and trying to find a block of time somewhere when your child doesn’t need something! We still end up working until 11pm/12am most nights but that’s a habit I don’t think we’ll ever shake!
The drive: What challenges have you overcome?
The list is honestly endless! Having your own business really is a lot like becoming a mother for the first time. You spend a lot of time just winging it and not knowing what you’re doing, you’re always tired and it constantly evolves and changes so you never really feel like you’re on top of it! But most of the hardest challenges have been to do with the importing side of it. My husband mostly deals with this and it really is a job in itself. The challenges we are facing now with importing are obviously on another level and it’s been really really hard to navigate. There’s still a lot of unknown as to where this will all end up but we’re just trying to stay positive and get on with it!