This morning we introduce you to Toodles Noodles. These guys are all the way from across the pond in New Zealand and are bringing with them to showcase at First Instyle their cool and inspiring collection of homewares and goodies. STAYING AWESOME can sometimes be a difficult task but with these daily reminders and affirmations from Toodles Noodles it is a breeze.
Life Instyle: What is the 15 second elevator pitch that defines your business?
Toodles Noodles is a proud Kiwi brand that started with colourful, cheeky stationery and now also offers a wide range of gifts and homewares. Our much-loved products are designed by owner Liora herself and inspire joy in homes across the world.
Life Instyle: The theme for Life Instyle Melbourne this season is Return to the Source, what does this mean to you and how did your story begin?
We love the theme of ‘Return to the Source’ as this season we’re inspired by creating products that we truly love and would like to use in our everyday lives. When the company started it was to help fill a void in the New Zealand marketplace. Being originally from California Liora found it hard to find pretty and affordable wrapping paper in Wellington. So she decided to make some and peddle the streets of Wellington to see if any shops wanted to stock the new paper. With great uptake from local shops the request for gift tags and greeting cards was quickly being met.
We still use that philosophy when coming up with new products and designs. For example our wine totes that we introduced last year. It’s always nice to take a bottle of wine to a dinner party but it’s but it can be quite uncomfortable to arrive with that bottle in a plastic grocery bag or just a simple bottle in hand. We created our tote bags to make transport a bit more stylish and also offers a great affordable, well designed, easy to use option.
Life Instyle: Where do you find inspiration?
This may sound cheesy but really everywhere! It can be from reading a book, going for a walk, overhearing a conversation at the gym. Our products aim to be practical and functional without compromising design so talking to our customers and buyers on a regular basis really helps coming up with new sayings, products and designs.
Life Instyle: What was your biggest challenge when starting your business and how did you overcome it?
With a graphic design background and never taking a business course in my life, I’d say the biggest challenge is learning to take a hobby into a real international wholesale business. We’ve been operating for just 5 years and went from a few stores in Wellington to over 100 stores around NZ and Australia with a few in the US, Hong Kong and Dubai. Every week I learn something new either about production, manufacturing, accounting, but absolutely love seeing how the business has been growing and that the demand for our products is continuously growing. I still get a ‘pinch me’ moment when I see any products out in the ‘wild’ be it a store or someone on the street walking with our tote bag in hand!
Life Instyle: What was your best YAY US! moment?
It was back a few years ago when stuff.co.nz posted one of our tote bags on their top 5 Christmas buys for that year. Within minutes we had sold over 100 totes. Toodles was still a baby (only 1 year in) and at the time I was still working as a full-time graphic designer and on secondment out of town. Confused by all the influx in sales a friend of mine tweeted the link and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here we were with four other big named brands as a top Christmas gift! I urgently rung my screen printer with the exciting news then asked her how quickly we could print up more totes than we ever had before. That was the first real sign that the brand was more than just a hobby and could become my full-time job someday (which happened just a few months later).
Life Instyle: What advice would you give to a new designer/retailer reading this post?
Keep going! It’s hard, there is no denying that, the learning curve is steep but the reward is bigger than you could have ever imagined. If you’re willing to put in the time and do the research, the end result knowing YOU did that will outweigh all those long nights.
Life Instyle: Where do you see the future of retail heading?
We’ve only been in retail a short time but have already seen a few waves. I would like to think that the pull for buying local and well designed products is coming back into fashion. People really love hearing the story behind a product or design, getting to know the designer, making a real connection with a piece. It goes with the philosophy of buying better not more.
Life Instyle: What would a tarot card reader find in your future?
Gosh that’s a goodie – makes me want to go out and get my future read for the first time!
Chariot, Strength, Hermit and Temperance
Life Instyle: How has your business grown over time? Where did you start and where are you now?
The business has had a nice steady growth rate since we started. We started back in 2011 just doing markets and selling through Etsy. Then we picked up a few stockists locally in Wellington and then Auckland. In 2012 we did our first trade show and picked up a few more, then a few more, and now have over 100 stores. We are really excited to have more and more stores in Australia selling our products and they are a big hit on HardtoFind – an Australian online marketplace. We have just teamed up with the great ladies of Me & Amber to be our distributors in Australia and are excited about joining forces. We look forward to growing our Australian following and hope to expand to other countries in the next few years.
Life Instyle: What should our visitors be expecting to see from your brand at Life Instyle Melbourne 2016?
Well designed products that are affordable, don’t compromise quality and bring a smile to your face. We pride ourselves on the soft cheekiness our products have. In Melbourne we will be debuting our new duffle bag, an assortment of greeting cards and new prints. For a full range of our products, visit our distributors stand, Me & Amber.
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