During this time (and always!) it is so important to support local and the small business in our communities. Plus it’s great for the economy too! We are constantly inspired by the ambition and resilience of small business founders. We feel that the risks that they take lead to innovation and help in moving the world forward.
Inspired by these entrepreneurs and their stories, we recently chatted with Clara Strambio & Fadi Abu Ghali – owners of My Backyard Chronicles, about being an entrepreneur, running a small business while also running a family, and how they’ve adapted to the changes that Covid-19 has brought to their business.
What is your business about and why did you start it?
My Backyard Chronicles is an e-commerce platform that offers a curated selection of sustainable and eco-friendly toys and products for kids. Sourced both locally and around the world. Children today spend more time indoors and less time outdoors in nature. Our mission is to get kids unplugged and inspire them to explore, create, and play outside. We have a passion for beautiful things, we believe in slow play and we are committed to offer open-ended toys that encourage a child’s imagination and invite a sense of wonder and curiosity into everyday play.
I have a background in psychology and I have been working as a stylist in Dubai for 10 years, but since becoming a mum I have always wanted to start a kids’ related business but never got around to give it a go. The lockdown, due to Covid-19, gave me some free and quiet time to put my ideas into reality and along with my partner Fadi who supported this concept from the beginning, we started mybackyardchronicles.com
We both felt that Dubai was missing a kids’ concept store that focused on nature inspired play, simple games, timeless toys and play pieces that inspire children’s imagination but at the same time were kind to the environment. We started sourcing brands from all around the globe and brought them to the Middle East for the first time. Some examples are rattan hula hoops, wooden digital cameras and DIY cardboard costumes.
What do you love about your business?
I love our handpicked products, the ethos behind it. The community of customers and makers we are slowly building thanks to social media. I love our main goal which is to get the kids away from electronics and hopefully outside in nature playing with our toys. The thing I love the most though has to be the amazing people that we are meeting along the way, our suppliers as well as our customers and everyone in between.
How do you manage your time between running a business and a family?
I am not going to lie, it is hard, and it is overwhelming at times. The only way to manage is to recognize when things get too much and take some time for yourself to reset, its important to know what is good for your soul and what helps you switch off and relax. For me its alone time, reading a book, doing yoga, going to the beach and meeting a friend.
Another way to manage is to share tasks both at home and in the business as Fadi and I do, and also talk to each other when one of us feels overworked or overwhelmed, that always helps me a lot.
How has Covid-19 affected your business and how have you adapted?
I don’t think Covid-19 has affected negatively our business. On the contrary, the lockdown and the resulting slowing down our lives and the increase in family time has helped us putting together our business model. And made us realize how important is to be present with our kids when we are with them. Not only spending quality time but being really present in those moments.
Business wise, Covid-19 has seen an increase in kids spending more time at home away from school and parents getting more involved in activities with their children. Our DIY activity kits have sold very well because of this. The same goes for timeless toys such as the hula hoops and the skipping ropes. The lockdown seems to have somehow reignited the love of simple toys and slow play.
This very special moment in history has been a wakeup call for many people. We have seen a lot of parents becoming more sustainably conscious and starting to become increasingly aware and interested in what exactly their kids are playing with. Plus why and where these toys are coming from.
Any piece of advice to other small businesses owners or anyone wanting to start their own business?
- Choose yourself a great business partner. You will have to support each other along the way. There will be days when one will feel hopeless and frustrated. The other person should be there to offer support and remind you why you started and what you have already achieved.
- Be patient, success doesn’t happen overnight and it needs a lot of hard work, there are no shortcuts.
- Be true to yourself and the values and ethos behind your brand. The market is overcrowded with businesses, but people always love a genuine and interesting story behind a brand. That is what will make you stand out.
- Support other small businesses, creatives and makers, other companies are not your enemies or competitors, we can all win together.
You might also like: 9 Indoor Play Areas in Dubai Kids Will Love