Interview with Fatma, Founder of WatotoArts on empowering Equality and Family Business.
Can you briefly tell us about yourself and what led you to start WatotoArt?
I’m Fatma, a 37-year-old mother of three. Before founding WatotoArt, I had a career in academia, holding a Ph.D. and working on postdoctoral research while living in Germany. However, everything changed when I became a mother. I started to question the purpose of my life and encountered difficulties, such as not finding dolls that resembled my own children. That’s when I decided to design and produce dolls that were inclusive and represented the diversity of our society.
Starting a toy company is quite challenging. What were the most significant challenges you faced during this journey?
Starting a toy company was indeed a significant shift from my academic background. The most challenging part was venturing into an entirely new field. However, this challenge was also highly rewarding because I have a strong passion for learning and was curious about how to make it work. Besides, balancing the demands of a startup with raising three kids was like taking care of a fourth child. It required a tremendous amount of energy. Nevertheless, the positive feedback we received from parents and kids motivated us to continue.
WatotoArt is a family business. Can you share the best advice you’ve received from your family regarding running the company?
My family has been incredibly supportive and has recognized the importance of WatotoArt’s mission. They understand how it has brought us closer together as a family, sparking meaningful discussions during dinners. Everyone has a unique story about dolls and their experiences of not finding dolls that look like them. The best advice they’ve given me is to appreciate the significance of our work and how it unites us. Additionally, they’ve provided valuable insights into managing Swedish production, which has been instrumental.
What is your vision for WatotoArt, and what do you hope to achieve in terms of promoting equality through your products?
Our vision for WatotoArt is simple yet profound: every child should have a doll that represents them. This means that our dolls should reflect the diverse backgrounds, skin colours, hair types, abilities, and family structures of all children. When kids play with dolls that look like them, they can envision themselves as the central characters in their stories, fostering a sense of importance and representation. Our mission is to spread this vision worldwide. Furthermore, our commitment to sustainability, including local production and responsible material sourcing, is another aspect we want to see in the future. We believe it’s the way forward for industries to regain control, ensure fairness, and contribute to a more sustainable world.
Finally, what are your top three tips for entrepreneurs looking to start a family business?
Starting a family business can be challenging but incredibly rewarding. Here are my top three tips:
- Build a Strong Team: In a family business, it’s crucial to strike a balance between family dynamics and professionalism. Consider bringing non-family members into the team to provide a different perspective and maintain a professional environment. Also, establish clear boundaries regarding work and personal life.
- Don’t Hesitate to Seek Help: Running a family business alongside family responsibilities can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed, whether it’s with childcare or business-related matters. Burnout can be detrimental to both your family and the business, so seeking assistance is essential.
- Set Clear Goals and Maintain Structure: Even in a family business, it’s vital to have clear goals and a well-defined vision. Hold regular meetings, document decisions, and ensure everyone is on the same page. Avoid assuming that you can read each other’s minds just because you’re family. Maintaining a structured approach will lead to more efficient operations and a healthier work-life balance.
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