We live in the world where children have access to smart toys and cutting-edge technologies, and books seem to lose ground. If we talk about personalized sensory books, colored and decorated with different elements, then the attraction grows.
Sensory books are increasingly sought after by parents recently, representing an educational alternative that develops children's fine motor skills, spatial imagination, stimulates logic and figurative thinking, trains memory and attention.
A mother from Tighina makes some of the most beautiful interactive books for children, all by hand, from felt, a textile material obtained by pressing wool or hair threads. Depending on the age and interests of the children, the books can be customized by launching new challenges.
In order to develop her business, Suzana Rocoman benefited from the EU4Business support within the „Mentoring in business - 3. Start for Youth” project of the European Union’s „Confidence-Building Measures” programme implemented by the United Nations Development Program in Moldova.
From experiment to success
Suzana Rocoman attended a child psychology course, as well as various business and marketing courses, including those organized by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI). Looking for safe and interesting toys, the young woman made the first felt book for her daughter.
„I wanted something more than what I have seen on the social media. So, I did some research and realized that this type of books had potential,” says Suzana.
With friends’ encouragement, the passion for making quiet books transformed into a successful business under the brand „SuzikToys”.
Orders started to increase quickly, which led Suzana to invest in higher quality raw materials and look for the most original and special accessories. According to the young entrepreneur, 80% of buyers have become loyal customers and recommend the products to family and friends.
The entrepreneur received orders not only from the Republic of Moldova, but also from Russia, Europe and the USA. She concluded agreements with the largest online trading platforms, with one condition – to ensure a monthly supply of at least 100 books. This further encouraged the production growth. But the expansion process was hampered by the lack of funding and entrepreneurial knowledge.
Quiet books are a trend in children's gifts. Moreover, they are an alternative to tablets and phones – environmentally friendly products help children aged from 6 months to 7 years easily learn about the world around them, in a playful and tactile way.
According to the young woman, such books can have many thematic pages (elements): geometric figures, colors, numbers, alphabet, seasons, fruits and vegetables, children's stories, wild animals, clothing, types of transport. The content of each book is made individually depending on the learning needs and preferences of the child.
„I use felt – a durable textile material," says the craftswoman. „With the help of these sensory books, children develop fine motor skills. The activities can be customized according to the preferences of the little ones or depending on what parents want to teach them."
Suzana Rocoman believes that the protection of the environment and the safety of children are the basis of the development of felt books. Moreover, these are compact and convenient to use both at home and on the road.
„SuzikToys” produces two types of education books – BigBook and MiniBook sized 25x25 and 15x15 centimeters respectively. The company has also expanded the range of products to development mats, tablets with fairy tales, sets of finger toys and decor for children's rooms.
Extended services with EU4Business support
With the support of the European Union through the „Confidence Building Measures” programme, the young woman was able to purchase the necessary equipment to expand her business.
„When I found out that I was on the list of winners, I experienced moments of maximum joy”, confesses the entrepreneur. „Thanks to the „Confidence-Building Measures” programme grant, we rented a room and bought the necessary equipment: sewing machines, a laser, an embroidery machine. We also invested in a promotion campaign.”
Suzana’s future goals are to collaborate with kindergartens and development centers on both banks of the Nistru river, to establish a factory for the production of goods for children, to launch a collection of clothing and bed linen for children.
The „Mentoring in Business - 3. Start for Youth” grant competition, launched in June 2020, is designed for young entrepreneurs aged from 18 to 35. The project is carried under the European Union’s „Confidence-Building Measures” programme, financed by the European Union under its EU4Business Initiative and implemented by UNDP.
Within the project, 26 young entrepreneurs benefited from grants totaling EUR 10,000, as well as counselling to expand their entrepreneurial activity.