Congratulation on winning the Best Toy Store in Malaysia at the BabyTalk / MamaPapa Readers’ Choice Awards 2019, and thank you for agreeing to do this interview!
Thank you very much and thank you for interviewing me!
Tell us about yourself and what you did before this?
I’m just an ordinary mum with two boys who had a full time job before having children!
What made you decide to go into toy selling business? When did the idea become more than an idea for you? How exactly were you inspired?
At the time, my life was consumed by kids’ birthday parties. When my boys were very young, it was normal to invite the whole class so you can imagine every weekend there was a party to attend!
I wanted to find special toys as presents for all these parties, but the market in Malaysia at the time had limited choice. I was fed up of buying cheap throwaway toys and was looking for toys that had educational value but at the same time were fun to play with.
So I decided to bring quality toys to Malaysia myself and opened Janie & Joe in 2013!
What does Janie & Joe stand for? What’s your role at Janie & Joe and what do you enjoy most about it?
When we were deciding on the name for our toy store, we chose one girl’s name and one boy’s name. I felt that this would project a more friendly brand image for parents and kids- we want our customers to feel that they’re visiting a friend’s playroom when they come to our store!
I have several key roles. I select every single product we bring into Malaysia personally. I visit international toy fairs regularly, and I deal directly with toy brands, so this way I can be assured of the quality of the toys we offer.
I also manage our online business, we have our own e-commerce site www.janieandjoe.com and we also have storefronts on Shopee and Lazada.
I handle customer enquiries personally and work closely with my colleagues to ensure we provide a great experience for our customers!
What types of toys do you carry in your store; why did you choose to focus more on them?
We have toys that are educational and at the same time fun. Young children learn through play. It’s never too early to start nourishing children’s minds just like you feed them nourishing food!
How much do the toys children play with impact their development?
A lot! The more traditional types of classic toys like puzzles and blocks are important for building foundational skills and developing children’s understanding of mathematical concepts.
We have many types of fine motor skill toys that help children with building their hand/eye coordination and ultimately this helps them with skills like handwriting.
Our play food sets and pretend play kitchens and encourage social skills development, imagination and independence in kids.
We also carry many games and STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) toys which are developed especially to help with logic, spatial and mathematic skills.
Our wide range of arts and crafts and activity kits stimulate creativity. It’s all invaluable!
That’s why we like to focus on top brands like Melissa & Doug, Learning Resources and DJECO. They have the budget for research and development, so they’re always refreshing their range of products and introducing exciting new toys that offer play and educational value. We have a great relationship with these brands. They share with us their research findings on what works best for children, and we post many of these ideas on our website blogs.
Any tips for parents with young children out there for choosing the right toys for their child?
Choose the right toy for the child’s age and development. Avoid choosing a toy that is too difficult or the child will quickly lose interest.
Follow a child’s natural interest. If a child is into cars or cooking, there are many of these themed toys which have educational value.
Do you have any plans in place for further expansion and development?
We’re happy with our store in Bangsar Village, our loyal customers are like good friends. But never say never!
We’re growing our online business so we can reach a wider market throughout Malaysia. Parents who live outside of KL are also seeking quality, educational toys. We don’t want them to miss out on the great toys that Janie & Joe offers!