5 Minutes With...
Name: Kylee Bidder
Company: CA Australia
Years exhibiting with Reed Gift Fairs: 2
Your brand/business in one word: Magical
What inspires you to innovate? Where do you look for trends and inspiration?
As a new mum seeing my daughter smile is everything. I want to create adorable soft toys that spark joy for every child, connecting them to the incredible animals around us and building a better world for them by using eco-friendly, raw materials. I am endlessly inspired by the incredible natural beauty and wonderful wildlife that surrounds us.
Do you have any advice for anyone in a creative block?
The outdoors inspires creativity with its surroundings and gets your creative energy moving. So get outside, take a deep breath and be present…
How do you know you’re onto a winner when creating a new product?
We talk to our retailers to find out what they want and we understand what’s important to our consumers. So when we create an adorably unique plush that delivers on the retailer/consumer needs and sparks joy with our team when they see it - we know we are onto a winner.
Describe what a typical working day looks like? and how that changed for you over the past year?
Talk to my team, check in on how they are going, touch base with our customers, talk to our suppliers and work on new exciting new designs. There is so much to do when you run a company, so each week I write a list of the things that need to be done and give them a priority, this keeps me focused on the things that will have the biggest impact each day. Phone calls and video calls have unfortunately replaced most of my face-to-face meetings so I can’t wait for Reed Gift Fairs to see everyone again!!
Did you have to migrate your business online/or if you were already online, how did this impact the way you do business with your customers?
We were already online but with more of our retailers and consumers moving online we reviewed every aspect of our website to see where we could improve our site navigation & make it easy for our customers to see the information that is really important to them like; stock availability, carton quantities, new products and our best sellers. Stay tuned a new site is launching soon!
Customers love your business because... We are a small business with a BIG heart.
Something we might not know, but will be glad found out about your business: If you can imagine it, we can probably bring it to life in plush! We have the number one manufacturer of realistic plush at our finger tips and they can make magical, beautiful, static or animatronic creations that will bring your stores, shops, museums, wildlife parks, events - or even homes - to life. Anything from a 7cm bird to a life size brontosaurus plush recreation is possible!
We’ve got a time-machine, you can go forward, back, or stay in the present – thinking about your time in business, where do you choose to visit and why?
I would travel back in time. My father started CA before I was born and sadly passed away many years ago. He instilled in me the importance of serving the world around us and the concept of being caretakers of this incredible planet, so it is our responsibility to take care of it so the next generation can enjoy it as we have. His passion for making a difference is what CA was built on, at a time when he was a market leader in his designs and ideas, so I would love the chance to work side by side with him at that moment.
What feedback have you got from your customers on how it is to be in retail right now?
Many of customers have said how tough it has been and how ready they are to get back open and put the last 18months behind them. Without international travel for such a long time, people have been thinking ‘local’ - whether it is travel or shopping. We are hoping that this continues and that our customers in and around Australia see more and more locals spending money at home!
What is the beauty of aligning your business with face-to-face trade events like Reed Gift Fairs?
We love the opportunity to meet our customers face-to-face to build our understanding of their business, and how we can support them in driving growth.
What’s one piece of business advice you’d give to yourself 10 years ago?
We all have the power to drive the change we want to see so be brave and embrace your purpose, have the courage to commit to it 100% no matter how hard it gets. It is the magic that aligns your business with your core values, it unleashes passion, it drives transformational change and most importantly it makes a difference to others beyond you and your business.
As a manufacturer of plush toys, I really believe we have a responsibility to serve the animals we recreate and the children who grow to love them. At CA our purpose is clear: to spark joy and make a positive difference to the world around us. This purpose guides every decision I make, it is the heart of our strategies and it is the goal post for every toy we design.
What’s one piece of business advice you’d give anyone wanting to start their business?
Be clear on your purpose - your reason for doing what you do. Be focused, determined and resilient, and have plenty of initiative, take both advice and criticism, use it to be better yourself and your business. And most importantly believe in yourself.
What do the next 12 months look like for you?
Big, bold and beautiful. We have really listened to our customers and used these learnings as the basis for our innovation. We are launching more new products than ever before in 2022 and 2023 and will continue to add to our Eco initiatives and support some great causes, in line with our values and sustainable objectives.
What’s the biggest lesson/takeaway for you from what we’ve just endured over the past two years?
Over the past 2 years we have faced a truly unprecedented situation. COVID-19 has affected our families, our businesses, our communities, and much of our way of life. It really highlighted how important it is to be agile, to be resilient and the importance of connection to our customers and consumers.
Share with us the bestselling products we need to know about
By far our number one best seller for the last couple of years has been our magical, and very realistic possum puppet. We have been innovating heavily and developing a number of new products which will give the possum a run for its money. Our new kookaburra puppet is spectacular!
What product/range are you personally most excited about right now?
Our gorgeous puppet range is getting BIGGER AND BETTER, we have 25+ new puppets launching over the next 12months, all lovingly brought to life with beautifully soft fabrics and intricate airbrush detail.
Do have any teasers for what we can expect to see from you in the future?
More new products than ever before, bigger & better display pieces with market leading animatronics & our most engaging displays ever!
Can you tell us your secret to keeping your customers returning for more?
We really value our retail partners, and continue to develop unique new products as well as reinventing our existing products to ensure they are the most adorable plush