little gypsies

It's so true when people say there are so many great things to buy for children now. Even so, there are still too many "made in China" products for my liking. Quality is always preferred over quantity. And if a product has a story, all the better. That's why I've fallen in love with the carefully selected pieces on Little Gypsies. Here's more about the online shop from owner Casey Arnaud...

How and why did you start Little Gypsies? The Little Gypsies website was launched on December 1 2007, yet the Little Gypsies concept was imagined about two years ago while I was travelling. It was on one of these adventures abroad that I first thought about how to capture the richness of travel and make it accessible for kids and their parents to enjoy. On returning home each trip, I was surprised and flattered by the amount of friends and colleagues who asked about my daughter’s eclectic, feminine wardrobe, exotic toys and general awareness of the world. I realised there was no one particular place that people could buy gifts for kids that were different to the standard mass-produced items. I started to work on my original idea and soon after Little Gypsies was born. Over the past few years, I have discovered some amazing clothes, toys and decorations that are fun, playful, well made and steeped in tradition. It has taken two years of thorough research to acquire a collection that is not only beautiful but also meets most of these five core criteria: ethical, charitable, traditional, educational and collectable.
What has been the response? Extremely positive and very rewarding. It is such a great feeling to know my gut instinct and research into a huge gap in the market has paid off. And the best bit is I really feel what I am doing is morally right; it feels great to create a multi-layered business that gives back to the community in various ways. Along with a great flow of sales since December 07, I receive gorgeous emails weekly from admirers of the Little Gypsies site and concept. Letters such as this keep me focussed and proud of this new concept I am making happen.
How is having your own business different to what you expected? The business itself is pretty close to what I had envisioned. Obvious though as it may seem what I did not take into account was the loneliness that can sometimes come with a web-based, computer-focused business. I am learning to balance my days better now to combat this.
What has been a highlight? Going to Laos with my daughter for the first buying trip in November 06. It was incredible to be there experiencing a new country and it's beautiful people with my little girl. We both grew a lot from that trip, experiences like that really create incredible bonds.
Where do you look to for inspiration? My four-year-old gypsy girl Sequoia and her free-spirited friends, all travels abroad, markets, alternative green magazines and photographic exhibitions.
What's the best lesson you've learnt so far? I think the key lessons I have learnt so far from my previous business Arnaud and the new Little Gypsies business are to firstly research the market to see if there is a gap or demand for what you want to do. Research your competition, be passionate and honest about what you do as this speaks volumes to people, and lastly be optimistic but also realistic with planning. Make sure all aspects of the business are taken care of; if you do not excel in an area hire the skills of someone who does and map out clearly where you want to be going, by when and how you plan to do this.
What are you passionate about right now? Little Gypsies velvet jackets I just got on my last trip: they are beautifully made, are really warm and look stunning on kids. And yoga and my health, as I am four months pregnant I am trying to do what I can to keep my energy levels high and body feeling toned.

If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? Anita Roddick (The Body Shop founder), I think I would walk away feeling pretty inadequate and possibly quite intimidated by what one person can achieve in their life, but also very inspired. My first real job at 17 was at The Body Shop, and I was in awe of her then as I am now.
What are you looking forward to? My next planned trip to Mexico, early next year, the birth of my second child and my harmony in my relationship.
What are you reading?
Shantaram (unfortunately it has taken six months as keep reading emails instead) - it is an incredible story but due to the size of this novel I leave it at home for bedside reading only.

Images courtesy of Little Gypsies