Inclusive toys trailblazer Little Omo to expand after retail success


Little Omo Christmas Campaign in 2021

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With a range of finely crafted wooden face puzzles, flash card sets, posters and wrapping paper  – and more products to come – the business founded by first time entrepreneur Desriee Asomuyide has representation at its heart. While catering to children of colour, Little Omo sees its ranges as having a wider application too, teaching all young ones from six months up to six years, about diversity and inclusion through play. 

And it was the non-existence of such products Asomuyide found when pregnant with her son Isaiah that prompted her to take the plunge and fill the void two years ago.

Now a variety of skin tones and hair types feature in Little Omo’s puzzles and cards which also include parts of the body, the alphabet and numbers.

Asomuyide, an Essex-based fashion design expert whose family are of Nigerian heritage – Omo means child in the West African Yoruba language – explains: “I realised that the toys teaching my son would not show anyone like him – yet identification is so important in building confidence and he would miss out. 

“That is the much-needed reset our toys achieve. Our wholefood puzzles for example contain foods black and brown children are familiar with, exotic fruits and vegetables such as okra and plantain. This allows children generally to learn about food diversity and become more open to trying them.”

The radical approach doesn’t end there either because Little Omo is one of the few in the domestic toy sector manufacturing in the UK. Each puzzle is hand made of sustainable FSC-certified wood with the pieces stored in an organic cotton bag.

“We have partnered with the few artisan companies in this sector remaining here. All offcuts are disposed of responsibly, the pieces are keepsakes, smooth and very comfortable to touch and the print is high quality from plant-based inks. Making in the UK was very important as it gives me security and control. I’m a perfectionist,” says Asomuyide who had no previous toy market experience and spent seven months developing her idea from scratch.

An e-commerce operation initially, the positive response from parents and teachers domestically and those in north America, helped pave the way for the breakthrough with Selfridges’ London store and online.

This happened thanks to a partnership between the flagship retailer and Untapped Creatives, a platform created by Funmi Scott featuring African and British, Black-owned sustainable lifestyle brands. 

“Selfridges marks a big turning point raising awareness about us,” says Asomuyide who has also got Little Omo into California’s Disneyland and will see a major US retailer come on board soon.

The business is forecasting revenues of £80,000 plus in 2024 and, along with the current £100,000 investment raise, will look for a branding expert to grow business internationally  

From this month it is staging pop-ups in London’s Spitalfields and Hackney, with more puzzles on their way, featuring theme parks and markets. 

It is also broadening its diversity drive with products for a bigger age group planned to include children with disabilities and those of different heights and sizes. Next year a toy kitchen set geared to cooking exotic foods will be unveiled.

Then keeping pace with the emerging trend across fashion to give customers the option of hiring outfits, Little Omo will create a collection of role play costumes for sale or rent available through the Hurr platform.

As the UK’s first inclusive toys brand representing children of colour, Little Omo is a history maker. 

“My aim now,” says Asomuyide, “is to create a brand with many characters that people immediately recognise so children can say “this looks like me” or “like my friend”.”,

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