When our good friends from the band Rabbit! hopped on the Delivering Happiness bus during our Los Angeles stop, they brought some interesting musical instruments including a cat-shaped keyboard and a bee-shaped maraca to help them play their song “Possibility.” Little did we know, the instruments, with whimsical names ranging from Meowsic to Parum Pum Pum are from the B. toys line, a young company that lives the tenets of “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profit, Passion and Purpose” everyday, not to mention embodies the lyrics of “Possibility.” B. Founder Gisela Voss took some time to answer questions about her company, her entrepreneurial inspiration, the importance of culture and things that are a little weird that make her happy.
How did B. come to be?
We dreamt it. After decades of making toys, a team of designer-friends at DoodleDo, in partnership with family-run manufacturer Battat, decided it was time for toys that made a difference. To the world and the children in it.
As parents we all hold the opportunity of a lifetime, literally, in our hands. The formation of little humans is our legacy, our gift to the world. Who those children become happens in the daily decisions, in the fleeting moments of everyday life. Even in what toys kids play with.
At the end of the day, we all buy toys to help us raise our kids. Good and happy kids.
Fair. Honest. Kind. Good. Happy.
Hence our toys. With the one-letter name.
Creative, intelligent, delightful. And much more important, generous –– the way we want our kids to B.
Is there a single moment or person you can credit your desire to be an entrepreneur?
My abuela made everything by hand. Enormous 14-people banquet-sized crochet tablecloths, guava jelly, memory games to teach me to read. My Mami knits sweaters for every one of her 10 grandchildren and bakes the most amazing Key Lime Pie.
I think watching these strong women in my life making things from scratch taught me the pleasure and pride of creation. Building a brand from zero is a similar process. The best ingredients coupled with passion and an obsession for making all details special — plus a whole lotta love — and voilá: entrepreneurship.
How important is culture for your company and how do you maintain it with your growth?
A culture of unbridled desire to B. GOOD to kids, their parents and our planet — in all things we do, big and small —is very important to us.
We are just a year old and we honestly don’t have our growth all figured out. Is it OK to admit that?
We have been surprised by what we call voodoo throughout our process. We have been so stunned by wishing for things and watching them come true that we keep looking for the magic cloud over our heads. The Delivering Happiness bus is among our blessings!
What are some of your core values?
Do what you love and do good. We printed it on every toy box.
What inspired you the most about Delivering Happiness? What have you applied to your own company?
What struck me like a loud AHA knock on the head about Tony’s book is that he did not think of Zappos as a shoe store. He saw Zappos as delivering happiness, not shoes!
Something as personal as what a mom and dad hand to their most precious little one to play with is not just a toy! It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Literally. At the end of the day, our goal is to be bigger than a toy company.
We want to be a voice to children that says it’s okay to be curious, to be pensive, to be loud, to be happy and sad all at the same time, to be generous, to be afraid, to be quiet, to be wild, to be fun, to be open, to be scientific, to be poetic, to be giddy, to be serious, to be smart, to be free, to be you.
What's a little weird that makes you happy?
Rubbing out toe jam from between every single one of my little ones’ toes makes me happy. Playing “este chanchito” in Spanish with every piggy along the way. Receiving an international letter with all the seals and honest-to-goodness licked stamps (no peel+sticks) on it makes me happy. My husband’s bedhead hairdo in the morning makes me happy.