Toys with personality, manufactured of natural textiles
The elephant was the first toy model manufactured in Cristina Lupu’s workshop. The toy, made of cotton, pleasant to touch, of beige color, catches the eye, with its chic aspect: “Our workshop is the place where we create friends for children. We create personalities with which children will gather memories and live adventures, we create memories for generations.”
The idea of developing her own brand came in 2017. At that time Cristina was 25, she was on maternity leave, and she felt the need to create something beautiful and unique. “For several years my husband and I launched a toy store in Ungheni, and I have taken over the management of the business. As time passed, I understood that I didn’t want to just sell foreign toys, I wanted to create my own, original toys. The market research showed that we had few textile toys made in Moldova: several businesses of handmade toys and for the rest – a market full of imported products.”
Cristina Lupu looked for ways to develop her idea and for funding opportunities, she developed a business plan, found a niche on the market and left room for a lot of creativity to bring to life some unique toys. And so, since 2019 she started to manufacture soft toys of natural materials, under the Bubulino brand name.
“Our toys (elephants, bunnies, mice) are made of natural textiles, they are non-allergenic, have clothes with embroideries and detachable accessories”. She has always liked handicrafts, but she admits she didn’t dare to pursue this. “I studied journalism at the University, but I always liked handicrafts, and everything related to creativity. Maybe this comes from my family, my grandmother is still sewing national blouses, towels, tablecloths,” notes Cristina.
Toy making requires a lot of patience
Three people work in Cristina’s workshop, but in the future the number of employees will increase to up to five. The entrepreneur says that her main challenge is to find dedicated people with whom she could build a team. “It is very difficult to find the right people, they should have a lot of patience and dedication. Now the process of filling the toys is manual, it is very meticulous takes a lot of time,” the developer of Bubulino explains.
Thanks to the grant offered within the EU4Moldova: Focal regions Programme, in the amount of €18,367, and to her own contribution of € 2,570, the entrepreneur bought new equipment which will soon be in her shop and will allow her to diversify and half-automatize the production. “Thanks to the EU4Moldova: Focal regions Programme, we bought a zigzag sewing machine which will allow us to make decorations on the clothes, furniture for the distribution of our toys, maintenance equipment, as well as equipment to fill the toys – the filling is done manually now, and this is a very thorough process”. With these purchases, Cristina Lupu will be able to bring her business to a new level, she will optimize the production process and will enlarge the range of goods.
“I recharge emotionally from my clients’ feedback”
For now, Bubulino toys are sold in two stores in Ungheni, but Cristina Lupu also intends to sell them in Chisinau. According to the developer, many orders are placed online, as the brand has a profile on social media. The Bubulino items may be customized by embroidering the name of the child on the toy – this is attractive for many parents who want to make a unique gift to their kids.
Cristina Lupu plans to enlarge the collection of toys by adding new models, to diversify the colors and, why not, to launch some new products for babies.
The developer of Bubulino recognizes that the positive feedback of her clients is lifting her motivation and helps her maintain the enthusiasm and work with dedication on her project. “I still recharge emotionally from the feedback of my clients, it is an absolute pleasure when those who buy something come back and tell us how soft the toy is, how much they like the quality. The appreciation of our clients makes us follow the quality standards and not least, validates our product,” Cristina mentions.
Cristina Lupu is one of the 28 beneficiaries of the grant programme for the business sector in the focal regions of Ungheni and Cahul, 2020 edition. 16 existing companies, 10 startups and 2 social entrepreneurship initiatives benefited from grants in the amount of €15,000 – 30,000 each.
A new call for grants for the entrepreneurs of Ungheni and Cahul regions, 2021 edition, finalized in June, the proposals being now at the final assessment stage. The total value of the grants dedicated for the business environment in Cahul and Ungheni regions, which shall be offered during 2020-2024 within the Programme, is of approximately €1.7 million.
“EU4Moldova: focal regions” Programme (2019-2024) supports smart, green, inclusive and sustainable social-economic development in the regions of Cahul and Ungheni, to provide to the citizens a better quality of life, the programme has a total budget of €23 million, is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).