Goldfish Gifts is known for its beautiful wooden mobiles, award winning Balloon Balls, colourful Rainbow Ribbons and whimsical fairy doors, that are produced by a close-knit community in Bali. With no two pieces ever the same, owner Elisa Doro explains what goes into producing these mini works of art and how she came about creating this happy cottage industry in Bali.
The Goldfish toy story began in 1989 when Elisa Doro and Roel Visser were traveling through Indonesia on their way to work in a far northern part of Italy. In Bali, they designed a collection of colourful and original children’s mobiles that they had produced by a small community. They bundled them up and so it was in Italy that they sold their first mobile. Together they spent six months traveling through Europe selling their wonderful children’s toys.
Upon returning to Australia, their van become a regular visitor to markets and fairs across the country where Elisa and Roel would often find themselves sleeping in the back on top of the toys at the end of a busy day. Finally in October 2000 they were able to realise a life-long dream of opening their very own bricks and mortar toy store in the quaint town of Berry, NSW. As they say the rest is history.
How do you sum-up Goldfish Gifts in a nutshell? We’re all about originality, colour and happiness. We don’t conform to fashion or trends and our products are designed to last. What makes us really happy is that our footprint on the earth is small but our footprint on the hearts we meet is giant.
What can you tell us about sustainability of the manufacturing process in Bali? All wood used is plantation or MDF. It’s a true cottage industry where people work from home with family, animals and Gods all around them. There are between 20 and 30 people working for us in Bali. I have been working closely with my producers for over 20 years and together we have learnt, laughed and even cried, but always been positive about the Goldfish products and the impact they have. From a quality control perspective each mobile goes through at least 15 sets of hands in the production process. Now that’s handmade!
Handmade and chemical-free toys are in high demand these days, what’s your view? Parents love the fact that Goldfish Gifts designs toys that are handmade, non-toxic, Fairtrade and ethically made in Indonesia, from a range of different materials for safe play and development purposes. And the fact that each piece is unique makes it even more special! They are made with a smile with the intention of making you and your children smile too.
What do you think is the appeal of the mobiles? Happy wooden mobiles are handmade totally, they are colourful, stimulating, fun and funny, perfect for babies. All the paints used are non-toxic and the wood used is either MDF or pine from controlled plantation forests. The bags they come in are made in another small village on the other side of Bali where previously unemployed stay at home mothers gather to gossip and work together..and there’s lots of smiling too! My favourite is probably the Ozi Mobile because it was purchased by the last Governor General to gift to Princess Mary of Denmark’s first baby. Suppliers to royalty! My Balinese suppliers were so impressed and proud.
What do you think is the appeal of Balloon Balls? They are small safe toys that mums love because they are lightweight and the balloons never pop so they don’t scare the little ones. The balloon ball moves more slowly through the air so it is great for hand-eye coordination leading to catching, throwing and bouncing. They are handmade, even the fabrics are personally chosen and hand batiked, which gives them those nice bright colours and appeal to children. It can be used again and again and is machine washable. To re-use simply insert a new balloon for safe and fun indoor play! Best of all it packs flat for easy travel.
What can you tell us about the Rainbow Ribbons and the Fairy Doors? Both handmade, these toys ignite the imagination. The beautiful one metre long rainbow ribbon set features every colour of the rainbow, it is the perfect imaginative play toy. The Rainbow Ribbons are attached to a sturdy wooden ring handle that includes a small bell to create music. The Fairy Doors are very organic and natural looking, blending in with nature but also whimsical. You could expect to trip over something like it in the forest.
Why has it been important to you to keep the production process in Bali? The workers really are like our family now. Over the years we have helped to send a few of the workers’ children to high school and always give them a bonus payment at the end of an order. We feel very happy, and proud of these wonderful people and their handwork. We have recently been able to employ another 10 women. Previously these women had no opportunity for work because the village was so far removed from tourists and business people, but now they are all happily sewing. It’s so great to visit and hear them all call out, “Hello Elisa! You have more jobs??” We hope to keep saying “YES!” for many more years to come.
Beautiful, safe, ethical, handmade products made in a happy cottage environment. What more could you ask for?
Goldfish Gifts Australian Retailers https://axistoys.com/Goldfish-Stockists
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About Axis Toys
Since 2004, Axis Toys has specialised in distributing quality imports for Australia and New Zealand within the toy, gift and lifestyle markets sourced locally and from Sweden, Finland, Germany, Poland Spain and China. Our quality product range is primarily niche oriented – each product bringing a very strong point of difference to its category. All our suppliers’ products conform to the latest safety standards and we are able to supply disclaimers for each supplier to verify this fact.
Axis Toys is the exclusive distributor in Australia and New Zealand for DoodleArt, Goetz, Lundby Dollhouses, Micki, Miniland Educational, PlayBox, Plasto, Sassi Junior, Chic Bayer 2000, Kathe Kruse, Skrallen, Leolandia, Kiddus, Cayro, Wooden Story, Little + Sleepy and Goldfish Gifts. They are also the developers of the ColourAway and Scribbla brands. They are the exclusive distributor for WWF in Australia and the agent for Steiff Bears in Australia and New Zealand. Axis Toys is a member of the Australian Toy Association.