Although not as problematic as delivering toys all over the world in just one night, finding a printer who would produce personalised children’s Christmas books did prove difficult for Cork company Writing for Tiny.
“Printers didn’t want to print one book at a time, there are no economies of scale in this, they only want to print runs of hundreds or thousands,” said company founder and CEO Gail Condon, who persevered with a search for a printer and eventually found one just in time for last Christmas.
Twelve months on and the business is taking off, as the staff at Writing for Tiny deal with online orders for more than 2,000 personalised editions of its seasonal book ChrisMystery.
“Most customers have been in Ireland but we are sending books to Europe, and the UK, and some to children in Honolulu, the Cook Islands, and South America,” said Ms Condon.
Poised to launch in the US early next year, the company is now offering a range of five books, while also preparing for the release of eight new titles in 2016, as well as a new range of dolls resembling the book characters.
The biggest selling points for Writing for Tiny are that it produces “the most personalised books on the market” and “that the stories, which deal with changes, worries, and milestones, all have a positive message for children,” said Ms Condon.
“Some companies offer books which include the child’s name, but we also personalise details about the family and we personalise the child, putting in the colour of their hair, eyes, and skin, as well as their names.”
Bestsellers in the range, which sells online for €28, include one for children with new baby brothers and sisters, as well as ChrisMystery, where the message is that Christmas is about giving and kindness, and not about being greedy, added Ms Condon.
The winner of the Cork award in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur Competition this month, Ms Condon has come a long way since she first began drawing children’s picture stories to distract patients while working as a paediatric nurse in 2012.
Prompted by a positive response from children and their parents and a desire to set up a business of her own, she gave up nursing and enrolled in the Launchbox Incubation programme at Trinity College in 2013.
Realising that she needed more than her drawings to set up a children’s ebook company, she got assistance from her Local Enterprise Office and found a developer to produce personalisation software.
Launching on the market with seven e-book titles at a book fair in early 2013, it quickly became apparent that children and their parents wanted books that they could hold in their hands with pages they could turn.
After that came a long search for a printer willing to produce one copy at a time. Finding one, Ms Condon revamped the website and launched in November last year.
Selling in the region of 1,000 books in a short space of time convinced her that, despite all the obstacles, Writing for Tiny was an idea which could work.
This year she signed up for the AIB Start Up Academy and in September moved Writing for Tiny from Dublin to the Rubicon Centre in Cork.
She also secured €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding from Enterprise Ireland, which helped her take on a graphic designer as her second employee.
For 2016, Writing For Tiny, which has now found a second printer in Dublin, is planning to scale up production and to launch new books written by Ms Condon, dealing with issues such as the death of a loved one, ill- health, moving house, separation, and emigration.
Now that the printing issues have been sorted out, she said Writing for Tiny has the capacity to develop sales of tens of thousands of books.
- Company: Writing for Tiny
- Location: Rubicon Centre, Cork
- Set up: 2013
- CEO: Gail Condon
- Staff: 3
- Business: Personalised children’s books
- Exports: 20%
- Website: www.writingfortiny.com