STARTING SMALL SERIES: Bannor Toys

Mompreneur shop small Small Business starting small STARTING SMALL SERIES

The focus of the Starting Small series is to introduce you to some amazing individuals who have built their own businesses from scratch. They are full of passion, life, and love. Once a month, we feature a new business owner, and pick their brain regarding how they started their business, advice for those who have/wish to have a business themselves, how they make time for themselves, and most importantly, which they love most about being a small business owner. I hope these individuals will inspire you, motivate you, and fill your heart with as much love as they've filled mine.

Chatting with Stacey Bannor, Owner of:

1. When did you first decide you wanted to start a business and what was your inspiration? Tell us the story!
Jesse wanted to make toys for my daycare kids for Christmas one year....I looked at the little truck he had cut out, said "honey, thats really cute, maybe we should sell them!"....6 months later he quite his corporate job to launch Bannor Toys full time!

2. You're a mama and a business owner, which means you're quite the busy lady! How do you incorporate your family + business + personal time into your day?

I don't think I do it well most days, but I try.  I don't go to work until the kids are off to school and daycare, and I try to get out of the studio shortly after they get home in the afternoon.  If I have to work late, its generally after they go to sleep.  Jesse and I try to make a point to plan dates a few times a month too....whether its a big night out or just taking the morning off to go fishing or out to breakfast, it matters. 

The Bannor Family

3. What are three pieces of advice you would give to a mama who is interested in starting her own business?

Ask for help.  No one can do it all alone.  Whether its help with work, help with the kids, or help with the house...my 2 assistants, part time daycare, and a maid once a month have been key to my sanity. Also, it's ok to take a break.  When we first started, and even now, I would never take a break. I'd stay up until 2 am working at the computer and then get up at 6am for my day job. I literally ran myself down so much that I was sick constantly. Learning to shut it all off at a certain time was a big turning point in my happiness and productivity. It turns out, sleep is super important. And last but not least, have fun! If you are dreading what you are doing each day, its not worth it. 

4. Where do you look to for inspiration for new designs?
Our kids!  We love to see what they play with and like and then see if we can turn something back into a traditional yet modern classic wood toy.  Jesse and I will sit up and brainstorm toys and ideas late into the night as well.
   

5. What was the process like for deciding on the name for your business?

It's our last name!  It seems like every other small toy company has a catchy name that has something to do with trees or nature. But we wanted something that would stand apart, just as our toys stand apart in quality.  Both Jesse and I come from very hardworking families and at the end of the day we wanted to build a company that had substance and meaning behind it to pass on to our kids.  We hope that someday our Bannor Toys not only reflects the quality toys that we make, but the calloused hands, the sweaty brow, the hard work, and the dedication that we have for what we do and for all the hard working family that came before us.

6. What has been the most difficult part of creating and managing a small business? What has been the most enjoyable part?

Learning as we go.  Neither of us has a business degree, so we've learned a lot of things the hard way running this company.  Stepping back and asking for help has also been challenging.  Bannor Toys was 100% us, Jesse and myself, for the first couple years. Realizing that we had gotten too big to manage it all ourselves was both good and bad.  Our dream was coming true, but it meant handing over part of that dream to someone else and praying that they had just as much invested in it as we did.  It's taken 6 years, but we have the most amazing team of people who not only work for us, but WITH us. Bannor Toys has become so much more than just a little toy thing, we're a company, a family.  The most enjoyable part...I look forward to Mondays now. This is the first "job" I've ever been totally passionate about and wouldn't trade it for anything. 

7. Favorite quote:

You'll need coffee shops and sunsets and road trips.  Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs.  But people more than anything else.  You will need other people.  And you will need to be that other person to someone else, a living, breathing, screaming invitation to believe better things. - Jamie Tworkowski
These mountains you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb. - Naiwa Zebian
And my grandpa always used to tell us "Take care of the ones you love.  If you do that, the rest will take care of itself." He was right.  

8. Tea or Coffee? Early Bird or Night Owl? Heels or flats? Sunshine or Snow?

Coffee, with lots of cream.  Middle of the day gal here.   Flats or running shoes.  Cool autumn days with sweaters and changing leaves.

Want to learn more about Bannor Toys? Check out the links below!
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