The Kiddiwinks LEGO® brand might have been solidified in 2001, but the truth is our LEGO® passion began long before that.
During her childhood in the 1970s, founder Bryony Poulter played with her treasured LEGO® sets, a piano, a milk truck, forklift and a family of people who had round faces and little knobble hands.
“Some of my earliest memories involve creating fantasy worlds with our treasured LEGO® sets.” – Bryony Poulter, Kiddiwinks founder
When her first child was five years old he had fallen in love with trains. After trying model railway sets unsuccessfully, they heard of the LEGO® System 4561 Railway Express and set out to track down.
After trying every store in Cape Town without luck, they went straight to the suppliers, LEGO® South Africa. While LEGO SA couldn’t supply directly to the public, they suggested contacting a certain shop. However, they too were unable to assist. Unwilling to accept this as the final word, a proposal was created and presented to LEGO® South Africa – to trade as a mail order business supplying LEGO® products to the public.
At that time, Kiddiwinks was a kids’ clothing business, creating original designs sold mostly in craft markets over the weekend. But that would soon all change. After a lot of persuading, LEGO® South Africa finally gave in and it was time to spring into action.
“Our first order was, indeed, our train with all its accessories.”
“There was a minimum order quantity at that time and we took orders from people until we had half that amount, and then agonised over how to make up the necessary figure to place the order.
“We started the business because we couldn’t purchase a LEGO® set that we wanted. But, over time, we realised that there was a gap in supply. Many people in the Southern Suburbs struggled to find the LEGO® products they wanted.
“This was the driving force for so long – to source and supply sets that people were looking for.
“As more and more businesses started stocking bigger ranges of sets, it became more important to grow a family of customers based on a mutual passion for a product.”
A few of the Kiddiwinks family’s favourite sets over the years
The launch of an online store came next in 2004 – the first time LEGO® products were offered online in South Africa. The next year, online orders became possible to collect from the very first LEGO®-only shop, operated solely out of the Poulters’ garage, which served as storage and showroom all at once.
The Kiddiwinks brand soon became the go-to for great LEGO® sets, offering more than just product, but experiences too. In 2006, they launched the LEGO® Education products, allowing home schools and individuals to get the products into their homes. No one else in Cape Town sold the education products then and this is still the case today.
It was around this time that Kiddiwinks got involved in the coaching and mentoring of the FIRST LEGO® League teams, opening the doors to the robotics offerings. In 2006 alone, Kiddiwinks entered four teams with three qualifying for nationals.
Kiddiwinks had expanded so well, that in 2007, they started supplying LEGO® products wholesale to small businesses.
The Kiddiwinks mail order-turned-online LEGO® supply business lasted for almost a decade before the decision was made to take the plunge into retail in 2011 with the opening of their Palmyra Junction shop. This was in part driven by a dip in online sales that Kiddiwinks had seen – presumed to be due to the increasing competition in the online space.
“With my mother predicting the doom and gloom of financial failure, I signed a lease for a shop in a very surreal moment.
I still sometimes feel like I am playing shop-shop.”
The passion for LEGO® products has continued through 18 years of Kiddiwinks. Not only has the entire family become involved with Kiddiwinks – from grandparents to grandchildren – but they are all as enthusiastic about this magic brick as they were on day one.
The key, says Bryony, is to never lose sight of the magic.
“LEGO® bricks hold a world of opportunity for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ability.
“Find the moments to create a dinosaur that looks more like a horse or build a castle for a king. Don’t be limited by the ‘I can’ts’ that the world teaches us.”