Passion for what you do can move mountains.
Padraic Cuddy of Ireland is the creator of The Field Toy that helps inspire real world, screen-free, and imaginative play. Available in two sizes, this must-have field toy is free of batteries and features lush green grass, hedging, traditional wooden farm gates, farm animals, a tractor, and more! Creative play is proven to have intellectual, emotional and social benefits, and The Field toy is the perfect way to help boys and girls ages 3+ get away from the screens and use their own ingenuity to develop a farm world right in front of their eyes.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Back in 2015, my then three-year-old son, Tommy, asked one day if I could make him a toy field so he could play with all his farm animals and tractors. I was fortunate enough that I owned a synthetic grass business, which gave me the materials to construct a realistic looking field for my son. I added a timber gate reflective of traditional farm gates and hedging so that none of his animals would escape! When I presented it to him later that day, he couldn’t contain his excitement at owning his very own piece of land to graze his animals. He still plays with his toy field and gets as much enjoyment out of it now as he did back then. I often look at this first prototype and think about how far we have come in a relatively short period of time!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Planning is everything. I plan my entire day out the night before, as I own and run two businesses–a synthetic grass business and the Field Toy business. I have to be very disciplined in how I structure my day, and I am also fortunate to have great staff who I trust to run my synthetic grass business when my time is occupied with The Field toy! And with our recent launch in the United States of America, all my time as of late has been spent working on The Field toy.
A typical day starts at 6 am, where I respond to emails and I check schedules to ensure the day ahead will run smoothly for our synthetic grass business. We are suppliers of premium quality synthetic grasses to residential, commercial and industrial clients all over Ireland. Once this is done, I speak with the team to ensure they have everything they need to complete their projects for the day. This might be checking on stock and ensuring equipment and materials are on site so work can commence straight away. Once the synthetic grass business has been looked after, I turn my attention to The Field Toy!
Again, I check the schedule for the day. While most days can vary, there are some tasks which I need to repeat each day, such as checking with our sales representatives to ensure stock levels are maintained across the stores we sell to. I regularly schedule calls to our manufacturing plant in China to ensure quality control and shipping dates are strictly adhered to.
The rest of day, I focus my attention on building The Field Toy’s brand. For the American market, we have purposefully chosen to sell directly to consumers via our dedicated Amazon storefront at . Right now, my time is taken up with ensuring we are highly visible on Amazon and creating a presence in the states. We are not only a new brand, but also a new toy concept and this will take time to build.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I spot a gap in the market or a genuine unmet need and develop and research my ideas. Once I know there is a market for my idea, I go after it. With our Field Toy, it was immediately obvious that this product had potential to be a success both in Ireland and internationally. The toy, yet simple in idea, proved to be very popular among Tommy’s many friends and family!
Once I established that there was no other toy product like it either in Ireland or internationally and there was a market for such a toy, I took a chance in showcasing the Field Toy later that year at The National Ploughing Championships in Ireland. This yearly international event showcases all things agricultural to an international audience. The Field Toy proved to be a great success at this event and a new business venture was born!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Because of the area we are in, that of toys, I am genuinely excited by the trend to move away from battery-operated toys to toys that stimulate creativity and imaginative play. While it is still a niche market, I feel like toys that encourage children to develop through doing and learning are always going to have a place in the toy market. I am enjoying this current trend particularly for younger children to engage with toys that challenge them and stimulate their imaginations and development.
From a business perspective, the move away from brick-and-mortar stores is also exciting for a small business like ours. The greater move towards online purchasing allows a business like mine to compete on the world stage! If I was to invest in distributing my Field toys to stores across America, I honestly don’t think I would be able to do this and may never have the chance to do so, as the cost implications would be prohibitive for a small Irish company such as ours!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I am not sure if it’s a habit, but I would say having a strong belief in what I am doing and following it through to the end helps me be more focused and productive as an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never be afraid to take the big steps! Failure builds resilience and often brings great success!
Try, try and try again! Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, and ask for help!
Passion for what you do can move mountains!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am a shy person! To be in business, you need to wear multiple hats. One of them is that of a salesperson, which I find easy when I love my product, as it’s not about sales but more about sharing my love of the product. So in my business life I am probably not shy in that sense, but while not in work, I tend to be quite and somewhat shy at times!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It’s more about having a strong belief in what you are doing than doing one thing over and over. I firmly believe that if you have belief in your abilities and that of your product, you can make it the success it deserves to be! Positivity breeds opportunity!
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
We have moved away from a brick-and-mortar business model for new markets, focusing our energy on a dedicated ecommerce strategy. This has facilitated our rapid international market growth.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Before I started my synthetic grass business back in 2010, I was a civil engineering contractor. When the Irish recession hit, contracts dried up and I needed to look for other ways to support my family.
So I diversified! By looking at the Irish market and asking the important questions, I looked for which unmet needs were there and how I could fill them. The answer came in the form of synthetic grass, as in the late nineties there were only a handful of synthetic grass suppliers in Ireland. To be quite honest, the product they were selling wasn’t that good, as it wasn’t produced with the Irish market in mind. Suppliers purchased synthetic grasses from China, as it was far cheaper but these grass products didn’t reflect the Irish landscape and the quality wasn’t where it should have been.
Having identified this as a real problem, particularly in the domestic and commercial markets, I set about researching the products available and developing synthetic grasses which were made specifically with the Irish market in mind. These grasses would be reflective of the natural colors of the landscape, and of the highest quality.
So, when my contracting business was no longer sustainable, I sought out a new business venture. It continues to go from strength to strength and, of course, directly assisted in the development of The Field Toy!
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
For now, my total focus is making The Field Toy a global success one step at a time, starting with building the Field Toy brand in America! The next business idea will have to wait while I try to make my existing business idea a major success!
I would, however say that there is definitely room for more creative toys which can be passed down from generation to generation. It’s a niche market but one in need of new and exciting toys to stimulate children’s learning and creativity!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It would have to be on marketing activities. While our marketing budget is small, it’s amazing what you can achieve with as little as $100–the power of social media platforms is incredible! A direct connection with consumers is where it is at for businesses.
The other is probably on toys for my little girl’s 5th birthday. She loves playing with Slyvanian families, fairies and animals and is always looking for toys she can play with using her Field toys!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Our ecommerce site allows us to see sales in real time and, thus, help us gauge where we need to align promotional spending. It’s invaluable for managing stock and spotting product trends and consumer spending habits.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I am not sure I could recommend just one book, as I feel that if you read books, especially business-related books, you learn from each of them. It also depends on where you are in terms of your business journey!
I have read two interesting books of late. The first is “It’s Who I Am: People Who Discovered their Purpose and Passion” by Conor Kenny, an Irish author. The book captures the thoughts of 14 Irish business leaders of recent times, all told in the first-person narrative. It makes for an interesting read and I can relate to it as an Irish entrepreneur.
The other book is “The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa” by Irene Yuan Sun. It provides a fascinating look at how China sees Africa as a global manufacturing powerhouse and is investing accordingly. China sees Africa differently to the West and believes the continent can industrialize dramatically in the coming years in the way other economies have.
What is your favorite quote?
I have a few, but right now it has to be “Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” — Anthony Volodkin, founder of Hype Machine.
This quote will always ring true, because if the product or service is not up to par, then no matter what lengths you go to promote your product/business, it will ultimately fail. No one wants a bad product or experience!
- Failure often breeds success!
- That Big Idea is often found in the simplest of places!
- Knowing there is a market for your new product is the first step to success!
- Plan to Succeed!
- A strong focus and self-belief can make the impossible possible!
- Be undeniably good, No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that!
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.