Interview by The Platform
💬 Tell us a little about yourself
Hi! My name is Kai (he/him) and I’m 16 years old. I am Autistic and Dyslexic. I love manga, anime, anything to do with Japan. I enjoy exercise, playing chess, D & D and talking about my special interests. I am also the founder of my family-owned business: Kaiko Fidgets!
✨ How did you start Kaiko Fidgets?
I started, with the help of my parents, when I was 11. I started making fidgets for myself because I couldn’t find anything suitable for my age after being bullied at school for using toys as fidgets in class. It just started with making things for myself but very quickly others took interest in what I was using and I started selling them at markets.
My Mum would do craft markets. And I would bring my fidgets and sell them there. More and more people were asking for them, so I decided to make it a little business. After it got more popular, I did a teen business program. Then we got a website and started to wholesale to stores.
Since then the range has grown massively and it is now quite a large business, supplying over 100 shops as well as selling online!
🌿 What do you enjoy the most in your work?
I love that I get to help people daily, just like me, and that they share how my fidgets impact their life. That’s the best bit. I also love that I get to carve out work that suits me at a time/place that suits my sensory needs rather than do a typical job like work at Maccas for example.
I think the hardest thing for me is sometimes I just want to be a kid and not do much but there are orders for products that need to be made. My dad helps me though so I am never forced to work when I don’t feel up to it. I tend to have bursts of hyper focus where I will make 700 fidgets in a week, then can't make another for months… part of how I'm wired I guess. That can be tricky but we as a family accommodate that.
⭐ What are some key things you've learnt through the process ?
Definitely start with something you like and are passionate about. If you’re not, it's super hard to stick with it. Understand that sometimes things don’t work and you have to not give up, keep trying/reinventing/problem solving… this is what makes you successful. I've learn more from my errors than things that worked first go. Our motto is go hard or go home - for us it means take risks and don’t look back … well learn from mistakes but move forward I guess. I love that we are home based, really helps with being logistics. Listen to your customer … you will learn lots about what works/is good from them - if you listen hard enough soooo many great things will result. That said also trust your gut and try ignore the knockers.
💡 What goals do you have for your business this year?
Ohhh… last year it was to go global. Which has happened in a small way now - we have 2 stores in New Zealand, USA and UK each that stock a small number of our things which is pretty cool. Having a good life is being able to enjoy family and friends. It’s being able to travel and help other people with my products. Having a goal to work towards is what gets me through challenging times. My goals are to grow my business and one day be able to own my home.
💻 How can people interact with Kaiko Fidgets?
Our website is www.kaikofidgets.com My mums email is firstname.lastname@example.org. She is an Occupational Therapist and the one that answers emails (she chats to me about them though) as being really dyslexic I struggle with reading and the written word. You can also contact us & follow us on Facebook, Insta and Tik Tok.