Creating Inclusive Toys – Little Omo’s Desriee Asomuyide

Written by

Lauren

Published on

January 17, 2023

Categories

Categories

Time to read: 6 minutes

80% of UK parents believe it is important for kids to have access to inclusive toys, with almost a third (32%) feeling that ethnicity is underrepresented in toys – according to recent research by Fisher-Price in October 2022.

Representation and inclusivity is something that we focus a lot on at Hook and – given the push from parents for more diverse toys and products – we wanted to better understand how brands are working to making kids offerings more inclusive.

Desriee Asomuyide, founder of award-winning toy makers Little Omo, has been on our radar for some time for her line of toys that celebrate diversity. She kindly sat down with us to share her thoughts on the state of the youth toy market in 2023, and how she thinks brands can become more inclusive moving forward…

Creating Inclusive Toys with Little Omo

Hook Research: What inspired you to first start your entrepreneurial journey with Little Omo?

Desriee Asomuyide: It was the birth of my son that first inspired me to start my entrepreneurial journey with Little Omo. As I prepared for his arrival, I was shocked to find such a lack of representation in the learning materials and toys available to him.

Little Omo was born – an inclusive educational toy brand that provides learning materials that teaches diversity through play

HR: What would you say are the key ethos and values behind the brand? 

The key ethos and values behind Little Omo are inclusivity and diversity. I believe that every child deserves to see themselves represented in the products they use and the resources they learn from. That’s why we create a range of learning materials and toys that showcase a variety of skin complexions, hair textures, and cultures and traditions.

We are committed to ethical and sustainable practices, using FSC-certified materials and eco-friendly packaging all made in the UK. Our goal is to inspire and educate children while also making a positive impact on the world. 

“I knew that I wanted to create a brand that would celebrate diversity and provide children with resources that accurately reflected the world around them”

Body Part Flash Cards

HR: What have been your biggest obstacles to setting up the brand? Has anything surprised you along the way? 

DA:One of the biggest obstacles I faced when setting up the brand was the lack of representation and inclusivity in the toy and educational resources industry. It was disheartening to see that there were so few products available that accurately reflected the diversity of our society. 

“I believe that every child deserves to see themselves represented in the products they use and the resources they learn from”

However, the response to Little Omo has been overwhelmingly positive, with 95% of our customers expressing their appreciation for the brand and the values we stand for. 

Unfortunately, there has also been a small minority of people who have been disrespectful and used racial slurs, which has been both hurtful and disappointing.

Despite these challenges, we remain committed to our mission of promoting inclusivity and diversity through play. We believe that our products are beneficial for all children, and it has been heartening to see how the business has grown so rapidly in such a short time. I’m forever grateful for the support of our customers, and I hope to continue spreading the message of inclusivity and understanding to children everywhere. 

As a founder, I strive to make sure Little Omo products helps children become more aware of the world around them. Our products are designed to encourage curiosity and exploration, encouraging children to ask questions and learn about different cultures and experiences. By providing children with a diverse range of learning materials and toys, we hope to foster a greater understanding and appreciation for the world we all share.

I knew that I wanted to create a brand that would celebrate diversity and provide children with resources that accurately reflected the world around them.

Little Omo - Fruit Puzzle

HR: Which ways do you think toys brands/stores could diversify their products more and do you think there is anything they could learn from Little Omo?

DA: Toy brands and stores could diversify their products by collaborating with creators and designers from different cultural backgrounds and experiences. This can bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the table, and help to truly represent a diverse range of children in the products being offered.

“Ultimately, I hope to see a future where all children can see themselves represented in the toys and games they play with”

It’s important for brands and stores to be mindful of the language and imagery used in their marketing and advertising, and ensure that it is inclusive and respectful of all cultures and communities. Finally, it’s crucial to listen to and address any concerns or feedback from customers, and make a conscious effort to continuously improve and evolve in terms of diversity and inclusivity.

In order to diversify their products, toy brands and stores could start by expanding their inclusivity beyond just skin tone and consider different cultures, abilities, and identities. This could include creating toys with different hairstyles, languages, and disabilities. They could also make an effort to hire a diverse team and consult with experts and communities in order to truly understand and accurately represent the needs and wants of all children.

Brands can also learn from Little Omo’s commitment to inclusivity and education, as well as our dedication to creating high quality products that are designed and made in the UK. By prioritising these values, brands can not only attract a wider customer base, but also create a positive impact on the world. 

HR: What predictions do you have for the future of the toy industry and diversity?

This conversation should involve talking about representation of different cultures, abilities, and body types. It’s not just about the products that are being made, but also the marketing and advertising of those products. 

I also believe that the toy industry needs to be more inclusive in their hiring practices, so that there is a diverse team behind the creation and decision making of the products. Ultimately, I hope to see a future where all children can see themselves represented in the toys and games they play with, and where diversity is not just a trend, but a standard in the industry. 

HR: What’s next for Little Omo?

DA: My ultimate goal is to scale the business and continue to grow globally. As a brand, we’ve already made a start by expanding into the US and Canada, and we’re working towards our goal of having our resources in 30% of educational institutions in the UK by 2025. We’re also looking into brand partnerships to spread awareness of our long-term goal of promoting diversity and inclusivity through our products.

DA: My ultimate goal is to scale the business and continue to grow globally. As a brand, we’ve already made a start by expanding into the US and Canada, and we’re working towards our goal of having our resources in 30% of educational institutions in the UK by 2025. We’re also looking into brand partnerships to spread awareness of our long-term goal of promoting diversity and inclusivity through our products.

Little Omo Founder, Desriee Asomuyide

In addition to expanding our reach, I’m always looking for ways to improve and innovate our products. I want to continue providing high-quality, educational resources that celebrate diversity and promote positive representation for children of all ages.

Overall, the focus at Little Omo is to continue spreading our message of diversity and inclusivity, and to reach as many children and families as possible with our products and resources.

A huge thank you to Desriee for speaking with us about inclusive toys! You can learn more about Little Omo on their website.

If you enjoyed this read, you might want to check out the rest of Hook’s Creator Conversation series – we’ve chatted with the founder of Broccoli Content about the importance of championing diversity in podcasts, explored how kids animations can be powered up through research, and shone a light on how new kinds of toys are changing the play experience. Have a read!

The Hook team will also be at Toy Fair 2023 next week – let us know if you’d like to grab a coffee! 

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