One young man orders LED wheels from us, which he mounts on a paddleboard and makes adventure evening cruises on the Vltava, says businesswoman with children’s lights Petra Žbánková

owner of the Sdeko brand Petra Žbánková / photo courtesy of Petra Žbánková

It is often said that women on maternity leave can do the impossible. Exactly such a case reflects the story of Petra Žbánková, who founded the Sdeko brand with an equally interesting assortment of lights for children during her parental leave.

Throwing a parent into business often sounds like a dream, but it’s usually a thorny path that isn’t for everyone. When did the impulse to create a business with children’s lamps and lights come?

In our country, the impulse to create a Sdeko shop with children’s lights came very slowly. The idea was actually born in my husband’s head about 7 years ago, 2 years before my maternity leave. The husband is an avid admirer of LED technology, studied electrical engineering and also worked for over 10 years in a company producing LED lights. He had access to LED technologies and took part in many foreign light fairs as part of his work and beyond. He formed in his head ideas of what and how is missing on the Czech market, what might be liked, new to produce, etc. And I joined him as a “puller” who helped make his dream come true. But I managed to implement this idea only on maternity leave, when I finally had time and a clear head to embark on this project in full.

lamps and lights available at / photo courtesy of Sdeko

Are you saying that you have time and a clear head on maternity leave? Most mothers have the opposite …

Well, it was more for me because I got pregnant with my first daughter in 2016 and I was on a high-risk pregnancy almost from the beginning. From the hectic work where I led the team of people, I ended up staying at home and I was afraid to almost lift a heavy pelvis so that it wouldn’t hurt the baby. For several months, I sat idle on the couch, and after the birth of my daughter, I really had a huge need to embark on an interesting project. At that time, my daughter and I were looking for lights for the bed to sleep in peace, and my husband had some samples sent from a friend. The daughter was excited! This is how our first unofficial “employee” was born – tester no.1 (laughter). At that time, my husband told me that I didn’t have to complain all the time that I needed to do “something”, but that I could finally start our lights store. And so it happened. Our brand was created Sdeko – Well “Light decorations”.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

How do such silicone lamps come about?

If you want to have your own silicone animal shape made, you must start making your own mold into which the silicone material is injected. You prepare a design that the designer models for you, and based on that, the mold is then produced on CNC machines. The production process, of course, includes testing the safety of materials and technological processes, but this is already proven by certified suppliers. If the casting is made, further testing takes place – eg strength, tightness test, etc. The silicone part is then fitted with the LED component itself, which contains the battery, including the charging port.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

Today’s mothers place great emphasis on non-toxic materials. The ones from which your lamps are made also meet strict conditions. How important is this to you?

Making lamps from non-hazardous materials is the absolute basis, because mothers often put lights directly to babies in the crib, which they lick, play with them, etc. So you must be absolutely sure that no small part of the lamp will come loose, that the lights do not contain any phthalates or otherwise harmful substances. BPA-free materials are a matter of course. However, we also recommend using only silicone lights that meet not only CE, BPA free certificates, but also RoHS (without lead and other pollutants) – ie lights completely without batteries. Therefore, for small children, we only recommend soft silicone lights with USB charging with a built-in LED light.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

It’s not just lamps, but also magical night lights or water lights that you offer. What do you mean by these terms?

Yes, a special category is our LED water lights, which have a screw thread wrapped in a rubber seal. As a result, you can use them as light decorations in the pool or throw them in the play tub. Often these lights serve as decorations at various events and adventure evenings. E.g. one young man orders LED wheels from us, which he mounts on a paddleboard and makes adventure evening cruises on the Vltava. Various agencies use our lights as interesting decorations, for example in vases or aquariums. LED hearts then often end up as decorations on wedding tables or are sold as original gifts for expensive halves. And then, of course, kids who are excited about the remote control lights, who can set any color or color blend. They can then have fun with them in the bath or pool. This will not bore children. As well as LED playing lights, which you connect via bluetooth and you can play fairy tales or songs on them. This is also a big hit. Our lights also use devices that work with visually impaired children. They use them as necessary and playful tools for developing the color perception and creativity of these children.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

Do you have two small children yourself, how do they react to the lights? Do they have their favorites?

Our children are 2 years old and less than 5 years old and both are very action-packed, so at the moment they are definitely playing lights. They let their favorite songs play on them. Of course, everyone has to have their own lamp in their hand and they jump and dance and get along with them. My daughter recently surprised me, because only now, almost 5, did she start wearing a projection lamp in bed. She has the stars projected on the ceiling and her lamp shines until she falls asleep. Our children are very immune to the standard light-changing colors of various shapes, because they are surrounded by them from an early age. In the living room we have an exhibition of lights for those who come to us to pick up, inspect or try the lights in person. At that moment, our children become interested in lamps again. Of course, exactly the lights that are in the search for customers or their children. This then leads to a struggle for life and death for the lamp, which they would not have noticed for a long time (laughter).

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

How difficult is it for a beginning businesswoman to establish contacts with a component manufacturer or supplier? Is it possible to cover all this with companies and manufacturers in the Czech Republic?

Of course, production in the Czech Republic is possible. But the question is how big a manufacturer you are and whether production in the Czech Republic will pay off. And today it pays off for almost large manufacturers of lights and toys. We have a part of our silicone animals produced abroad, where we have a mold made directly for the type of specific animals, so that some shapes are truly unique and original. However, since we are a small e-shop and we do not sell in thousands or hundreds of pieces per month, but say in tens, we order some lights from suppliers whom the husband has personally met and acted on, they have proven technological procedures, quality and safety of materials. If these are light components that require cables to be connected to a socket or battery, we always buy them in the Czech Republic. Here we also produce our boxes with our own designed graphics, other packaging materials, leaflets, etc. We use skilled photographers and a studio about 200 m from our house for product photos. In fact, the network of collaborators has been gradually created and packed up over a number of years thanks to various meetings, and it is still functional and sufficient.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

What was the hardest thing for you in the beginning?

Probably find out what everything will actually need to get our idea to the customer. Having an interesting idea is very simple, but there is still a long way to go to the sale itself. We had the e-shop designed fairly quickly. I got a skilled photographer for product photos or videos through recommendations, and we also managed the e-shop content or texts relatively easily. But the work came at a time when we wanted to “be seen”. This is where the issue of setting up an SEA of your own e-shop and then, of course, the area of ​​advertising began. Participation in the fair “For Toys and For Babies” in 2017 probably helped us a lot in our visibility in the beginning. they bought from us for other siblings or as gifts for acquaintances. Much then, personal contacts with customers and recommendations from those who have already bought from us and were satisfied also help.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

Christmas is coming, what does it look like in your period, how do you manage it?

Of course, the period from mid-October to Christmas is always hectic, but we enjoy the time very much again. Every year we take a Christmas photo shoot, where we take photos of both lights and our family photos with Christmas decorations. When looking for gifts for children, we will always find some interesting items, which we then put in a package as gifts for larger orders. If necessary, we already have a contracted reinforcement that can rush to our aid. So it’s not something that can’t be done with young children. Today, however, the seasonality of the lights is not so significant, because you are looking for baby lamps as gifts for newborn babies throughout the year, for birthdays or just for a good night’s sleep. In any case, the pre-Christmas time also has its charm for us, because we regularly donate some lights or gifts for charity. In addition, we pack several “shoe boxes” every year, where, depending on the age group, we put a suitable lamp in a box with other gifts, and this also brings us great joy, and we also try to lead our children in this direction.

silicone touch lights available at / photo with permission of Sdeko

Is there anyone or anything else who has helped you make your dream come true?

In our long journey, I was helped by mostly interesting marketing courses of the non-profit organization Attavena, which helps mothers to return to work after maternity or parental leave, as well as beginning mothers businesswomen. My big thanks to this organization and also to our other co-workers.

children’s night lamps available on / photo with permission of Sdeko

Source: MODA.CZ – Pánská móda, dámská móda a vše ze světa módy by

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