How did you join Sequin Art?
In 1975, at 16 years of age, I planned on working for 6 weeks over summer prior to going to college. 43 years later, I am still here.
I remember the interview that Stuart Marcus the Managing Director gave me. He passed me a list of maths questions to do. Maths being one of my strong subjects I worked out the answers quite quickly, in fact before he could work the answers out himself.
What Sequin Art design stands out most for you?
That’s an easy one. 0059 – The 59th product in the year 2000. My hero product, this is when it all started. We began to realise what a fantastic product we had. We began to realise the full potential of Sequin Art.
Around about the millennium, when dolphins were a massive craze at the particular time, I decided we should produce a Sequin Art dolphin kit. This product ended up being a key turning point to the Sequin Art phenomenon, and we realised how big the product could really be. This design continues to be a popular one today, even though it has evolved and changed.
Which is your favourite design?
Another easy one. The Horse. When the company purchased Sequin Art intellectual property from a company called Impex in 1987 there were 6 original designs. One of which was the Horse, it has been revamped and had colour changes but like me, it has longevity, nearly as old as I am.
How many Sequin Art designs have you completed throughout your time here?
Well over 500! Some have been fantastically successful, whilst of course, some have suffered disappointment.
We started to exhibit our products at the Harrogate Toy Fair in the mid-1960s. In the 1990s, we took a chance and decided to take Sequin Art to the largest international Toy Fair in the world, Spielwarenmesse in Nuremberg, Germany. Stephen reminisces of fond memories there.
‘Our first time in Nuremberg, there were 3 of us on a small stand, the toy fair was so busy, We used to drive over there through the night with all the samples so we could show Sequin Art to a bigger audience. At first, we received very little interest, but every year it has got better and better.’
Why do you like working here?
We are all children at heart, and what do children like? Toys. What better way could you spend your working life than working with toys and creating new products?
What is your funniest Sequin Art story?
In the first year of Nuremberg, we had travelled through the night, set up the stand and within one hour of the show opening Stuart managed to accidentally break the stand. The stand disintegrated in front of our eyes, with all these Sequin Art products all over the floor. We had to call in professional help to rebuild the stand, not the best start.
Also at Harrogate Toy Fair one year, the stand next to us was called ‘Everts Balloons’ each year they decorated the ceiling of their stand in multicoloured balloons. Every year, Stuart would take great pleasure in popping some of the balloons. However this particular year he went to pop the first row and found that they were all filled with water. Suffice to say, he never did it again.
How has the Toy Trade evolved?
The Toy Trade is ever evolving. The lifespan of new products becomes shorter and shorter as the years progress, we have also seen massive changes with the success of online retailing, to the detriment of the high street. For many years we had wholesalers and small independent retailers the length and breadth of the country, sadly that is no longer the case. However, there is always exciting and challenging innovations ahead.
What is your expectation for the future of Sequin Art?
Even in the modern and technical world which we all live in, crafts will always have their place because people like to create and make things. I am sure we can continue to make products that people will want to buy.
What would you miss most?
100 % The people, customers, suppliers and colleagues. If you sell toys, generally you have a love of toys. And the greatest feeling in the world is when you had a product launched that is well received by the trade.
What is your claim to fame within Sequin Art?
Nothing, just an ordinary chap, doing an exciting job. And on a Sunday evening, looking forward to a brand new week ahead.
Thank you, Stephen.
Keep the sparkle going!