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Pig by Kirklan, age 3 (Child's Own)
Pig by Kirklan, age 3 (Child's Own)

Small Business Briefing

Crafty mother turns children's scribbles into toys Add to ...

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From 2D doodles to 3D creatures

The first toy that Wendy Tsao created was for her son, Dani, in 2007.

“When my son started kindergarten, his school asked for a comfort toy to put in his emergency preparation kit. Instead of sending in one of his favourite stuffed toys or running to the store to buy something, I decided to sew one myself” she explains in an interview with Cool Hunting.

“I was thinking of making his favorite animal, but then I saw his self-portrait. He drew it all the time, and it always - more or less - looked the same, with huge eye circles, stick arms and ten long wispy digits. So, I thought, 'why not?' And when I was finished, my son immediately recognized it and was very appreciative.”

Five years later, the Vancouver-based owner of Child's Own Studio continues to build fantastical plush three-dimensional creatures, such as the peanut butter bee, cranky crocodile and four-armed robots. Check out its extensive Flickr gallery here.

Each creation takes approximately two days to make and, though there isn't a set price, the studio provides a quote once the child's drawing is received. While Ms. Tsao accepts the occasional adult request, she finds "accomplished drawings the least inspiring." She admits to preferring the scrawls of children, those that leave room for creative input and interpretation.

Because of the high volume of orders, Child's Own is currently not taking additional commissions for its wait list. But Ms. Tsao recommends similar services in her Softmaker Showcase on the website.

Is Israel the new startup hotspot?

Procter & Gamble's decision to set up an innovation centre in Israel, rather than in Silicon Valley, may be surprising, until you look at the country's statistics.

According to Lital Asher-Dotan, head of P&G’s Israeli hub, reported in Inc.com, the country boasts not only the highest amount of venture capital per person (raising 2.5 times more global VC than the U.S.) but it also has the highest density of tech startups in the world (80 of which trade on the NASDAQ).

P&G's Israel House of Innovation is not the only one reaping benefits for the so-called 'startup nation.' American-base VCs like Sequoia and Benchmark are opening funds (and offices).

What Google's search tweaks mean for small business

In an effort to downplay sites that artificially boost their rankings - whether through paid links or keyword stuffing - Google tweaked the way its search engine ranks websites. The algorythmic shift (known as 'Penguin') has forced a number of small business owners - profiled here by the WSJ - to change strategies or face being relegated to 'the Internet's junk bin.'

While Google says the update is designed to reduce Web spam, entrepreneurs such as Andrew Strass, who co-founded Oh My Dog Supplies in San Francisco, is feeling the heat. He says traffic to his site has plunged by 96 per cent, and he expects to generate only a third of the sales in May he did in March - the month before the changes.

But for other small business owners like Tony Emerson, who owns SpareFoot Inc., Google's move is 'vindication.' He argues that some of his competitors engaged in unfair practices to juice up their rankings.

EVENTS AND KEY DATES

The Remarkable Entrepreneur SuperConference 2

On June 2, business adviser and author Robin Sharma will be in Toronto for his second live event designed to help entrepreneurs and small business owners achieve explosive business growth. For more, click here.

Mesh conference

The two-day Mesh digital conference will explore how the Web is evolving, new and emerging trends, and what’s on the digital horizon. There will be speakers, interactive discussions, networking opportunities and more. It takes place in Toronto on May 23 and May 24. For further details, click here.

EDITOR'S PICKS FROM REPORT ON SMALL BUSINESS

Social media plays growing role in online retailing

Many companies no longer consider social media and e-commerce as separate strategies, but look to social networks to help open doors to a new era of online retailing

FROM THE ROSB ARCHIVES

If you build it right, buyers will come calling

That’s the view of author and entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki, who also offers four ways not to blow it with acquisitors.

Got a tip on news, events or other timely information related to the small-business community? E-mail us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com

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