Street Wise

Animal Attraction

Sugar and spice and everything mice.

Names and ages: Nicolette and Matthew Collins, 34 and 37, respectively

Company name and description: Wild Zoo Design creates fun, colorful furniture for toddlers. "We haven't taken an existing design and scaled it down," says Nicolette. "We design things from a child's point of view."

Creature comforts: Beds, chairs and dressers look like teddy bears, dolphins, rabbits and more.

Based: Bend, Oregon

Founded: 1996

Start-up costs: $250,000

1998 sales projections: $760,000

All abroad: The couple left their native England in 1985 to run businesses in the Caribbean--Matthew in architecture and Nicolette in graphic design. They eventually combined their talents to launch Wild Zoo Design and relocated to the United States after determining Oregon was a top spot for secondary wood products manufacturing.

The color of money: "We came to the States with all these great ideas for furniture in bright, funky colors," says Nicolette. "But then we realized the market didn't quite take to that. Once we toned things down, sales picked up." In fact, the couple just doubled the size of their manufacturing facility.

Safe and sound: The bookshelves remain stable--even if scaled by a toddler. And dresser drawers have holes instead of knobs, so little hands can open them more easily. Says Nicolette, "As parents of a toddler, we know how many ways [kids] can hurt themselves on things and what their needs are."

Contact Sources

Quantum Gameworks Inc., 620 Folsom Ave., 3rd Fl., San Francisco, CA 94107, (800) 832-5624

Wild Zoo Design, (888) KID-U-LUV, http://www.wildzoo.com

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This article was originally published in the February 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Street Wise.

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