Child’s play: money-making inspiration from small business expert

Business ideas are never in short supply when it comes to Irvine Green. The Johannesburg entrepreneur analyses everything he sees to better understand where entrepreneurship opportunities might lie.

One source of inspiration is children, Irvine notes in this blog for Biznews. He recounts the story of Popsiebelle, the creation of a Port Elizabeth entrepreneur who got the idea after hearing her child struggle to say “popsicle”.

Irvine is a serious fan of Popsiebelle and reckons it could be better than Hello Kitty with the right work. He’s not related to the creator, or on her payroll, though you’d be forgiven for thinking so when you read what he makes of this character and its money-making potential. – JC

Child’s play: money-making inspiration from small business expert


Let NOTHING pass you by…

By Irvine Green

Longer term readers  of this blog will recall my moment of ‘unintended brilliance’ (!) one day at cubs in 1982 after a computer familiarisation session when I realised the passion of kids for things techno.  And that to fully get any particular part of computer operations across to a child regular sessions like this were necessary – in fact a few days in a row, all day, with breaks for other things – so I asked what the kids thought of the idea of a ‘computer camp’, without even explaining the concept to them. To which the answer wasn’t  ‘A WHAT?’ but rather ‘WHEN?’ Which in retrospect many years later, made me realise that the idea of ‘computer camps’ was immediately visualised in THEIR heads – long before ‘I got there’. In fact, those kids, all under 10, could probably have written the camp timetable and philosophy for me.

The point of this intro is this. Children sometimes say or do things that most adults pick up as just ‘cute’, or not meaning much, or as an inability to correctly pronounce words or formulate ideas until a certain age. I would imagine that many of my readers have experienced this (with either their own children, or grandchildren/relatives kids).Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 14.08.45

Now while I don’t know the full origin of  the loveable product called ‘Hello Kitty’ I can imagine the products name was sparked by those two words, possibly spoken by a child in a cute manner… hence the product as we know it. A cute kitten whose image no doubt comes to you as you read this. Seen everywhere in our stores on just about every product imaginable.

In the above case we’re talking about someone somewhere having said ‘Hello Kitty’. But how about a child not being able to pronounce the name of something simple? And on hearing that mispronunciation the child’s mother, one day, for no known reason (as was my sudden idea of computer camp) visualises the child’s own word for something as a cute product the market place would want.

“Oh come on”, I hear most of you say. “If a child can’t say a word, that’s life. One day the child will get it right. What’s with this idea of  it causing creative juices to flow ? Whatchu been drinking?”

Indeed, one day the child WILL get it right. And the likelihood of a parent seeing a creative product in the mispronounced word is one of those ‘one in a billion’ (or more) situations that are a rarity. But then there’s seven billion people on this planet so seven parents WOULD see a product in the cute word. Let’s say the chance is one in seven billion – one person would see the possibilities in this word the child can’t pronounce.

And guess what? That HAS happened. The ‘one in seven billion parent’ (and child) are South African.

This happened to Port Elizabeth graphic designer Ingrid Frauenstein. When young, her daughter Sophie (now 10) couldn’t pronounce a word we all know – popsicle. Sophie called it a ‘poxibelle’. One day Ingrid (the creative type) got the idea to slightly modify that word  and make it a NAME of a product, known as Popsiebelle. And? The result is a fantastical range of characters brought to life as soft furnishings and accessories, marketed on the web.

But wait.. as direct sale TV ads say.. there’s more. The ‘relationship’ translates into WHO Popsiebelle IS, with adventures and stories that bring her to life.

So the concept of Popsiebelle extends BEYOND just being a range of cute products. The website ( extends to the story behind the brand, brings the characters to life as digital storybooks, along with downloadable ‘wallpapers’ and the Popsiebelle range of products.

Ingrid explains. “The aim is to use everyday products children use to act as a platform to aid a child’s imagination”.

Now that’s what it’s all about in business and life isn’t it? Imagination and taking a chance. What doesn’t work adds to ones knowledge where not to go wrong next time. “Take every opportunity you are given”, says Ingrid. “And unless you try you will never know what works for your brand”.

Popsiebelle products were first sold by word of mouth, then at local markets, then in retail outlets down PE way and finally, the internet was added. Now it’s a popular brand, still in its infancy.

So I’m putting forward a challenge to my blog readers. Read up on, support, explore, buy Popsiebelle products, follow and @popsiebelles on twitter.

WHY? Firsly because, in MY view, this is the number one most imaginative product of its kind ever to surface in SA, and also because it deserves to be THE BRAND that successfully competes with Hello Kitty, My Little Pony, Bratz and Barbie, etc. And even – I would like it to be so – leaves all these others ‘eating its dust’.

Again, WHY? Because Popsiebelle is new, innovative, fresh, has a positive image that isn’t related to anything previously seen or existing and is Proudly South African from it’s moment of birth. (The day Sophie couldn’t say ‘Popsicle ‘ and said ‘poxibell’ instead). And it didn’t just wash over her mom’s head. It sank in for some reason, got played with and processed sub-consciously, and one day popped out again as a brand.

The creativity, colour and all the rest are purely South African. The exchange rate is in our favour, the quality of product matches anything in its competitive market and the ideals related to it are as clean and pure as water from a spring.

SO. How about a Popsiebelle product for the next child you know who has a birthday? And send the web access details to friends and family overseas. Let’s make Sophie, Popsiebelles indirect inventor, the female Steven Jobs of children’s products when she is old enough to run the brand. Perhaps the basic marketing line could be “A popsicle makes life worth living’.

And, no, I wasn’t paid to write or place this. Creativity like THIS is what spins MY dial. Sophie turned her mom into a forced entrepreneur. Like, gee, wow, crumbs, unbelievable.

Exactly, so get into making THIS NEW BRAND the MARKET LEADER. Starting NOW.

For more by Irvine Green, read:

All fired up: Small business ideas for free

Walls of fame: Making money for yourself, and your neighbours, from public advertising

Making money on the beach: water safety business ideas can make you rich – Jhb entrepreneur

Why I don’t do small business with South African government: entrepreneur

How to promote small business on a small budget – expert advice

Small business advice: Easy tax tips for sole proprietors