YULU is a winner of multiple NAPPA Awards and an up-and-coming family and kids entertainment company that burst onto the international toy scene less than 4 years ago. Since then, their success has been spectacular.
In 2017, only a few years after attending University in The Netherlands, YULU partners Jochem van Rijn and Thijmen de Schipper arrived at the International Toy Fair with their own main floor Javits Center booth — a great start for two not-even-30-something-year-olds. We enjoyed learning more about YULU and co-founder Thijmen de Shipper.
Congratulations on the success of YULU. What would you say is the guiding mission of YULU?
We have a very simple mission: “More Play, More Fun!” But at the core of what we do is storytelling with all of our kids and entertainment properties. It’s all about making fresh, innovative toys and games that deliver creative, imaginative and active play experiences that recognize how today’s kids play and communicate. Bringing smiles to kids of all ages is always our top priority!
We would like our readers to get to know you better. Tell us a little about yourself growing up. What were your favorite activities as a child? What did you enjoy playing the most?
When I was very young I actually played a lot with Playmobil toys. I specifically remember going into the woods with my playset that had a teepee and covering it in mulch to hide it from the cowboy cart that was racing by with six horses and some nasty gunslingers! I loved creating my own stories; I even wrote them down in a little booklet that I still have to this day.
Actually thinking about it, a lot of my experiences when I was younger have had an influence on the toys we create today at YULU. My partner Jochem and I first met when we were in University in the Netherlands. During those days, we bought a huge world map, sand stripped the table and glued it on top of our coffee table as a massive Risk board. A weekly battlefield was organized! Looking back, it really was a start of my fascination with and love of games.
I’ve also loved all things James Bond and I’ve been watching those movies for years as a kid. These spy-themed films have been a great source of inspiration for our brand of Spy Code games. And our first outdoor item was a product called Helix, which was based on a game I played while I was as an exchange student in China.
It was also at University that Jochem and I became entrepreneurs as we developed an app for the rules of soccer, which was sold to the Dutch government just before the London Olympics. That definitely opened several doors for us with many people supporting and encouraging us to start something new. And YULU was born!
What do you hope kids experience when they are playing with a YULU toy?
We want our toys and games to really nurture creativity in kids, ultimately encouraging them to become more inquisitive about their surroundings and as a result, more interactive with people around them. We’re passionate about trying to create new play experiences that people have never seen before. One of our newest introductions, our #SNAPSTAR fashion doll brand of “social influencer” dolls, does just that by connecting with ‘tween girls in a way they can relate to in today’s world of YouTube and social engagement. We’re really proud of this brand.
Where do you envision YULU in the next five years?
Our growth over the last few years since we launched the company has been almost unbelievable.
This year, in addition to taking a giant leap into the world of fashion dolls with #SNAPSTAR, we’re launching a really fun line called Pop Pop Pets and Pop Pop Snotz, which combine the hottest trends in toys – collectibles, slime and fun reveals! New games include King of the Ring, an ice crème-themed stacking game called Oops Scoops, and our new Survival Skillz brand which includes both an obstacle course game called Torch Run and an action game Fish For Fish. New in our YULU Sports category is Double Juggle, in which we put a fresh spin on the traditional game of paddle ball.
Today, we’re an international creator and maker of a full line toy and games in over 40 countries. Pretty exciting. As we continue our journey, we hope to be able to expand the breath of our toys into new areas and new entertainment, and continuing having fun.
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