Toy & Hobby Retailer's Familiar Faces profiles key people in the Australian toy industry. Originally appearing in the November-December-January edition of the magazine, Paula Opfer discusses eco-friendly opportunities, keeping staff motivated and working with family. 

Axis Toys Managing Director

How long have you been in your current role?

Since 2003.

What does your day-to-day look like?

No day starts the same and no day plays out as planned based on every day’s little surprises – the joy of running a small business!

For instance I might be processing orders in the morning and doing customer follow ups, social media in the afternoon or stock check and working with suppliers in the evening on shipment planning.

What is your favourite aspect of your role?

That I can keep pushing out the boundaries and working with suppliers and customers who want to ‘play’ too, to create some real opportunities.

I love working with like-minded people. It keeps things interesting and moving.

You really never know how far you can go unless you simply give it a go. What have you got to lose?

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

This is an interesting one as it’s got to be people. With staff you have to make sure that they are on board.

We do that by working with them to share the vision so they don’t feel like it’s just a haul. We organise competitive sport at lunch time and shout lunches – that all certainly helps!

With customers it’s about ensuring we meet their expectations and that they also understand our approach and systems.

What are the opportunities in the industry?

Eco eco eco! And more Australian-made classic toys to encourage more local skilled labour across all ages. This is a direction we’re focusing on.

What stands out as a highlight from your career?

This is my second journey as I ran a marketing and public relations company before.

I started working in the toy industry because to be frank, I saw it as more of a lifestyle choice which I think is pretty common in this industry.

Cliché as this might sound, the highlight of my career has been working side by side with my family – literally from the first step in our business when we went to Sweden and met with Micki, with our three-year-old son in tow, to see what we could do together to now developing a new toy range with said-son (he just turned 19!), to working with my best friend and husband.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, we’re still talking to each other!

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