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Movers & shakers

Authentic brand for discerning moms

from Ulrich Texter

The Californian lifestyle brand Petit Collage wants to conquer the "old continent" with Swiss company Carletto AG as its distribution partner. The firm navigates the toy, creative and gift industry with its vintage and retro look-inspired assortment that is intended to tempt sophisticated mothers. We talked to company founder Lorena Siminovich.


Spielwarenmesse®: Ms Siminovich, you moved from New York to San Francisco in 2005. The city is ranked among the top 10 of the world's most creative cities. What makes Frisco so unique? In the "Summer of Love" over 50 years ago, the city was once the mecca for music, fashion, art, graphics, in short...for the avant-garde.

Lorena Siminovich
The entrepreneur Lorena Siminovich is a San Francisco based designer, artist and author.

Lorena Siminovich: San Francisco has indeed a rich history and beautiful Victorian architecture, it’s a very small city too, only 11 km wide, which makes it very intimate. It is also the home of the biggest social media and tech companies, attracting a lot of international talents which makes for a vibrant city.

In 2006, you founded your company Petit Collage, which is all about design. It's typified by mid-century design and your Argentine origins. You love the vintage style, all with a retro touch. What makes your collection stand out in comparison to, say, European toys?

L. S.: All our products are designed and illustrated in house which gives the line a very cohesive look. We also think of Petit Collage as a lifestyle company, more than a traditional toy company, which can be seen in our breadth of the line from backpacks to dinnerware to books to toys. We also offer gifting solutions with diverse price point and age groups in mind, as well as different materials. We navigate the gift and toy areas staying relevant in both environments. Our universe is communicated in all marketing, our photography in catalogs, and social media.

These days, design is a global language. National preferences or even schools are barely conceivable now. What must design – and especially toy design – do today to ensure that it is understood and bought around the world?

L. S.: The challenge is to obtain a global appeal, while still keeping a strong design point of view and not be bland. With a world that is all connected, keeping fresh and ahead while nurturing classic play patterns and kids developmental milestones is our goal. Our line is now sold in more than 30 countries, so I want to think the look and feel of our goods transcends languages and that in itself, I consider a success in design.

And what does the typical Petit Collage mother look like?

L. S.: The discerning mom, she chooses organic when possible, she doesn’t like licensed characters, she wants to surround her family with beautiful products. She believes in the promise of a childhood unplugged, quality over quantity, and she knows her choices impact the environment, she looks for authentic brands and good value in her purchases.

My Crafty - Animal mask kit
Petit Collage inspires kids with many craft kits and colouring sets.

The Petit Collage range has grown to over 150 products in six categories. Now you want to conquer Europe with the help of Carletto. Which segment gives you the biggest opportunities? We suppose the beautiful pop-ups!

L. S.: We think of this six categories as co-existent solutions, not individual categories, the success of our line is in the whole as it merchandises and mix and match so well together. Certainly the most illustrated product such as puzzles and games, and magnetic activities are a point of focus, as well as early years.

As a designer, author and artist, you must have a weakness for creative toys.

L. S.: I think you mean craft kits?

Yes, we are thinking of precisely those products that help to influence a child's creativity in a positive way.

L. S.: We are launching, in the summer, a line of DIY craft kids one for preschool, and one for older kids, we are very excited about this new opportunity.

Since 2015, you and your husband have been running a lifestyle kids shop in San Francisco. According to Peter Gygax of Carletto, Mapamundi Kids is one of the premier addresses in the US. What makes this shop so unique?

L. S.: Thanks so much. The store goal is to curate the best items for kids, from fashion brands, to toys, to books to home decor. We take the guesswork out for our clients, they come in, or visit online and everything they find is something they would like. Instead on quantity we focus on quality and design, so we have one doctor kit for example, that we really like and chose carefully, not multiple. We also rotate the assortment seasonally to offer something fresh all the time.

Ms Siminovich, you love Scandinavian design, but so does probably half the world. In your shop, we didn't see some of the big Scandinavian toy brands. Why is that?

L. S.: Yes, I do love Scandinavian design, and Mapamundi kids carry many brands we love, such as Brio, Plus Plus and Rice DK. We do not carry Lego as we have more of a boutique feel.

What is your hope for the future of Petit Collage?

L. S.: To see the brand evolve and reach a wider audience while keeping our DNA. To be a household name and be part of more kids' lives.


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Author of this article:

Ulrich Texter

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