When you tell people you’ve quit your jobs to go and start your own business, you mostly get the same reaction: “Wow — good for you!”, aka that’s a bit nuts but brave, hope it works out.
When you tell people you’ve quit your jobs to start your own gender neutral toy and book store, then it gets really interesting…
It’s all ridiculous according to this proud “traditionalist” — well boys are just boys aren’t they? Never one to question what this actually means, this idea is so far out of their world it’s almost immediately dismissed. But they usually follow up with “I bet you read the Guardian, don’t you?”.
Missing the point
All they hear is the familiar: children’s toys and books. They usually tell us what a cute idea it is, followed by something about their favourite toy when they were younger. We even had some suggest we stock certain “girls’ dolls” their friend makes #facepalm.
It’s just a phase
This whole gender neutral thing, it’s a nice thought, but just a celeb trend, right? This group are usually older parents who — based on the vast sample of their one or two children — tell us, “well, it’s a nice thought, but my daughter really likes playing with her dolls”, just to reassure us how very “normal” they are. The irony of perfectly illustrating the gender expectations that adults put onto kids every day is lost to this group, but hey, at least it showed us there’s a need for what we’re offering.
Perhaps the hardest reaction — none at all. With this group, you’re never quite sure if you explained it badly, they didn’t hear you (lots of background noise perhaps), or they think you’re crazy but are too polite to say it. Luckily they’ll nearly always segue conversation back to safer areas like where they’re going on holiday or the weather — phew!
To this last group, a massive thank you. Telling people about this “crazy” idea you want to make happen is nerve-racking; we met everything from mild outrage to indifference, but the number of people who said to us “you have to do this” inspired us to take the leap. And, if it turns out there are more dinosaurs in the world than we thought, we’ll be sleeping on your couches, so thanks again in advance.