When I stumble upon monochromatic bedding, my heart skips a beat. Strange, but oh so true. However, when Michel Tidhar Wrote me about her NDOTO (aka bedding for tiny creatures), I paused. Literarily.
Then she offered to send one of her dreamy blankets and pillow covers for my very own mini me. I just couldn’t say no. Could I?
It’s no secret that I’m trying to master the black and white game in my own home and if all things go well, Leo (my tiny creature), will be following my lead (but not if his dad will have anything to do with it!). So… Gray blanket with top notch illustrations? Done and done. And yeah, of course I’m still talking about Ndoto. Every single detail is being thought through. From the color palate to the spot on illustrations to the fabric choice (I need one my size!). I mean, who doesn’t want to make their kid feel super sophisticated?!
I know that Michal really had a mission in mind, which is to save the Israelis from all these overwhelming and super colorful beddings. And she did! But now the world is her oyster. I had to share her journey and let you know how impressed I am by her and her super powers. Let’s just say that the design world wasn’t her first career of choice. Read my interview with her, and you’ll see what I mean.
Michal, take it from here!
I’d love to hear about your journey, how it all began.
My name is Michal Tidhar, I am 33 years old , married to Ron and the mother of Ariel 3.5years old. I shouldn’t forget the dog Toto who is 2.5 years old.
The birth of my third baby, NDOTO, came about in an unusual way, different from most entrepreneurs I know.
I would like to begin by dispelling some of the myths regarding my background: I did not study at Shenkar School of Design ( I have a BA in political science from Tel Aviv University), never formally studied design and I actually had no experience in this world of design. Before NDOTO I worked in the marketing world as well as in the restaurant business.
My love for the creative world was always there but I was only an observer and not a participant. I’ve always had the feeling that I would be an entrepreneur at some point, but never really knew when and in what area.
After the birth of my daughter, Ariel, I decided not to return to my previous job of 5 years, as an event producer. It was a really tough and demanding job. I gave a lot of thought to the idea that I want to start a new business. My friend (and business partner at the time) and I came up with an original idea for a social website (I still think that is was a brilliant idea!). Unfortunately, we needed a substantial financial investment to set it into motion. Financing that we both did not have. After six months of spending lots of funds on a broken dream, we decided to reinvent ourselves.
My partner identified an absence in the market of premium beddings for babies and children. From there we began to do research and market surveys in Israel and overseas. Only after we came to the conclusion that there was a business case, we moved to the creative side to design the beddings. And so, the first limited and simpler collection of NDOTO, was created. A few months after the company was set up my partner moved to Ghana, since her husband was relocated there.
This was (as I thought at the time) a great setback for me. However, as time went by, my world did not fall apart, it only developed and grew.
I rediscovered myself and since then managed to produce a new collection, add new products as well as hire various consultants. I believe I am constantly growing and developing and I wake up every day, feeling blessed to do what I love the most.
Before we move on, I wonder about the meaning behind “Ndoto”.
The meaning of NDOTO is “Dreams” in Swahili.
Can you describe your work process?
My work process is complex and my inspiration for new ideas come to me from various places like blogs, Pinterest, lookbooks etc. Usually ideas begin to develop in my sleep and wake me up at night. Then I know I need to call my illustrator, Mai, and add her to the loop. Mai is one of my beloved friends. Her feedback is always honest and direct. She has this inexplicable ability to get into my head and help me turn my dream into a reality. We sit and make countless sketches, until we feel we got the perfect design.
Alongside the creative process, lies the more realistic financial aspect of the business. When to bring a new product or new collection to the market, think about budget, production costs, cash flow and all sort of other very boring words, which can determine the future of a new idea.
I have lots of new ideas for products waiting on the side lines for the right timing. It’s not always easy, but it is always calculated and helps me proceed in the right direction.
I’m curious to know where does your inspiration come from.
My inspiration comes from anyone and everything
I surf the web for hours. From Pinterest to Instagram to Blogs and to Magazines and then repeat. Anything can set my imagination off. I also like to keep up with the latest trends in the world and try my best to adapt to them, adding my special touch.
What about some web sites and blogs that you visit, when you’re in a need for a boost of creative inspiration?
You just came back from PlayTime Paris. How was it to play in the big league?
This was an absolute crazy experience. More like a roller coaster ride between fright,shock, being proud, being under constant pressure and at the end happiness. I really was not aware of what I got myself into, even though I consulted with friends, who have done it before. Upon arrival, I was in Shock. The amount and sheer number of talented people and beauty that surrounds you is unbelievable. You just can’t wrap your head around it… The next day, my head was in cloud nine, from the moment I realized that the people surrounding me, were quite similar to me. They understood me and my products, they gave me lots of complements on my work. That is the meaning of sheer happiness!
The fact that nothing happens right away or overnight is not something that comes easily to me. I realize that it is only the beginning of a process in which each small step brings you closer to that thing you want the most. You need to be persistent, stay on track and try to overcome each obstacle that comes your way. There are many obstacles but you simply can’t give up. All I can say is that it’s similar to raising children. I have to add that I’m so so happy that I had the opportunity to have my mother by my side, while there. It was so amazing to spend time with her and it defiantly made us even closer. And there is no doubt in my mind that I was much more successful, due to her being there and her unbelievable support.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There were many people who gave me advise along the way. In general I tend to consult with those who I value their opinion. One of the best pieces of advice I received was after my business partner left. I wanted to run off and find a new one. But then someone whom I really value told me not to. Another piece of advice was to not compare yourself to other designers. Just keep focused on yourself and what you want to accomplish. This is what kept me going and still does. You shouldn’t look at others and where they are headed. Go where you believe is your path. In addition, I always use the help of those who can help me with my weakest links.
What’s next? What is your dream? And what are you looking forward to?
At the moment I am busy trying to follow through with all the connections I made while in Playtime Paris. I’m also hoping for substantial growth in overseas sales within the next six months. At the same time, I am already thinking about my next collection (it’s already in my mind!). I hope that by September the new collection will be ready. I’m also thinking about the next exhibition. I’m thinking NYC, but we’ll see. The more you see the greater the appetite. Right?
What’s your favorite Israeli neighborhood and why?
I absolutely love my neighborhood Corazin in Givatiim. It would seem on the surface a less desirable neighborhood of Givatiim which is a suburb of Tel Aviv. However it’s a friendly neighborhood just like I remember from my childhood. Kids can play with friends on the streets. You can borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor. Go to the local grocery store, bakeries, small delis etc. I love the family atmosphere of the neighborhood, it’s the feeling of once upon a time.
Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?
It’s really simple and not really exciting. Just wake up relatively late for a mom, have a cup of coffee and do nothing but be with my husband, daughter and our dog in our living room. I work so many long hours and so this is the family time I love the most.
Israel’s best kept secret?
We don’t ride on camels.
And finally, please do share something random or quirky about yourself.
From the time I was a child till this day I have a busy mind. My Mom always told me that I was a dreamer, head high in the sky and would even bump into things on the street while walking. This gave the impression that I am clumsy, but its actually due to be being in a million other places at once. This is also the case with my daughter. What does that mean?!