Many people inspire us including OMY founders Marie-Cerise Lichtlé + Elvire Laurent
Why did you decide to start OMY?
Having children really made us want to change the way we worked and develop something that was our very own. More specifically, we wanted to create something for our own homes that didn’t exist already. A product that was beautifully designed but also doubled as a project for the entire family. We love interior design, so we wanted something that we would put in our living room as much as in a child’s room. Our first idea was a three-metre-long colouring roll, which we made in our office. Little by little, we worked on the packaging and the concept—something that was different, made in France and high quality, but also with a very strong image. The giant XXL colouring roll was born.
What were you doing before you started the company?
Not much—we’ve been working together for more than ten years now! We met when we were studying graphic arts at Arts Déco in Paris. When we graduated, we opened our own graphic design studio, called OMY, where we worked on creating logos and websites for clients. But all along we had a burning desire to make our own stuff—products that we wanted for our own homes, but that also allowed us to be more creative.
What are the things you most enjoy about OMY?
The most exciting part about having your own company is the freedom you have to create, to move, to think. Working with OMY allows us more freedom to make whatever we want, and our products allow us to travel the world and share our work with so many people.
What are the things you find hard about being a toy-maker?
We don’t consider ourselves toymakers—we’re designers. That is part of the challenge: to make the concept of colouring-in something that appeals to everyone, of every age, everywhere. On all our packaging we write “from 3 to 99 years old”. I think we’ve designed a product that both children and adults love to use—something that is an element for the home and interior. Something to help all of us both learn and create.
What is your most popular product? Why do you think it’s so popular?
Marie-Cerise: From the moment we launched the XXL colouring roll, the concept was a hit. Five years ago, it was something that didn’t exist. But as soon as we launched we were being sold by some very trendy and popular stores in Paris, like Merci, Bonton and Fleux. These stores helped push the brand and the concept and we are now sold in more than sixty-five countries.
Elvire: I think the success of our posters comes back to their universality: there are no language barriers in the world of OMY. They are items to share together as a family, to create alone or to decorate. We then took that idea of the giant poster and have created a collection of different cities, themes and styles in all different sizes—from stickers to pocket games, to puzzles, to posters. We never stop creating.
What inspires your products?
To stay creative and renew, you need to be curious and aware of everything around you—watch movies, go to art exhibitions, dream. To take the time to think is not always easy, but it’s so important. For us, the creative part comes naturally; we work really well as a team. The inspiration is harder, but it comes from everywhere: design, books, fashion, music, Paris, travel. Spending time with our children and our family is also very important, and many of our best ideas come from them.
What was your favourite toy as a child?
M-C: When I was a little girl I loved playing with Lego. I had an enormous collection and I would spend endless hours creating landscapes and buildings. I also played a lot with my older sister. We would play with dolls and board games, but we also spent a lot of time drawing together and inventing stories. At that time there were not many electronic games and our parents didn’t let us watch TV, so it forced us to be more creative and imaginative.
E: When I was seven years old, I was obsessed with Barbies. I would imagine intricate stories and lives for them. I also loved to make forts and imagine different worlds with my brother and his friends.
What challenges have you faced?
M-C: We started five years ago and have grown very quickly, so we’ve had to learn a lot of big lessons very fast. We’ve discovered that the hardest part is to properly communicate your vision and ideas to others. It’s just so important to be surrounded by good people who understand the business and where we are coming from and where we want to go. The more people there are, the harder it is to keep a strong direction, but it’s a challenge we relish.
E: Plagiarism is also a big issue. We worked so hard to design and create this concept; it’s always difficult to see others using your ideas as their own. But that is why we try to innovate all the time and to always create and stay inspired, to stay ahead of the game.
What are your dreams for OMY?
Our dream is to be able to continue to create freely and continue to have fun. We are opening stores in more and more countries, and we recently opened our NYC office, which is very exciting for us. We have been available in the US for four years and have done some great collaborations, including with MoMA, who was one of our first partnerships. We’re excited to bring our products into more and more homes across the world and continue to expand our collection into clothing, stationery, dinnerware and more. The sky is the limit!