A lovely guest Blog from the head honcho at Sophie Le giraffe Uk!
Wednesday, 4 September 2013 | Mummy and Little Me
Lots of parents agree that Sophie la giraffe is a lifesaver when it comes to teething babies, but what’s behind the success of this little rubber giraffe? Ginny from 1 Two Kids (the UK distributor for Sophie la girafe) fills us in on some of the interesting facts about Sophie and what makes her so unique…
Sophie la girafe was created in France in 1961 by Monsieur Rampeau who was an expert at transforming sap from the hevea tree using rotational molding to make toys. Sophie was named Sophie because she went into production on 25th May - St Sophies day. Since then more than 50 million Sophies have been sold worldwide and she is now one of the best loved baby toys ever created.
Vulli, the manufacturer behind the Sophie the Giraffe brand, is based in the beautiful Haute Savoie region of France in the Alps, in a small town called Rumilly quite near to Annecy.
The team at 1 Two Kids and I recently visited the factory in France and Sophie la girafe is actually still made in the same way she was way back in 1961, by hand and with more than 14 manual steps in the process. Vulli takes the sap from the Hevea tree, which looks like milk or cream, and pours it into specially made plaster of paris molds. Each mold is only used about 30 times as it absorbs moisture from the natural rubber and becomes saturated, at which point it is disposed of and a new mold used.
Once the natural rubber has been poured into the Sophie mold the 2 halves of the mold are closed togeher. The mold is then placed onto a rotational molding machine - basically a large metal arm which slowly moves the mold about so the liquid rubber inside moves evenly all over the shape of Sophie leaving a hollow centre.
The mold is then left to stand on a rack to allow the Sophies to set. After this stage the mold is cracked open and the rather naked looking Sophies are pulled out one by one. The Sophies are then left to dry out and ensure there are no further changes in the natural rubber, which can sometimes take more than a month depending on the time of year and humidity levels.
The next stage is when each Sophie has her rough edges smoothed off by hand, and then the squeaker is put in place. The food grade paint is applied, again by hand, for the spots, cheeks, feet and horns, and finally the eyes.
Last, but not least, a batch number is etched onto the leg. Every single batch of Sophies is safety tested to all the worldwide standards for use by babies from birth + so parents can know she is a very safe toy.
Then she's placed carefully into her gift box (after checking her squeak!), and shipped right around the world to babies everywhere.
Sophie la girafe was created as a giraffe becasue in 1961 the only toys available for children were domestic pets - cats and dogs etc, and a giraffe seemed very exotic and different. The giraffe was also chosen because of the great shape - a long neck for a baby to hold onto and legs, ears and horns to teethe on.
Sophie is now very popular in the UK and proudly won the UK Mother and Baby Gold Award and is a Mumsnet Best product. Her success has really been engineered by parents who pass on the magic secret of this little French giraffe to all their friends with new babies, and it’s this word of mouth marketing that has ensured she is nearly as popular here in the UK today as in France.
But later in the Autumn this year we do have a new toy coming along who has stolen all of our hearts...I can't reveal anymore right now but I think he has a chance of being almost as loved as Sophie is. We are very excited! Watch this space...