BUSINESS is bubbling up nicely for one of the country’s most ethical and inspiring manufacturers.
Dr Zigs distributed 10,000 litres of its popular products during the Coronavirus lockdown – that equates to a staggering 10 million giant bubbles.
And the sales surge comes as the company, based on the Vaynol Estate near Bangor, approaches its 10th anniversary.
Bubbler-in-Chief Paola Dyboski-Bryant has big plans for the future; she wants to create a viable, sustainable organisation with a minimal carbon footprint that reflects her own ethics and activism.
A former professional sailor and lighting technician – Paola was the West End’s first ever female spot operator – she is a campaigner for myriad appeals and charities, including dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, end-of-life-care, refugees and homelessness.
Raised in Italy, her father was a Polish war refugee who fought for Britain as an SOE (Special Operations Executive) agent and championed the values of humanity and selflessness.
That attitude and drive has carried Paola and Dr Zigs Extraordinary Bubbles from a kitchen table in Tregarth to every corner of the world, and the best is yet to come.
“We will be launching in the United States soon and have just done so in Australia and South Korea, but my main focus is on being an innovative business that does things differently, and in a much more ethical way, with a huge focus on the circular economy,” said the mum-of-three, who lives in Llanberis with lecturer husband, Daniel.
“We manufacture bubbles, but they are not just toys, there is an important message and they genuinely make a difference to people’s lives.
“That was certainly the case in lockdown; we had so much feedback from families of children with disabilities, or people who had been blowing bubbles for elderly neighbours, gifting them for friends and family, or just using them to keep little children entertained when they needed it most.
“Sales went through the roof, but the most rewarding factor was knowing they had made people happy at such a difficult time.”
Employing five staff and inspired by her youngest son Ziggy – who would erupt in fits of giggles when treated to a bubble display – the company is now focused on eradicating plastic from all packaging and processes.
“I’m aiming for a circular economy model, I want us to be as sustainable possible,” said Paola.
“We are working with a firm in Thailand to introduce sustainable rubber wood, and a community farm in Vietnam. Replacing our buckets with coconuts is another option, and in a couple of weeks we will be delivering bubbles overseas via a sailboat, a completely carbon-neutral shipment.
“At present people send the bottles back to us and we refill them in exchange for a discount voucher, so we are constantly recycling, and encouraging re-use but it’s not enough.”
Neither was a series of giant bubble world records she and hundreds of participants broke at Caernarfon Castle in 2018.
Paola is always thinking bigger, and more importantly, better. Especially for the environment.
“From the moment I sat down and started making the bubbles, all these different mixtures that led to different scents and senses, I knew Dr Zigs was going to be special,” she said.
“I had £20 worth of stickers and bottles and never looked back, but it’s not all been down to me, I have a brilliant team who have worked so hard, particularly in past months.
“We have gone on to complete a PhD in bubbles, provided bubbles for a collection of artists at Paris Fashion Show, and even appeared on stage with the Kaiser Chiefs!
“I am a Big Ideas Wales mentor and I tell the children and young people, if I can make a living by making bubbles, you can do anything.”
Paola added: “Our Bubbles not Bombs project is testament to that, to bringing peace and happiness to others.
“It’s not just about bubbles, but they are the vehicle for all of this. If you see something not right in the world, go and change it. That is not easy to do, but you can make a difference.
“I would love Dr Zigs to be the name people think of when they make bubbles, we just want to be different and shake things up – it’s a different way of doing business
“I want to change the world and make it a better place, it’s that simple.”