Partner Spotlight: Christine Trinh & Simon Tan, Co-Founders of Beejay May
Getting to know Beeja May.
PlanToys joined forces with Beeja May in a partnership to create a sustainable second-hand Canadian marketplace for families. The Beeja May digital marketplace will help create a circular economy for toys and ensure continued life for toys children have grown out of or no longer play with. We spoke with Christine Trinh and Simon Tan, Co-Founders of Beeja May, to share their story, how Beeja May came to be, and what they hope to achieve.
Beeja May is based Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Who are you, and what is your background?
[Christine] Simon and I are a husband-and-wife duo and parents to a headstrong and sassy toddler. We live in the City of Toronto, and like many people from this diverse city, we’re children of immigrants
[Simon] We launched Beeja May in 2019 as a side hustle. It stemmed from a conversation Christine and I had one day in 2018, when she was on maternity leave with our daughter. Christine had arranged to meet up with a Facebook Marketplace seller to purchase some secondhand clothes for our baby. She had spent over an hour that day getting our newborn ready to leave the house, driving to the other end of the city and then realizing that the seller did not leave the items out on the porch. She was stood up by the seller. She lamented how difficult it was to shop secondhand, especially as a new parents, and that’s when our brain juices started flowing. Christine and I wanted to create an easy and accessible way for caregivers to shop sustainably for their families. We couldn’t find this option for ourselves and knew we couldn’t be the only family looking for this.
[Christine] For over a year, Simon and I worked evenings and weekends on Beeja May. We were inspecting and uploading new items and fulfilling orders from our basement. Then in 2020, we decided that we needed to make the leap and quit our jobs to make Beeja May a reality. You can only imagine the terror of our Asian immigrant parents when we told that we were quitting our corporate jobs to sell baby toys and clothes online! We knew we couldn't create the mission-driven company we envisioned without fully committing. I was previously in commercial land development and Simon had a career in finance.
What does the name Beeja May mean? Where does it come from?
[Simon] Beeja is hindi and means “seeds”. It represents new life for the toys and clothes we receive, but also signified a new beginning for Christine and I as parents and business owners. May is the month our daughter was born.
What inspired you to create Beeja May?
[Christine] As a new mom, I was determined to make more conscious and sustainable decisions for our growing family. However, once our baby arrived, I found it intimidating to leave the house with her, let alone spend hours sifting through a thrift shop not knowing where the closest change table was. I quickly understood why many well-intentioned parents turned to fast-fashion retailers instead of buying pre-loved and second hand. That's when Simon and I made the decision to start a company that would make slow fashion as convenient and accessible as fast-fashion, and to make shopping secondhand easier for families.
What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on right now?
[Simon] We're working hard to build out our Rescues Collection. Our Rescue Collection is a collection of quality, brand new but sometimes imperfect pieces that need loving homes. We're building out many partnerships with mission-driven brands, including the one we are working on with PlanToys, to offer their items with imperfect boxes or open box items on our platform at discounts. We’re also hoping to change the average consumer’s perspective on “imperfect” pieces. Somewhere along the way, our society has become overly concerned with the condition of a toy box. In the eyes of many consumers, a dent or small hole in the packaging reduces the value of a quality toy or piece of clothing, disregarding with the quality materials, craftsmanship and labor required to create that item. These items are often left behind, despite still being in perfect condition. Without proper homes, many of these items often slip through the cracks and end up in landfills. Beeja May’s goal is to bridge this gap and find loving homes for these quality pieces.
Why is sustainability important to Beeja May?
[Simon] Sustainability is the reason Beeja May even exists today. We started Beeja May with the sole intention of building a business designed to offer families a more sustainable way to shop. Our goal is to crack the code of creating a profitable business that inevitably does good. More importantly though, we started Beeja May because we both want to tell our daughter that we dedicated ourselves to creating a world that was more sustainable for her and her friends.
What is your favorite sustainability swap?
[Christine] Besides shopping secondhand, I love all the non-trendy, inexpensive and “low-hanging fruit” type of swaps. My favorite swap is a boring one – reusable bags instead of plastic ones. I always keep a reusable bag in my purse, car and beside my front door.
What was the 1 moment you felt the most proud of your business?
[Christine] Actually, I feel most proud of Beeja May every time I make a purchase for my own family. Each time I receive a Beeja May order and realize that not only am I saving money, but also participating in a circular economy and contributing to a mission that is greater than the items themselves, I feel grateful and fulfilled. I’m proud of the amazing service and value our company brings to families.
Where can our community find and connect with Beeja May?
[Simon] We hang out on Instagram a lot! Of course, you can check out our website. If you're ready to give your old products a new life, you can learn more about our program by visiting the information page on the PlanToys website.
How can our community of families and retailers support the circular economy that Beeja May is helping to create?
[Christine] Make a conscious effort to choose used first!
Beeja May is part of PlanToys mission to close the product lifecycle loop keeping toys out of landfills. Learn more out PlanToys Circularity efforts with PlayCycle here.