How is Sophie the Giraffe Made?

Sophie the giraffe, it is an institution. All babies love it and so do we. To the extent that we wanted to know everything about her until her small lower spot. Our investigation in the factory of Sophie has plunged us into the secrets of its manufacture. We show you?

Sophie, everyone knows her. You meet it when you were a kid and your toddler received it as a gift (thanks Grandma). Fifty-five years after its creation, it remains the star of babies around the world toy.

To reassure mothers whose infants spend most of their time to the mouth, we looked on the materials that compose it and the various stages of its manufacture. For this we went to the source: Vulli factory located in Rumilly, a few kilometres from Annecy (Haute-Savoie). A day in a business friendly family to discover the history of the most famous of giraffes, awareness process and the craftsmanship of employees serving the beautiful Sophie.

The Birth of Sophie the Giraffe

But first, back in 1961. At that time, baby toys represent most of the pets (or farm). Sensing the genius product that would allow the brand (initially Delacoste, which will then be acquired by Vulli) to differentiate themselves from the competition, a certain Mr Rampeau embarked on the creation of an exotic giraffe from rubber of the latex from the rubber tree (a tree that grows in Malaysia). It refines the design of this toy of a new kind, works inside the shape and size to perfectly meet the needs of babies. Thus was born Sophie the giraffe… marketed a 25 may, the day of the Saint Sophie (I can already hear you: “Aaaah, that’s why it’s called Sophie?”).

A Sophie For a Birth

At the dawn of the year 2017, the France averages 800 000 annual births, and Vulli… Sophie sold 800,000. In addition to the traditional and transgenerational this toy dimension, sort of Proust’s madeleine to which Grandma, mother and daughter remain attached, if Sophie continues, especially thanks to its many qualities. With its 18 centimeters of happiness, she is the only toy able to awaken the five senses of the child and the first to enter his small hands. Indeed, the contrast of its tasks is easily identifiable by a toddler (the view). His “squeaker” is a unique sound recognizable among all (hearing). Its natural rubber has a low and reassuring smell. “Indefinable” Sophie perfume approximates the vanilla and the pacifier of the bib’ also (smell). His soft peach skin is reminiscent of MOM. A pliers movement enough to baby to grab his neck or legs (the touch). Finally, the toddler may put long legs hard and soft texture at a time, into the mouth to relieve yourself gums (taste).

The Various Stages of Manufacture of Sophie

But before we get into the mouth baby, Sophie went through different stages and this is where our investigation begins. Vulli factory, in the middle of an industrial area, is immense. You can hear all kinds of noises: a “Brrr”, “Ssshhhh”, “Ffooouu” are impressive machines. Behind, dozens of employees focused on their jobs. In contrast, no smell of chemicals or other and it’s rather nice. The reason is simply that the raw material of Sophie is the 100% natural rubber. We also see barrels of latex, them have also come a long way: they come to Malaysia! The latex is picked up in the forests of rubber in several small vineyards producers, a cooperative work with Vulli. It is immediately mixed with water in order to be kept. The rubber of Sophie is the same one used in the medical, is chemically very neutral. “We get the latex fairly regularly, we never long stores large quantities, rubber remains a living matter. And according to the seasons, the heat, it will keep longer or shorter,”says Larry Milloz, head of communications at Vulli.

It’s in Rumilly this latex turned – famous success made in France! Since 1961, the process never changed, and giraffes 55 million have been sold since its creation. Level color and texture, latex similar to pancake batter. Small spots: it takes 80 grams of rubber to make a Sophie.

Approaching the mussels, we guess the front silhouettes and back of Sophie. These molds are plaster, material necessary for the absorption of water that contains up to then the natural rubber. You can see a small straw, which will create a small hole in the body of Sophie where his whistle (for the pouet) will be housed. After having waved for themselves again, natural rubber is poured directly into the mussels (10 giraffes by mold).

Once the mold is closed, the rotomouleuse direction. As its name suggests, this big machine with a kind of iron arm allows to turn the liquid rubber in a solid and elastic material with a rotation system. Each mold is two hours, until a solid Sophie. The plasters are reused until total wear (then resold to a local company for production and marketing of plaster. Because, Yes, Sophie is more green, objective: zero waste).

Once the complete carousel Tower, must wait a little for our favorite giraffe to dry completely. It then passes through a stage called “ripening”, placed in a conformer for a minimum of 45 days. 500 000 Sophie drafts are stored permanently in order to meet the large demand.

The Workshop From the Hands of Fairies

Changing room and it’s quieter. Apparently, the painstaking tasks remain the preserve of women. No need as to the previous steps carried out by men (mussels, it weighs) but concentration. The employees are installed behind each other on offices where are asked for ‘almost’ Sophie.

It begins by grinding: Sophie’s out of the rotomouleuse, all around her, a small surplus of rubber to crop. Disks of fabric, one against the other, heat and reduce the surplus of rubber powder. It takes forty seconds by giraffe, and for that, it takes a true helping hand!

Then placed the laying of the whistle, the longest stage. You know, the little straw on the plaster mold which left a hole on the body of Sophie… Well, it’s in this hole that we inserted the whistle. An employee with a brush, stick with natural rubber. A layer, two layers,… three layers that dry more or less long (Yes, Sophie is very dependent on the weather) and will completely cover the whistle has become invisible and therefore inaccessible.

The most famous of the giraffes is all white. She will come to life in the next step: painting. For its tasks, Sophie is placed behind a stencil to holes. As a painting: natural rubber mixed with natural pigments. First task (you follow?): Brown paint first for the body, feet and ears. Freehand and using a gun, the artist “spraying” Sophie from the front, then back. She changes of gun and takes Pink for cheeks and mouth. That’s our dolled up Sophie. It lacks more than his eyes: a little black asked gently with the brush and voila.

A right now, we realize that each hand made Sophie is unique: depending on the intensity given by the person, the tasks that are its originality are more or less dark. A small tattoo to complete: number of traceability on Sophie’s leg to ensure impeccable quality control. The next steps are the packaging and the control box. It will be shipped from Rumilly to more than 77 countries. Among the top 10: the United States, Great Britain, the Australia, the Canada, the Germany… Before ending up in the arms of baby.

Sophie 100% Safe

Sophie, the materials that compose it, latex, derivatives are frequent and regular testing breast of the factory. At Rumilly, two people are working full time to ensure the quality of the products our babies. “Chemists” budding trying all kinds of experiences to follow the evolution of natural rubber and always meet the standards of safety and quality. Nothing is too safe for our babies!

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Friends of Sophie the Giraffe

In order to cover all the needs of baby and thus offer a wide range of products, the brand Sophie the giraffe is working with other brands of different areas: clothing and accessories, edition, furniture, toys, care, baby… ” We are looking for partners with which collaboration has a sense, those who have a real strategy and respect the values and the commitment of the mark “, explains Stéphanie Arnaud, marketing manager at Vulli. A French production, natural products, common distribution channels… ” Similarly, we do not want that Sophie be exposed everywhere, to avoid fatigue and maintain its desirability.” Altogether, Sophie counts 38 graduates and 220 licenses worldwide references. Some examples: Home Toys Trousselier, childcare Babycalin, Renolux brands, cosmetics Sophie the giraffe Baby with a Finnish company that offers a range of certified natural and organic, DK Publishing, Shufunotomo, Marabout editions…