It is no secret that I love Etsy for just about everything under the sun. I buy toys, housewares, clothing, patterns, craft supplies, and decor. I love the fact that I can find mom made, hand crafted items there and supporting other moms is a wonderful thing. Last year, if you recall, I discovered The Enchanted Cupboard. The wooden fairy dolls in the picture above came from that Etsy store. My daughter adores that store and everything in it. Whenever she has a special event coming up, like a birthday, she wants to visit The Enchanted Cupboard to look around.
The owner of that store Beccijo, recently joined a group of mom and dad artisans to form the NaturalKids store. It is heaven on earth for a mom who wants natural, magical toys for their kids. I asked the folks there to chat a bit about their store and what they are trying to accomplish with it. Enjoy!
NatureMom: The Toys in the Natural Kids Store seem to be throwbacks to a simpler more natural time of the human existence. Do you agree? Do you try to instill “old school” values and a way of life in your kids and family life and if so why?
Tonya – Knitting Momma – Yes, the toys may seem like throwbacks but it is more than that – children truly do not need fancy, noisy, excessive toys either in quantity or expense. Children respond in a more natural way to toys made of natural fibers. There is a connection to nature. In addition, many of the toys are beautiful yet simple and require children to use their imaginations which stimulates creativity.
Since we use natural fibers in creating our toys, they are environmentally sustainable. If for some reason the toys are no longer loved, they are compostable. We do not use plastics and papers for packaging which also makes handcrafted toys good for the environment. Our family has chosen to live more simply than the average American, I guess. We do not have television, are very careful about how often we participate in consuming new products, and we spend lots of time together working and learning.
Donni of Fairyfolk – I am hoping that we are on the cusp of a new era, a collective movement away from the frantic, shiny, plastic longing for more, bigger, better. My family and I have opted to take a step sideways, toward a simpler, calmer, more handmade life. It takes longer to bake a loaf of bread, but there is so much joy in the baking that is missed if we had not taken the time. The flour on my son’s nose, the smile on my daughter’s face as she bites into the warm, buttery slice she has just helped me bake. We have come to realize that the reward is in the human love that has gone into something handmade, a love that is tangible and magical and infuses our souls.
Joshua at Dad’s Wooden Toys (photo credit for picture above)
Yes in times gone by, these toys were the norm
You could say in a way we try not to conform
When my wife and I went searching to find
toys that were natural and good for the mind
The toys every where made noise and light
but I think the kids not the toys should be bright
I like that these toys say “life is what you make it”
not “whatever you find in the box, you must take it”
I enjoy the assurance that these toys won’t conflict
with the values my family and I want to depict
when buying the latest of a cartoon craze
a parent is tied to the values they praise
if that character lies or sasses its dad
then I promote that to my little lad
The toys in our store don’t come from a script
you can rest easy no values are shipped
Our toys come to you, a perfect blank slate
the lessons to learn are yours to create
NatureMom: Why types of natural materials are used in your craft and why is that so important?
Cyn at Fairies Nest – Natural fibers like silk, cotton, and wool are not only better for our environment because they are renewable resources, but they are also lovely to look at and wonderful to touch! Who wouldn’t chose
these over hard plastic or nasty polyester? Wool stuffed toys also
have the amazing property of feeling more alive. Wool holds warmth, so
as a child plays with a wool stuffed doll it warms to body temperature
and feels alive increasing the child’s bond to the toy. So much better
then cold plastic! (Image below by Fairies Nest)
Wendy at Birchleaf Designs– We use mostly wood, silk, and felted wool in our toys because it just feels good. It feels good to touch and to play with them. These materials came from the earth and to the earth they shall return. We try to stay away from plastic and other nasties that are not good for our bodies or the Earth.
Jen, SewnNatural– We use all natural materials, mostly organic and upcycled cottons, wools and silks. Our toys are mostly stuffed with natural carded sheep’s wool, which warms quickly in a child’s hands and gives a “living” feeling. We choose to use organic cottons wherever we can, because conventional cotton is far less “natural” than we might think. The average cotton T-shirt is only 73% cotton fiber – the rest is chemicals and resins. Now imagine a big baby blanket! If 10,000 people choose an organic baby blanket instead of a nonorganic one, we would keep the weight of over 22 people in pesticides out of nature. So using organic and eco friendly is better for the earth, better for kids’ bodies and better for nourishing their imaginations. (Image below by Sewn Natural)
NatureMom: How do these toys compare in terms of fun and creative use to mainstream toys?
Sara, Woolies – Spark Imagination – the child brings the toy to life. The faces on my animals and dolls are simply embroidered, so the child can decide if her toy is happy or sad.
Joshua at Dad’s Wooden Toys
New toys it seems have one use intended
Very few are made to be open ended
I want my kids to actively play
so I avoid toys they would just watch most the day
When you give kids a toy that’s hand made
it changes slightly how it gets played.
The toy is a toy but also a reminder
their mind is the actual toy and fun finder
the toy teaches kids that the things they may need
aren’t always bought on a treadmill of greed
instead one must give their thinker a chance
to find the solution for their circumstance
Beccijo – The Enchanted Cupboard– I don’t feel like you can compare these toys to mainstream toys. With open ended natural toys you are opening the child to their own imagination. Often times people look for and buy a toy that will “do something”. The wonderful thing about handmade open ended toys is that the toy just “is” and the child does the “do something”. Play time is early education and without basic creative play children lose the fondation to all good education.
“You can’t depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.”
– Mark Twain
NatureMom: What is it that you want to accomplish with your store?
Wendy – Birchleaf Designs – We wish to teach the children. Teach them to find happiness within their selves first. To slow down and let their imaginations run wild, to experience life and nature now, to understand that each and every moment counts and to savor every moment. Teach them to be here now. Every smile that comes from playing with natural toys makes our heartstrings sing! We love making inspiring, imaginative, natural toys and treasures that will last and when they are done, they can return to the Earth.
Wanda Hirsch – Maple Shade Kids – I want to offer parents and children a product that they can feel good about purchasing. A product that is lovingly made with natural materials, will elicit great joy all while being safe for the child and kind to our earth.
NatureMom:What other sorts of things do NaturalKids Etsy artisans make, in addition to toys and creative playthings?
Jen, SewnNatural– The NaturalKids store is not only full of beautifully crafted natural toys, but also natural and organic clothing, nap mats, nappies and diapers, mobiles and home decor, picnic blankets, organic and upcycled vintage quilts and blankets… and more new products all the time. With so much of the apparel, toys, and bedding for children (even ones made with organic materials) produced with sweatshop labour, our artisans infuse each handcrafted piece with a positive, ethical impact. Fair trade, all natural and inspired by nature.
Image credit: Fairyfolk