We love how important sustainability is to your brand! Why does this matter to you and how does this ethos factor into the products you design?
I became very conscious of sustainability when I lived and worked in a rural part of Namibia, Southern Africa for six years before coming to the states. I originally went as a volunteer to work with local craft groups to help them design and produce crafts to sell to the burgeoning tourism industry. In this very dry area of the world, I saw firsthand the devastating effects that deforestation and climate change were having on the people and the environment.
When I launched So Handmade, this was one of the most important building blocks for how I wanted the business to grow.
I am very conscious of the environment when I am designing my products—in the materials I use (I try to use organic wherever I can), but also in how I design and screenprint my products. I position the pieces for printing in a way that minimizes fabric waste, and I save all my scraps and partner with other makers to use these scraps for cushion filling and even dog collars.
Far too many toys are made from unrecycled plastic using wasteful and harmful manufacturing practices. I feel that choosing to purchase toys made from eco-friendly materials that last is a step towards living a more sustainable lifestyle.
So many of your products are made to be portable! What are the benefits of having toys specifically for play on-the-go?
As I mentioned, my son always wanted to bring his cars everywhere we went. He also would never sit still, which would make eating out or traveling a complete nightmare! I couldn’t find many toys that catered to busy kids like him, and that were specifically made for portability. My playmats can help busy kids focus and engage with something while in a small space, or while out and about. I believe my products benefit the children who play with them as well as the parents who can relax while their children play happily.
Having toys specifically for play-on-the-go offers kids ways to use their imaginations and creativity away from screens, which helps them notice the world around them and engage in open-ended play. Screens can be very lonely and isolating, but by having a playmat the family can join in and create stories and memories together.