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Welcome!

 

Welcome to our new home. NaturalKids Team now has a NEW all in one website with blog. Here you will find great information about our team and our teammates. Our blog has taken on a new family friendly feel full of great information to help you live your best life, follow along as we grow in this next year! So grab a cup of tea and pull up a comfy chair and join us everyday right here!

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Organizing your Thread

When running a small business it’s very important to keep all your supplies organized. There is nothing worse than getting a big order and not being able to make it because you lost track of a key ingredient. I used to have a lot of trouble keeping track of the colors of thread that I own. Back then, I kept my spools of thread and bobbins separated: spools on racks and bobbins in boxes. But one day I visited a local seamstress/alteration shop in the town where I live.

What? You may think, why does a person who knows how to sew go to a seamstress? Well, my husband bought this new suit for his job. It was more on the expensive side and needed to have the sleeves and pants altered. Not in a million years did I want to touch that! I have heard many a story of failed marriages because a wife messed up her husband’s good suit (trying to clean it or fix it up). Just imagine the nightmare of having to tell him that his new dresscoat might fit Junior pretty soon because you took off an inch too many…

So, that’s how I ended up at Mary’s Alteration shop. When I stepped into the basement of the house where good old Mary has her workshop, I was stunned looking at the walls. They were covered with racks and racks of thread. Each color was matched neatly to a bobbin of the same color sitting underneath the spool. There they hung out together row after row, organized by color, standing at attention like little soldiers – ready for service.

The next day I ran out and bought some spool-racks. Since then, I have been adding more and more colors…It gets a little pricey when you have to buy so many Bernina bobbins, but I think my collection is almost complete at about 100 colors. I only wish I had more wall-space.

Hope this post inspires you to get your supplies organized!

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Big Business – Toys4Sale

The other day I went for a walk with the children. While walking we met this young enterprising fellow. He looked at us with his big green eyes and said proudly:” I have Toys for sale!” It made me smile. After all we both are in the same business…

He was selling a white craken to a child haggling over the price. He had made a total of $2.95 so far. But then his little sister started crying because she wanted to keep the butterfly her brother just sold to another kid.

                                                           kids…

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Interview with Driaa

This week we take a close up look at Driaa in our talk with owner and creator Dria.

Tell us about you!
Hi! My name is Dria. I am a mother of three girls. I live with my husband in a small vegetarian village in the hills of the Galilee, in Israel, where I grew up. My parents and siblings live here too, with their children. I come from a family of crafty people, and we have a small shop together – a whole wheat bakery and vegetarian café (my mother and one of my brothers are bakers) with a small handcrafts Gallery. I sell my dolls and my other brother sells his wooden toys. My father grows the vegetable garden for the bakery and Café and my sister makes sure everything is working properly. My third brother is a stone restoration expert with the Antiquities Authority.

Tell us about your business!
I am a doll maker (I consider plush animals to be dolls, too). I sew all kinds of dolls, trying out new techniques and drafting new patterns all the time. Some of my dolls are Waldorf style dolls, but I also make other types. I sew other things as well, like bags and hats and also knit and crochet.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I have been creating since I was a child, crocheting clothes for my dolls since I was six years old. I have been making dolls professionally for seven years.

Where do you find inspiration?
I have three main sources of inspiration:
Nature – recently have been making dolls inspired by beautiful wild flowers. (I haven’t managed to find time to make them all yet, so some of them are still only ideas in my head..)
Fabric – sometimes a piece of fabric will spark a whole new idea for a doll.
Children – many of my designs were first made for a specific child, mostly my nieces and nephews.

Oh, custom orders are a great source of inspiration, too!

What got you started in your craft?
One day, after many years of not creating at all and only studying (life sciences and history of science, if you must know), I found a teddy bear making book in the bargain area of a bookstore. Seeing a new creature come to life from my sewing was thrilling! (Of course I changed the pattern even on my first teddy and gave him my own interpretation.) That was just before my first nephews and nieces were born, and when they appeared into my life I started knitting and sewing for them.

What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?
My favorite thing right now is my new design for a Bee and a Flower that can be opened and closed. I’m very proud of it!

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I’ve been on Etsy almost a year and a half. It’s been great! But I still have a long way to go before my Etsy shop is what I want it to be.

What advice do you have for other Etsy artisans?
Find a good team!

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?
I joined this team because I think this team has some of the best artisans and crafters on Etsy! I think that as a group we mark the stamp of quality, earth conscious and imaginative toys and items for kids. So I hope to contribute my efforts to the group and together we can get much further.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Children that receive mass produced toys these days don’t expect them to last very long. They know from experience that most of their toys will end up in the trash – some of them on the same day they get them. Besides the pollution created by the short lives of these toys, I think it’s sad that children have such low expectations from their belongings. Carefully crafted natural toys that are made lovingly by an artisan can be something that chaperons a child into adulthood. I still have toys that were mine as a child, and they have a deep meaning for me – as a body that holds a piece of my childhood.

Find Driaa at:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/driaa
www.driapeterson.com

Bakery:
www.bait77.com/?page_id=476


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Interview with Tickety Bu

This week we take a close up look at Tickety Bu™ with our talk with owner and fabric artist Kristi. 

Tell us a bit about you.
Hi! I’m Kristi. I am a former marketing executive, become stay at home mom, become fiber artist and photography hobbiest. I live in New York with my husband Michael and our three kids, Lorelai, Magnus and Xander. We love living here as it gives us a chance to visit so much history and this area is so beautiful.

Tell us about Tickety Bu.
I started Tickety Bu based on my prefold design. Specifically made for my heavy wetting son, they are made in the traditional way, a 2x4x2 layer prefold from highly absorbent bamboo cotton blend. Shortly after I opened, my daughter asked me to make her a blanket. She had never taken to a lovey or a comfort object, so her interest in a blanket was surprising, but exciting. She was my first Cuddle Blanket customer and after her first one, she promptly ordered two more! The Cuddle Blanket quickly became the cornerstone of my line and was the spring board for the entire Bu blanket collection.

Tickety Bu products are always designed with the experience with the product in mind. It’s the perfect marriage of high function with extreme comfort.

People have asked me, why Tickety Bu? Tickety Bu, also spelled Tickety Boo and Tiggerty Boo, is a phrase that means, “everything’s alright”. There is argument whether it originated in England, Scotland or India and may have come from a Hindi expression “tickee babu” which means “all alright”. It seemed to fit why I love bamboo and why I started the company and honestly, I like the sound of it. It harkens back to a simpler life, just the way things should be.

Tickety Bu is the natural extension of what my life is about right now. Getting back to basics, embracing the simpler, finer things in life and doing what I enjoy.

 

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
Simply said, I make comfort. Luxurious blankets of all sizes, incredibly soft and absorbent hooded towels, diapers and wipes, all created to comfort you and your little ones.

I’ve been creating since I can remember. I’ve always been creating something. Whether it be art, design (I am a design school grad), advertising, or fabrics, I’ve always been creating. I guess it’s in my blood.

What got you started in your craft?
My desire to have something better. I was not happy with the cloth diapers on the market. My son was the heaviest wetter I’d ever seen and nothing held him, but I was in love with prefolds. So, I made my own, the way I wanted them out of the fabrics I wanted to use. It’s the same with all my products, they are all born out of need for something better, something softer and something prettier. But really I guess I got started in my craft in college when I dyed fabric for the first time. My work as a dyer is where my heart is, the products I make are my canvas.

What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?
It’s so hard to pick! And, it changes regularly, although it’s always a colorway. I did make a Cuddle Blanket once with my daughter. She picked all the colors herself, she applied the dye, she helped me sew the blanket. It was a labor of love that the both of us thoroughly enjoyed. I am amazed at her enthusiasm for creating things and how she looks at the world. That blanket will always have a special place in my heart.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
Since middle of last year. Etsy has been a lot of fun so far. I love the community and the support that Etsy provides.

What advice do you have for other Etsy artisans?
The advice I would have for any artisan, Etsy or other, is to do something unique. Carve out your own niche, your own path, your own take on the world and your work. It will help differentiate you from the crowd and create a brand that can stand for something. And of course, do what you love. Because if you do what you love then you’ll love what you do.

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?
Being new to Etsy it’s great to have support from those who have been here longer and know the ins and outs. I’m not new to business though and having an extensive background in marketing and design, I’m sure I can contribute to the strength of the Natrual Kids brand.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
For me it’s not just about natural toys for creative play, it’s about surrounding ourselves and our family with anything and everything we can that is natural. Just as natural foods make for a healthier body, natural toys make for a healthier and happier child. Natural toys inspire the most creative play and creative play is the key to expanding our child’s minds.

Find Tickety Bu and Kristi at:
ticketybu.com
facebook.com/TicketyBu
ticketybu.blogspot.com

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Interview with Little Lily

This week we take a close up look at Little Lilly with our talk with owner and artist Jade. 

Tell us a bit about you.
My name is Jade and I live in Northern BC, Canada. I’m 27 years old and have been married to Daniel for 7.5 years. On January 15th of this year, I gave birth to our fourth beautiful daughter, Danica. Our other three are Addison (5.5), Tegan (4), and Myka (18months). I can honestly say that being a mom is my favorite thing in the whole world. Every day I am in awe that God has blessed me with such an amazing family! I recently had a friend joke that when she reads my Facebook status’, she pictures me in a bonnet and apron. I assume it’s because they are all about baking, sewing, gardening, and collecting eggs from my chickens. Unfortunately, I don’t own a bonnet; although I did just buy a really cool apron from etsy! That’s another thing I enjoy…shopping on etsy. There’s so many amazing products out there from really talented people!

Tell us about Little Lily.
I started Little Lily in May of 2009. A friend told me one day how hard it was for her to find good quality baby washcloths. I was planning on making some cloth wipes to use on the baby I was expecting at the time anyway, so when she said that, it was like a light bulb went off in my head! I knew I wanted, soft, good quality, thick wipes, and knew from research that bamboo fabric had these qualities. I ordered a yard and went to work. When I sent her some, she tried them and said, “you should start an etsy business with these!”

Our second daughter’s name is Tegan Lily, and I have called her Little Lily since the day she was born. So when it came time to name the business, it was a no-brainer 🙂

A few weeks into selling the wipes, people were asking if I made other things. I experimented with a few products, but found that I didn’t have time to make tons of different products, so I have kept my favorite three as regular items; bamboo baby wipes, hooded bamboo baby (and toddler) towels, and swaddling blankets! I also make bamboo baby wraps as special orders.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make organic bamboo baby wipes, hooded towels and swaddling blankets. Occasionally I add a new product as a feature, but for my regular stock, I like to keep it simple 🙂 I started sewing them a year and a half ago, when I was pregnant with our third daughter.

Where do you find inspiration?
My girls 🙂 And I look at fabric online more than is probably a “healthy amount” 🙂

What got you started in your craft?
I was talking to a friend one day and she mentioned how she was frustrated with her baby washcloths because they wore out so quickly, and were flimsy and rough. I had heard about how soft bamboo was, so I did some research, ordered a yard of it, and the rest is history!

What’s your favorite thing you have ever made?
The hooded towels. I actually made a hooded towel “poncho” once, and I use it all the time for my toddler when we go swimming. I’ve thought about adding them to my regular line…maybe soon!

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I’ve been on etsy for almost a year and a half…about a month after I started making the products! I LOVE etsy and can’t say enough good things about it. I enjoy pretty much everything about etsy and having my own business!

What advice do you have for other Etsy artisans?
Think about products and businesses you love; think about their appearance, products, customer service, etc. Now implement your favorite qualities into your business. Treat each customer like royalty, and set up your shop to look professional as if it was a million dollar a year, professional company. On that note, branding should be a huge priority. I bought my panda avatar from istockphoto.com for $20, and it is the best investment I’ve made into my business. It’s on my sew on labels, business cards, and pretty much everything I do on the internet! I’m even going to get a vinyl window decal made for my van using my panda!

What do you hope to gain or contribute to the Natural Kids group?
I love building new relationships, especially with people who share the same interests as me. I am hoping to gain ideas to improve my shop/business, and to encourage others to do the same 🙂

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
I believe that things such as electronic toys, TVs, and video games are completely changing the way kids develop, and not necessarily in a good way. I think it’s very very important for kids to play with simple toys, made of safe, natural materials to develop their creativity. I don’t think it’s healthy for kids to learn to rely on being stimulated by outside sources all the time. Learning to “center” themselves and be able to come up with their own ideas, etc is crucial.

Find Little Lily and Jade at:
www.facebook.com/littlelilybamboo
www.littlelilybamboo.etsy.com
www.littlelilybamboo.com
www.jadesteckly.blogspot.com

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Join The Handmade Pledge

As the sound of mass produced toys and children item recalls ring in our ears like carols. It is sad to know that it has become part of our holiday “tradition”. Handmade natural toys and items like those sold buy the NaturalKids Team members give a greater value in it’s safety and generational quality.

This year make a difference in the world and buy handmade. Buying handmade and buying locally directly supports the crafter as well as strengthening the economy. We the NaturalKids Team would like to your support   American Craft Week.

So we are asking  you to join with us and make the pledge to buy handmade and local, and join the business members of the Handmade Toy Alliance.
Pledge Here: http://www.handmadetoyalliance.org/Community/HandmadePledge.aspx

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Artist Studio Feature – German Dolls

German Dolls “Studio” Tour, a member of the Etsy, Natural Kids Team
My “studio” space is located in the entryway to our house. The word studio sounds too grand really. My little happy sewing space is barely 7×10 feet. Part of that space is taken up by a large old radiator.
The location of my creative space is a good and a bad thing. The good part is, that it forces me to keep things more orderly, since this is the room people look at first when they come to our house. The bad thing, of course, is that I must always put things away and can’t leave a big mess. But you’d be amazed to see what one can do with such a small space!

For the longest time I played with the idea of building a table over the radiator. I don’t know why, but it appears, that the family gets tired of my things spilling over into the dining room/family work table. I don’t understand why finding tape stuck to a book or page of homework is such a big deal…Do you?
Luckily last year my husband’s crafty woodworker uncle came and helped me ameliorate that stressful situation. I am so thankful I could realize my idea of having a side table. Together we built a new table off to the left side from my sewing table/desk. This space that was once wasted since I could not put any shelving or a table there, now serves as shipping and, cutting table. I also use it for taking photos of my dolls and doll clothes.
In one corner of the table I keep an antique Pepsi crate which I found at a flea market. The crate holds note cards, business cards, tape, and lots of small odds and ends that I need all the time…Note the gnome sitting behind the roll of tape in my tape dispenser. He is the guardian of my tape to remind the children that they have their own tape…What used to be wasted space has become a wonderful work space!

The dear uncle also built me a handy dandy storage shelf for some of my materials and shipping supplies. It is located above the side table and held in place by the window frames and some extra supports through L-brackets.
Unfortunately, there is not enough room for all of my fabric. The fabric I use for doll clothes is spread all over the house in various bins and dresser drawers. Sometimes it can take me a while to remember where I put a particular piece of cloth I am looking for…I wish I could keep everything in one room. But then again it’s good exercise walking up and down the stairs to get your materials together…

Be sure to visit Ulla’s shop, German Dolls.
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Friday Feature with Rumpos

Tell us little about yourself!
My name is Mary Ann Hudson. I have been married for over 10 years to a nerd with horn-rimmed glasses and have a funny red-haired little boy named Gus. I have an MFA in poetry and am in school to be a pediatric nurse practitioner. I live for when the mail comes and for stolen time where I can read for pleasure.

What do you make and how long have you been creating?

I make playscapes from a variety of natural materials–wool, linen, cotton, and vintage. The construction is similar to quilts–except with 3D elements. I also make quilts, bags, and housewares (for a “grown-ups” shop auntierumpos.etsy.com), and lots of the stuff we need at home (clothes , housewares, and utility items). We’re the original “make do and mend” family and are highly resistant to buying anything new when we can thrift or make it. I also make poetry, which is necessary to life. I’ve been writing since I could, and I’ve been sewing for a few years (but have always had my hands in some kind of making).

What inspires you?
Nature, and how people and, especially, kids use things.

What got you started working with playscapes?
A friend’s magical daughter got me into playscape making. This little girl has the biggest imagination and sense of narrative play than anyone I’ve ever met (including some famous writers). She and her beautiful family are very inspiring, and my first playscape was created for her and in honor of her ideas for it. I think all the best things start with wanted to do something rad for someone you love.

How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I became a buyer in early summer 2007, looking for a handmade amber teething necklace for my son, and made my first sale shortly after I opened in February of 2009–so I’m not even a year-old business yet. As a buyer, etsy is the most accessible way possible to get my hands on handmade for gifts and living I can think of–it’s that accessibility that has added a real stone to the foundation of this wonderful handmade movement we’re all a part of. We all part of a long human history of making and the commerce of it, but after mega-industry took over the commercial world and somehow convinced us to adapt disposable lifestyles, making became relegated to county craft fairs and something your great aunt did instead of something you thought to do first before you ran to the closest big box store. Etsy creates ordinary accessibility to both extraordinary and everyday things. Fine art and reusable paper towels are all in the same place for anyone with an internet connection. It’s something big that allows an individual to stay small enough to run an ethical, thoughtful, and sustainable business. I opened on etsy, in part, so I could participate in what it’s trying to do. I’ve met some truly remarkable people, been able to grow a satisfying micro-business, stay busy and creative, and have the kind of freedom to be exactly the kind of business I could never be in a brick and mortar, or even in a stand-alone web business. I can barter and trade, change up my inventory at will, price fairly, and source my materials with other micro-businesses.

What advice would you have for other Etsians?

Be patient with organic business growth. I started with a single, well-thought out listing because I didn’t have any other stock to photograph. When it sold, I had two sets of photographs and so another listing–and so on. Word of mouth (or word of blog) really does work, and often much better, than paid advertising, so treat every customer like they have the ability to communicate with 1,000 other eager buyers. Do only what you love, and would love to do for those who you love. Pay attention to what your people want–I realized, after creating a set of ready-to-ship stock that was slow selling (and so now, very much on sale in the shop), that what my customers really liked about what I offered was that it was so custom and could be created for them at a personal level.
That said, I did open a sister shop of housewares and bags that is all ready stock–but I did it to have fun and from a place and theme very dear to me. That experience is starting slow too, but it doesn’t matter because the process has been so rewarding for me. I know that I have kindred spirits out there and they will find my shop in time. It really does have to be fun or you’ll start thinking like a cigar-smoking, suit-y, business stiff. I don’t think they have fun when they raze farmland, cripple local businesses, and build big box stores.

What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
Some of the most loving and creative mentors I’ve ever had are business people in this co-op. I learn something everyday from the forums; I have changed inefficient business practices based on personal communications with partners in the co-op; I have
improved my skills and products based on inspiration I have received looking at partners’ products and trading and buying from partners; and I have, overall, become more professional and focused due to my membership in this group. I think it’s important that like-minded people with similar values in the world of commerce support and network with each other–it’s a kind of personal-level strength. I am always ahead of the curve in terms of practical considerations like labeling, sourcing, and documenting. My membership is utterly invaluable. More, the imaginative, kid-friendly, mama-positive vibe is perfect energy for creating.

What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
Putting on my pediatrics hat, remember that when *you* think that a toy must be boring because it is gently colored with “only” the colors that come from nature, that children see a wider and much brighter spectrum of colors than adults. When you’re confused by a toy that doesn’t seem to *do* anything and doesn’t have a place to stick a battery in, understand that children’s sensory system is indescribably more sensitive than your own and that the grain of sanded bees-wax rubbed wood, and fuzz of felted trees, and the enigmatic face of a simple doll is incomprehensibly stimulating to the hands and face and mind of a child, who, after all, hasn’t been here so long and never expected to have to encounter and process hard, stinky plastic that makes loud noises with crazy light shows for no conceivable reason.

We don’t give children the credit and respect they deserve–their narrative understanding is deeply rich when given the barest of tools (a knitted donkey, a wooden boat), and has a greater reign when unconfined by pre-designed, corporate characters and specific uses for play. Natural toys have both breadth and depth–a well-made doll that feels good and warm in the hands is a companion, a co-pilot, a character to work out personal dramas, and a pillow. Honestly, kids don’t really *need* toys when they have daily access to loving people and the outdoors, but toys can be an important tool as they play their way through the lessons that they need to grow. The best tools, we know, are well-made and no more complicated than needed for the job at hand. Toys are not magic, children are magic. Toys are not the source for entertainment and learning, we are, people are. The best toys celebrate the normal, everyday magic of children and are easy tools for play between people. And you know, kids are totally impressed by handmade, love to see and touch things they know someone has made themselves, and are encouraged to make things, too.

Your items can be found where:
kids: rumpos.etsy.com
“grown-ups” : auntierumpos.etsy.com

Interview by Beccijo of The Enchanted Cupboard