My name is Tiffany Nixon. I am originally from Chicago and moved 8 years ago to the Phoenix area. I have four boys (ages 5 to 12) and have been married for 13 years. We school at home so that we can have active busy lives otherwise. I have coached soccer for the last 4 years,and am passionate about health, nutrition, and exercise. I have lost 56 pounds and counting by focusing on an active lifestyle and raw vegan foods.
What do you make and how long have you been creating?
I make play foods from natural materials and some custom knit and crochet woolies for cloth diapering. I have been crocheting and knitting since I was about 5 (almost 30 years ago).
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the colors of nature and by the delicious and nutritious foods around me as well as a passion to see more natural materials and fewer toxic toys in our homes.
What got you started working with yarn?
My friend and I loved playing with yarn during our summer breaks from grade school. We had huge plans for a five-story-high store which would sell our crocheted goodies. At the time all we could make were chains and long uneven scarves. Of course, we didn’t anticipate the internet or any of those possibilities.
How long have you been on Etsy and how has it been for you so far?
I have been on Etsy since July 2006 and have been very pleased. I started out a couple years before that on hyenacart.com and sold my first 1000 or so orders there. Etsy had a learning curve for me but I have been very pleased with the broad customer base and return customers there.
What advice would you have for other Etsians?
I love the teams on Etsy. Find one that really fits with who you are and what you sell and try to really be involved. The support from the teams is really helpful when starting out and when you need new ideas or advice. The general etsy forums gave me great ideas at first but i soon became wrapped up in the busy-ness of it all and had less time to work my business and to craft. I do think social networking is worth it but I do better with a full store and happy customers.
What do you hope to learn/gain/contribute from being part of the Natural Kids group?
The longer I spend with Natural Kids the more excited I am to be part of the team. I love being able to recommend other vendors with positive feedback and great business ethics to my friends and customers. The networking possibilities as a team far outweigh the individual and the support the vendors give to each other is really valuable to me.
What thoughts do you have for parents on the importance of natural toys for creative play?
I remember reading once that some new parents were overwhelmed when promotions for products or even breastfeeding focused on giving your baby “the best.” The experts say that parents who know they can’t afford the top of the line car seat or stroller; who know they have to return to work at 6 weeks postpartum; who can’t buy 100% organic will just go for what they can do and not be as excited about “the best.” The thing is, with natural toys, there are so many great options out there and the alternatives aren’t just a little less than the best, they are toxic. It is worth investing in a few beautiful toys made with natural materials that will last for many many years. I have wooden toys that I bought 12 years ago and play foods that have gone through several children. Playsilks and organic t-shirts have become part of the costumes and the sets for movies my children have written and filmed. Natural toys tend to grow with our children since they are more open-ended. I love buying toys that allow for imaginative play.
Thank you Tiffany!
This interview was by Kat, of kats in the belfry.
Two weeks ago I began this blog topic. It is such a powerful idea to me, that children should be allowed to play without parental direction or instruction, that I decided to do the article in two parts. I am focusing on only one of the ways parents can step back and let their children do what they do best and naturally: play. That is, to provide them with toys they can figure out, which are open-ended, meaning the child can use her or his own imagination to complete the toy. It is difficult for some parents to understand this concept and choose a natural toy when they are bombarded by advertising from so many big “name” brands. In the first part of “Instructions Not Included,” I gave several examples from my fellow artisans from Etsy’s Naturalkids Team. I’d like to invite new readers to start with my last post. In this current post, I will continue to offer suggestions in this area with additional links.
Here’s something to consider:I read somewhere that invention is not necessarily creating something new with a purpose, but giving a new purpose and way of using to an existing item. Take the item pictured above from Fairiesnest. Yes it is a wand…or is it? If so, is it for a wizard, a fairy a princess? The answers to these questions will be completed by the child. What new way of using this timeless toy will be invented, what enchanting scenarios may be created? And since it is not licensed or branded by a multinational corporate identity, the possibilities are truly endless.
“Waldorf dolls, such as those made by Bellawinter,
Woodcreations’….convey little expression. Like the “Mona Lisa,” they are enigmatic and allow the child to decide their emotional state.
In imaginary play, this aspect of allowing the child to complete the toy by deciding if the baby is sleepy or awake, sad or exuberant, not only exercises the child’s imagination, but may also be therapeutic, allowing the child to work through emotional struggles. When Eva was 2, she slipped off the step in our pool. One second later, I lifted her out. This upset her nonetheless. The next day, she had her baby in the bathtub and was teaching it to swim. Clearly she was working out her feelings about water. Mommy’s only job was to wring the toy out later and allow it to dry!
Here is a gnome by Oritdotan. Who is he? Where did he come from? Is that a shell really a cauldron with stew? This playset does not offer any solutions to these riddle. Instead, it offers endless possibilities for the child to imagine.
Beneaththerowantree‘s gnome is quite different…almost a beehive…is he friendly or shy, abiding or mischievous? The child can decide what adventures to send him on, what his future in their present will be.
And who are the gnome’s or the doll’s friends?
Perhaps a needle felted bird, by Thesingingbird…
…or some tiny hedgehogs…by Purplemoonfibers.
How about a snail from Woodmouse?
…or Freedomrainbow’s custom order cat…
Is it a really a cat or a woolly forest creature or someone from another universe. this is for the child to decide.
The conversations and adventures these creatures could have with each other are endless, because they come free of history, branding or any other known fact.
There are so many examples I could give from my colleagues on Etsy.com’s Naturalkids Team. But I hope these few examples will give readers a taste of the endless play their children could delight in with toys made from natural materials as they project their fantasies onto them. Like Cozycottage’s strawberries, the sweetness is there, ready to be enjoyed by all the senses, and it begins with the imagination.
In my next blog, we’ll explore another aspect of the playroom. Til then, be well.
By Rebecca Varon-Remstein