Today, we bring you a giveaway from SouleMama Sponsor, Nest European Toys + Home. In Lisa's words:
"We offer a large selection of European and North American made products for babies, children and adults, and for the home: wooden toys, arts and crafts, organic baby products, bed, bath, and kitchen wares, and solid wooden furniture. We carry Ostheimer, Grimms, Haba, Ruskovilla woollens, and many other lines. Our goal is to carry products that are high quality, great value (in every sense of the word), sustainably sourced and produced, and aesthetically pleasing.
SouleMama: What inspires you?
Lisa: This is a great question for us. We talked about it, and we're going to say: 1) our children, 2) our customers, & 3) ecological stewardship.
Our children inspire us in many ways =D, one of them familiar to all parents, I'm sure --> in the manner of necessity being the mother of invention/ inspiration. Our son is almost three and a half, and our daughter 18 months, and we scramble each day to keep up with their developing minds and active bodies. It's 'trial by toddler' to see that our products fit the lifestyles of active families with little spare time, or little desire to spend their time on the less important things. Therefore, we really pride ourselves to offer products that we can see firsthand can be 'useful tools' for families - things that engage kids, that they can connect with, that gives them quality time, that they'll choose to sit down and play with.
John-Paul: Our customers. It's really nice to connect with customers on the phone or in person. As an online store we don't have as much personal contact with our customers as we did when we were a brick and mortar store, so when we do have a conversation or get some positive feedback it definitely inspires, and we value knowing our customers a little, and how the items they order work out for them. It's really motivating when customers let us know how much they appreciate the products we carry, and particularly when those products aren't available in their communities. We have lovely customers. Lisa and I remark on this all the time. It's a real gift for us.
Lisa: Ecological stewardship is a pillar in our shop's founding mission statement.
John-Paul: Sustainability is a principal concern when choosing which products we carry. We feel inspired carrying products that are made from natural materials like wood, cotton, and wool.
SouleMama: What's the product that you are most excited about in your shop right now? Tell us about it.
Lisa: We always have new products coming, and old ones we discover or re-discover depending on ages and stages and seasons. In the next few weeks, it's a lot of bedding and rugs, and things to help stay cozy and keep our inner warmth glowing over the winter. New Swedish hanging lamps are arriving soon. 2 new styles in wood, and 2 copper lamps, both with beautiful glows. Starting around the first snowfall, we enjoy to hang our star in our front window. JP turns it on around dusk each day.
Most-used in our house lately:
Apple divider: My three year old asks us to use it almost each day for the last few weeks.
Marble runs (still tops the list). We are huge marble run fans now that we've experienced how delightful and absorbing they are for our son (and us). We have the 'large ball' sets for our 18 month old.
Our Petit Collage puzzles made with vegetable inks. I am always looking for puzzles that don't have strong off-gassing. These ones are sturdy pieces in the hand too, as are the new HABA beginner puzzles. It's a little early for my 18 month old, but we're playing match the baby with the mommy.
The playsilks (our son's first Christmas gift was a playsilk, and this is hands-down our favourite interactive activity with a baby to gently wave a playsilk in the air back and forth above them). But still for the ages both our kids are at now, it's just a magical moment of re-balancing and joy when we have the playsilks out.
This rubber ball set. We have a long hallway, and sometimes when there's too much energy and emotion too off-load at the end of the day still for our busy boy, and we can see that soothing and books just aren't going to cut it, we play catch, or monkey in the middle, or handball. These balls are nice and light for indoor (and sibling) play, but good size in the hand for kids.
This mini-container I love for taking little treats or pills or whatever little thing I need out in, but the kids have opened and closed it a thousand times. It's very satisfying to open and close. It has a silicone liner (no grating metal on metal), but it's not a smelly silicone, like some can be. So, I'm really happy with this line of stainless we carry as not too off-gassy like some out there.
We have a lot of new figures from Ostheimer en route. Ostheimer is one of our absolute favourite suppliers. The care that they take just shines out from all of the toys and wooden figures. Our son is really into imaginative play where we make the figures talk. Lately, a few of them get locked inside the prison during the course of play, and the knight comes to rescue.
We really personally enjoy the products we offer for sale, and we feel inspired to find items that we feel this way about. There are so many times we'll be playing with a particular toy with one of our children or watching them play, and John-Paul or I will remark to the other later about how good we feel about selling it in our shop. We know we're selling good products for good family living, and people don't have to worry about off-gassing or such things. We feel good about our business, we value our relationships with our suppliers, and we love walking into our warehouse, with all its sights and smells.
SouleMama: Is there a special place that inspires you?
John-Paul: We lived in Oldenburg, Germany before we married. It's a lovely, small city, with an attractive old town and a lively atmosphere. We loved going for walks in the old town, spending time at the Christmas markets, and visiting the bakeries, cafés, and, of course, the toy stores. We value the traditions of Germany and the high quality standards - whether it's a pint of beer, a loaf of bread, a well-built house, or a beautifully made wooden toy. We also respect their concern and practical regard for the environment, their creativity, and the fact that they still craft and manufacture so many things themselves, including many natural products.
SouleMama: In your mind, what is that one thing which makes your business different?
Lisa: More than 95% of what we carry is made in Europe or North America and is biodegradable - made entirely of wood, wool, organic cotton, or silk, or of base metals. We have some plastic for water and sand play (but also some good non-plastic options here too). We recognize that plastics can themselves be sustainable in some sense as they lighten the load on the Earth's mining resources, travel lightly, and can sometimes be quite durable, but we're happy to source and offer alternatives to stem the tide of plastics production and waste.
Also, we don't have a retail or marketing background or training; I mean, that is to say, we're not choosing products because we think they have a great pricepoint, will be really popular or a money-maker, but rather we are offering items for sale that are inspired by certain values we hold dear and that we have personally selected because we think they're great products. And we're pretty choosy. ;> Quality, sustainability, aesthetic appeal, and safety are all very important to us, and we source from manufacturers that have similar shared values and whose products meet those standards.
For today's giveaway, Nest European Toys + Home is generously offering the following gifts to THREE winners:
To enter today's giveaway, please leave a comment (one entry per person, please) in today's post. I'll close comments by 9:00 am EST on Sunday, and announce the winners, chosen via Random Number Generator, shortly after.
Thank you, Nest European Toys + Home!