We, that is Miriam, Schirin and Lilly; along with Lotte and Coco, are the family owned business of AMouseWithAHouse – an online Toy store in Australia.
A few months after Lilly was born and started to explore the world, did we realise that we are surrounded by plastic. Plastic in the household, plastic in the office, plastic in toys. Plastic everywhere.
Presents were wrapped in air bubble plastic (although it is still fun to pop each air bubble) and off course that is the first she reached for. Some toys were not only made from plastic, but they also smelled like a chemical lab. What is not from plastic is the dogs drinking bowl, the cat, the bin and much more. However, we are not keen on her trying to chew on those things either.
But there are a lot of great products out there. With Lilly, we have become experts in finding eco-friendly and chemical free toys (and food, cleaning articles, cloths…). We have become passionate and focused about this new task and decided to turn it into a business. We decided to open up an online store for toys based in Australia – AMouseWithAHouse.
As Europe still leads the way in toys, including wooden toy safety (European Standard – EN71), almost all our toys are from German and European toy companies sourced from their Australian distributors or from Germany directly. We have spent endless nights (when the small one was asleep next to us) going through catalogues, searching the internet, having Skype meetings trying to make sure we pick the toys that our customers will like.
We went back in our memories as to which kind of toys we loved to play with. What were the toys we were looking forward to playing with most when we woke up in the morning. We also asked our friends, people we worked for, customers at the nearby café… what kind of wooden toy they loved and therefore they passed on to their children/grandchildren. We heard many lovely stories, but also heart-breaking stories. We had no idea how emotional childhood memories can be.
The other question we asked ourselves is how we want to set up our online toy store. Not having been the “typical girl” ourselves we wanted to ensure that our store is not set up with toys for either girls or boys. We try to be gender neutral which is hard given the fact that already the packaging of kids toys is often directed to either girls or boys. The girls can usually be found on the toy kitchen and the boys on the toy cars. Not how we would have done it. For us, all toys are for girls OR for boys. They are for both. Or for parents. Who knows.
We are not yet there. Two more questions we asked ourselves. One was; do we sell solely wooden toys or also other materials. For one, there is something unavoidable. Often wooden toys do contain plastic. As an example, the wooden lorry we sell has plastic tires. Not ideal but understandable. We wouldn’t be worrying about our bicycle having plastic tyres, so we felt that some exceptions are ok. Other than that, there are cool ride on cars out there made from metal sheets. Cardboard houses are a great hideaway for the kids. As these are great materials that we are happy to support we also have toys from these materials.
The next question came more or less when we started ordering in the first batch of wooden toys. The truck arrived at our storage, the 15 cardboard boxes were unloaded, and we had the joy of unpacking the toys. Once we had unpacked the 15 boxes we found ourselves surrounded by cardboard and by plastic bubble wrap. We were stunned and wondered what to do with all this rubbish. The cardboard we brought to the local recycle station. But what about the plastic bubble wrap. What to do with such huge amounts of them. We wondered if we could give it away for free but felt that no one would come to pick it up as it was tons of little pieces. So, with a bad feeling we filled up our yellow recycling bin. When the next delivery arrived the same dilemma. The delivery after this one left us again with a filled yellow bin. At this stage I raised the question if we could use it for the packaging of the wooden toys we send out to our first customers. We were hesitant thinking that customers might find that we don’t hold our promise. However, at some stage we realised we are actually not holding our promise if we throw all the wrap away. Instead we started keeping it and using it to safely wrap the toys we send out. We also started recycling cardboard boxes.
We hope we have given you an impression about the history of our online toy store.
Now let’s introduce us individually:
Miriam usually works in the medical field, but she loves everything to do with design and screenplays. As a kid, did she spent days building her own raft from materials she found in the household and she was always out and about creating a fun space to play with.
Schirin is a master cabinet maker and is also a design junky. She has extensive experience in designing, building and installing furniture. Her book shelf is full of architectural and furniture magazines.
Lilly is our inspiration. So far all she does is enjoy life and explore the world.
Lotte makes sure we don’t get too caught up in our work as she does demand her daily walks to the beach, or at least to the nearby park.
Coco’s role is difficult to define. He always makes sure to attract attention by finding the perfect spot. He is also very interested in Lilly’s surrounding as he tends to sleep in her cot (which she doesn’t use anyhow as she sleeps with us), on her changing table or on her blanket. What is hers, seems to be his!
Finally, please enjoy a browse through our toys. If you are after something specific and you can’t find it on our website there is a good chance that we can source it for you. Therefore, please don’t hesitate to contact us with the details of the toy you are after.
ABN 52 435 728893