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 wooden toys, Waldorf toys, arts and crafts, organic baby products, and natural products for the home. We work with companies like Ostheimer, Grimms, Sarah's Silks, Engelberger, Ruskovilla woollens, and many others. Our goal is to carry products that are high quality, sustainable, timeless in their charm, and that are lots of fun!
SouleMama: Tell us about the beginnings of your business.
Lisa: The shop was born out of a vision that living more sustainably in a North American context need not be such a sacrifice -whether we be homesteaders or urban dwellers (or some combination thereof). We like to offer people a selection of toys and home goods so delightful and aesthetically appealing, that they first see these qualities, and the sustainability, biodegradability, and health & safety aspects are all just givens.
SouleMama: Tell us what you envision and dream for the future of your business.
like to offer more of a curated selection of sustainable housewares and
educational materials and crafts, so that there are more choices for
consumers, with clear standards for eco-friendliness. Nowadays, not
only do we have outright un-sustainable goods, but we have more complex
scenarios to consider, where the clear choice is not always apparent,
and when multiplied several hundred thousand times, the impact is
considerable. Eg., Is fast-growing bamboo okay as a clothing fibre, or
is it just rayon bamboo that uses more harmful chemicals during the
fabric processing? Is a product made from recycled plastic and wood
pulp composite itself recyclable over the long-term? Do benefits of low
energy use and CO2 in manufacturing outweigh long-term costs of
non-biodegradability for some products? In what contexts can plastics
be seen as the more sustainable option as they are lightening the load
on the Earth's mining resources? We find ourselves asking these sorts
of questions daily, as it relates to our household and on a larger
scale, to our business. Sometimes we go without something, as we wait
to come by a suitable sustainable version. We're so busy, and it can
take time to find these items, and the 'easy' answer can be to just
cave, especially when it comes to things for the kids. But we talk
about sustainability a lot together, and we have our store's mission
statement to keep us on course.
I often research based on what different science journals are saying, or I'll email back and forth with university professors or manufacturers.(Eg. are wood-plastic composites recyclable?). On the internet or even in social circles, a catchy idea can be put out there, and then it gets repeated so many times, that it becomes embedded in our public psyche, but there might not have been a sound footing for it from the start. We want to go after best practice. Even if a material is itself sustainable, is the industry set up such that it's not promoting clear-cutting in a rainforest somewhere to harvest it? Is the energy used in raw materials sourcing and manufacturing justified based on the lifetime of the product? This kind of research takes a lot of time and scrutiny, follow-up and cross-referencing. But it's not futile. Sometimes we find some great solutions. Sometimes they're readily available. When we can't find them, we discuss and we detail our plans for approaching woodworkers or crafter-artisans or small companies to consider making them. Currently, we have a good portfolio-wishlist for sourcing our own local production for furniture, crafts and toys. We'd like to see some of these come to fruition in the next few years.
The transportation of goods is something we consider. It's not that much greater distance from Germany to us in northeastern North America, than it is from L.A. or Vancouver, but it's trucking or air from other parts of North America, while it's ocean freight or air from Europe. Train and ship are much more environmentally-friendly than long-distance trucking. Therefore, a shipment from Germany by ship to a nearby port reaches us with much lower carbon emissions than a shipment trucked from California. We also know that many of our European suppliers have very impressive manufacturing, with combined heat and power, where they capture some of the 'waste heat' from electricity generation to use for their space or hot water heating needs, or rainwater collection for water use in textile manufacturing.
Our vision for our shop sees us sticking closely to our original mission statement to source responsibly and to offer people more selection for beautiful and practical sustainable goods.
Lisa: We currently have a very rambunctious, gregarious, sweet
as hell two year old boy, and a very smiley, wide-eyed two month old
girl. A typical day of work sees me nursing a lot, lol. We don't talk
business while we're in our son's bedroom, and we don't talk business
during meals. After the kids goto sleep in the evening, we work
dedicated for several hours. I often wake up super early and do the
European phone calls, if need be. More than we'd wish for of what we
spend our time on involves IT and technical glitches. We spend our time
with accounting, purchasing, and inventory management. A lot of time
goes towards special orders for customers with special requests, and
those we are really happy to receive and fulfill, when we can. We don't
bring our kids into the warehouse and work on the computer with them
playing on the floor nearby, or anything like this. When we work, we
work, and when we're with our children, we're with our children. That's
not even fully our choice so much as it is out of the fact that our son
is very active, and so we like his waking hours to be outdoors as much
as possible. So, during the day, it's usually one of us with them, and
the other one working, except then both of us work together during their
shared afternoon nap, or after they go down for the night, or early in
the morning before they wake up.
A typical day is warmed greatly by our customers, and our communication with them. My husband and I talk about where orders are shipping to, and we get excited when people order our personal favourite things. We should actually keep one of those big pin boards on our wall with maps, and put pins for all the cities and countries we've shipped to. Or use google maps :) p.s. We really like google products. Our typical day is largely aided by the use of google calendar, which we both share and edit together. It really helps our communication with each other, and picking up threads.
SouleMama: What advice do you have to a new artist/crafter/maker looking to make a business out of their passion?
Lisa: Etsy is a great place to sandbox test your wares' appeal and showcase your creations. Get some great pictures, and then don't be afraid to approach retailers if you'd like to go the wholesale route. You won't make as much money as if you sold the full retail price yourself directly to customers, but if it is more serious employment via your craft that you would like, it will save you a lot of time in individual customer communication, shipping, etc., and then the bulk orders to retailers could be appealing for you. If you would like to make a serious salary from it, then that kind of time savings is huge. Make sure that if you're going to wholesale, it's something that you can do your own 'batch producing' for, i.e. that it's 'scalable' for you to make large quantities of, and you see a good return on your time and materials for this. Don't be afraid to ask the retailers themselves if they can help with raw materials sourcing at discount wholesale pricing, if your cost of materials are high.
For today's giveaway, Nest European Toys + Home is generously offering the following gift to THREE winners:
~ $100 Gift Certificate!. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
To enter today's giveaway, please leave a comment (one entry per person, please) in today's post. I'll close comments by 8am EST on Monday, and announce the winners, chosen via Random Number Generator, shortly after. Comments closed! The winners are:
Have been a fan of nest for awhile. Keep up the good work!
Posted by: Brad
I say this every time - I would love to add some natural toys to my preschool classroom! Thanks again for featuring Nest!
Posted by: Amanda
I have purchased many things from Nest over the years - they are all so
special and beautiful - I try not to buy a lot of things for my
daughter, but when I do, I always buy quality. Even the most loved Nest
purchases still look new!
Posted by: Megan Harper
Thank you, Nest European Toys + Home!