"Nest is an online webstore, with a curated selection of *Made in Europe & North America* housewares & furniture, children's toys & baby products, and arts & crafts, that are so practical, aesthetically appealing, and of enduring value, that people may delight in shopping from our selection of over 5000 products, knowing that environmental sustainability and safety are both just a given.
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SouleMama: What inspires you?
Lisa & John-Paul: 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.
Lisa: 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 three, and our daughter just over a year, 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. Like our marble runs. We are huge marble run fans now that we've experienced how delightful and absorbing they are for our son (and us), and we're planning to bring in two new fantastic brands before Christmas. Or things that adults can rely on, like in the case of our white rabbit and toadstool lamps, the sisters who designed them wanted a table lamp with a soft low light that they could nurse their children by in the evening. The toadstool lamp is magical, and we delight in it every night that we turn it on with our son, the way the light pours out from the little holes and the pattern it casts on the wall. 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). Our science kits - I majored in physics in university, and the Walter Kraul science kits that we carry from Germany are absolutely inspirational; they are about a hundred times better than any of the 'Follow Step 1-2-3' and discard a hunk-of-junk in-a-flashy-box science kits you'll find out there, as they offer dozens of different ways to explore and think about what you've built or what you're observing, with excellent booklets with probing questions, offering different levels of explanation or exploration, depending on the child. Our cube puzzles and wooden puzzles (lots of new puzzles from England and Germany coming in the next months inspired by our avid 3 year old puzzle-tester). Music boxes and piggy banks; we really like this line we carry from Switzerland, and the round music boxes in particular are really great, the way even a one year old can turn the crank. It's so dear for us to see our children sitting there playing them on their own, and the tunes so lovely. We have a lot of fun together with our boomerangs, and balloon baseball kits. All the glockenspiels we took days to test among all the offerings we could find in Germany, and how beautiful and clear the tones are. Our shaker boxes made in New Brunswick, and how dear it is for us to have the largest size as a memories box, one each for each of our children's precious baby items, and one for mementos and photos from our wedding. We just 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.
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: 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: What's the product or offering that you are most excited about in your shop/class right now? Tell us about it.
Lisa: Swings. ;) Rhythmic motion is so soothing for babies and toddlers, and for everyone else too. It could be horseback riding, or some kind of water sport, or dancing, or chanting or singing, or even colouring and painting, I find. And so nice to have swings around and in the house. We have a large selection now: the Original Tree Swings from Minneapolis, which are not so easy to find in Canada, and can be hung indoors or out; some stunningly beautiful swings made in BC, Canada; and a large selection of hammocks and swings for outdoors from Germany and Brazil. Also, loving our stainless steel ice pop mold. :)
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:
Posted by: Eva
Posted by: Tammy
Thank you, Nest European Toys + Home!