Remember the interview I did last year with Jeff Freeland Nelson, founder of Play from Scratch? Re-read it here. This man had the brains to start a company and make toys that are raw materials. It’s like he knows what kids want and need–to use their minds, and our materials like cardboard, yucky-free colored tape, and boxes and tubes and more! And he’s offering a giveaway of a free downloaded game (unlimited downloads!) to my readers–see the very wery bottom.
I love that Jeff & his wife Alisa are both entrepreneurs and live here in the great Twin Cities with their two little ones. They are a wonderful couple and check out Alisa’s writing at Blooma’s Blog if you aren’t already a subscriber, and her website, or take a yoga class from her, or hire her as your doula. This woman’s got talent.
Here’s a little interview with Jeff about his newest projects and products.
Play from Scratch is your brain child, a wonderful child-development toy company we had the privilege of interviewing and talking to last year as you were beginning. Now you’re totally launched, and have multiple new products, and are available all over. Tell me about what’s happened in the last year, and how and where my readers can get your great products.
It’s been quite an adventure. Our mission is to be the toy company 100% focused on inspiring create kids. We launched just before Thanksgiving last year — 8 hours before Thanksgiving, to be exact — and had a great December selling our raw materials kits (the World Famous Box of Boxes, the Enormous Tube of Tubes and the rest). But we realized 2013 had to be about getting into retail stores.
Our raw materials kits were too big for stores, so in February I went back to the drawing board and invented YOXO (“yock-so”). YOXO is a sustainable building set which Daily Candy just called “an eco-friendly alternative to LEGO.” Wow.
Our goal was to be in five stores in the Twin Cities by the end of the year. Now we’re in 30 across the country and adding new stores every week. A full list of our fantastic retail partners is at https://playfromscratch.com/stores/
This Instant Superhero download is just plain awesome. Tell about how you came up with this, and what inspires you to think outside the box, almost like you’re a kid yourself!
That’s about the best compliment I’ve ever received! Instant Superhero was inspired by my 5 1/2 year old son, who two years ago was going to preschool dressed as a superhero – every day. He dressed up as “Captain of Safety” (the “of” was important) which involved a fireman’s coat, a cape, bike helmet and rubber fireman boots – even on the hottest days. I didn’t get it.
So I spent a day with him at preschool to figure it out. What I discovered was that the costume made this shy kid feel confident and brave. Captain of Safety helped him navigate the scary transition from home to preschool. Afterwards, I decided to create a game that gave every kid the experience of inventing their own superhero.
Anything special in store for holiday shoppers?
We do have a few surprises up our sleeve, including a new game we hope to launch right in the middle of December (why not?) But our big goal this year is to support our retail partners. They’ve taken a risk bringing a completely new, unproven and somewhat strange product into their stores. So please go out and buy some YOXO from them!
If you could counsel parents on toys for their children this holiday season, aside from your own great products, as an expert in child-centric developmental play, what would you advise they look for–err–ask Santa to look for?
New research indicates that the simpler the toy, the more complex the play. Dana Friedman of the Early Years Institute advises this: “You want to find toys where children have options for what they do with it. If it’s a toy that can only be used in one way, don’t get it.” Everything at Play from Scratch is built around this idea. In fact, I don’t think we have a clue what to do with our toys. It’s only when I watch kids playing with them that I realize what is possible.