Please welcome A Life Sustained sponsor Pinkhouse Handworks!
Janice draws on her Montessori background to fashion baby toys that follow the Montessori Birth to age three training, which she sells through several venues including her Etsy shop and the Michael Olaf Joyful Child Catalog. You can read more about her work on her website.
Tell me about how you started your business. Why Montessori toys?
A little over three years ago I left my Montessori classroom to be home with my new daughter. I have my AMI Montessori training for 3 to 6 year olds and had been in my classroom for ten years. The school where I worked, Austin Montessori School, is also the school I attended as a child.
While home with my daughter my husband and I began working on making toys for her based on the Montessori 0 to 3 training. Friends shared their training albums with me so I could learn all the specific measurements for each toy. We enjoyed making them and finding the parts to put different toys together. Once we had found a way to make several toys I showed them to friends and who then encouraged us to sell them as sets. In addition to the toys, I felt it was important to give information about when to offer each toy and its purpose. As a new mother myself I was, and still am, always appreciative of information and advice.
|Janice and her husband Stephen|
Next I had to find a venue for selling the toys. I had joined Etsy some months earlier and decided that was the best place to start. My friend Katherine O'Brien took beautiful photos of the toys for me, which is so important on Etsy because buyers cannot touch what they are buying. I posted the toys and spread the word through email. Right away I got some orders! It was so exciting! It still is! I continue to sell my toys through Etsy and have had the pleasure to ship them all over the world!
After I got my Etsy shop up I sent my toys to the Michael Olaf Montessori catalog folks. They loved them and we got everything in order to sell them in their upcoming catalog. We have sold many toys through their wonderful Joyful Child catalog and web site.
We also have our toys available locally in Austin, TX at GaGa.
I have never run a business before and I love it. It's so fun to carefully box up sets of toys and ship them off to other families. There is a wonderful feeling in knowing that what we have created has been a special part of another family's life. Through Etsy we receive wonderful feedback directly from the buyers and it brings us a lot of happiness.
What inspires you?
Everything inspires me. I love to knit, sew, crochet, spin yarn, garden, clean my house, play and cook. For the last 4 years my daughter has been my biggest inspiration. I want to make everything for her! As she gets older I am excited to get to do more making along side her.
Our world is so full of people creating art that there is no lack of inspiration if you want it. I actually get overwhelmed with so many things I want to make, especially sewing, knitting and cooking, that sometimes I don't know where to begin.
How do you incorporate the Montessori philosophy in your own home?
From the very beginning my husband and I have prepared our home for our daughter in the Montessori tradition. She had a floor bed instead of crib, Movement areas for her awake time, beautiful handmade mobiles, cloth diapers, early toileting, plenty of time outside, low shelves for a few selected toys and books, singing, stories, good homemade food, respect for movement and independence, also no T.V. or screens. We have continued to evolve our home to accommodate her development. It has been a wonderful challenge after years in the classroom to learn to implement the Montessori principles in our home. You can see some photos of our earliest prepared environment at Montessori in Motion.
Janice is generously giving to one A Life Sustained reader the complete set of five Montessori toys pictured above.
To enter the random drawing to win, just leave a comment on this post.
Get two additional entries! First, you can Follow A Life Sustained through Google Friend Connect and second, you add Pinkhouse Handworks to your favorites on Etsy.
Be sure to leave a comment for each "extra" so that they can be counted. Comments will be closed and a winner will be chosen in the evening of September 3.
The lucky winner is lil misses' mama!
"What a wonderful and unique shop! I loved reading her inspiring story! We are about to welcome our third baby (Wednesday!) and I would love to encourage this one to learn with these toys!"
Thank you Pinkhouse Handworks!