With a shared passion for creating, and childhood memories of days spent woodworking and sewing, husband and wife duo Erin and Wesley launched Peapod Play from a small workshop in Auckland. Their aim is to create natural Waldorf/Steiner-inspired toys to delight little ones and encourage free play. Wesley crafts hand-made wooden toys in his shed on weekends, and Erin makes sweet felted dolls and crowns in between looking after their tester-in-chief, Benji. They share a belief that all children should have access to simple, beautiful, affordable toys. Here, Erin talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the inspiration behind their business, how they balance work and family, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Both Wesley and I spent our childhoods creating; he learned woodworking with his grandfather, and I spent many happy hours sewing my own toys. Then we grew up, and the demands of adulthood made us almost forget the deep satisfaction that crafting brings. Over the past few years, we discussed what lifestyle changes we needed to make to increase our wellbeing and both of us identified the need to start creating again. Making toys was the natural overlap between what Wesley loves (woodworking), what I love (felting) and what we both feel passionate about: the value of free play in childhood.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Our first step was daydreaming: what kinds of beautiful things did we want to make? Once we had identified our aesthetic, we set about designing and making prototypes, checking where the limits of practicality were and learning about our tools and materials as we went along. In this way, we built up a portfolio of different toys, most of which are one-off designs. Next, we set up our online shop, listed our beloved creations, and… well, that’s where we’re at! We are still right at the beginning!
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Our biggest breakthrough was more of a mindset shift than anything else: it was the moment we transitioned from daydream to action – the moment it occurred to us that we could DO this.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
We have a young toddler, so this is always something we need to be conscious of. I do any administrative work while our son, Benji, naps; this works well. What we have found is that time spent creating actually tops up our ‘tanks’, and makes us feel better equipped to be engaged and responsive parents. When one of us is crafting, the other is parenting, so it’s important that we communicate clearly to ensure that each of our needs for down time and creative time is met. It won’t be too much longer before Benji is old enough to work on his own crafts while we work on ours: I have a cozy little fantasy of us all creating together as a family.