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Featured Shop: Manzanita Kids

Nov 21, 2012

by manzanitakids handmade and vintage goods

Hello! We are Adrienne and David Minnery. We design and make wood toys for our shop, Manzanita Kids, from our home in Seattle, Washington.

Manzanita Kids grew organically with our kids. With the birth of our first child, our family “sun” shifted. MK was our solution to satisfy our own creative needs in harmony with the family life we wanted to live. Now I’m able to stay at home while Adrienne teaches at a local public school. One of our main goals is to have the shop support us entirely to allow both of us to be home as much as possible. Being able to design and craft a product that is your own is incredibly gratifying. We both love MK and put everything we can into our business.

Both Adrienne and I love to draw, and the sensation of feeling satin smooth wood. We love seeing freshly sanded walnut soak up our wax and turn a deep rich brown, and we love the rush of creating a new toy. We both have fond and vivid memories of playing with open-ended toys and household items that wouldn’t even normally be considered toys. We aim high and endeavor to create toys that we can be proud of and which offer the same hours of creative play as the toys we all remember.

Our creative process involves talking a lot about toys and even more about design. And we play with toys – a lot! Adrienne usually starts with an idea on paper, and then I take it to the shop to refine it. It goes back and forth until we know the toy will be a good addition to our shop. We won’t introduce a toy if we don’t feel it’s the best we can do.

Ownership of our designs and the care we take in crafting our toys are of paramount importance to both of us.  Consumers can buy an inexpensive mass produced toy at any big box store, so I think families come to our shop for something special. We both take our craft to heart, from the drafting table to the workshop to answering convos. We are offering an experience and it’s reflected in all our actions, not just our final product.

As designers and makers, we are true to ourselves. The moment when you see something and exclaim “Of course! This should have always existed” – that is the best way I can describe what we are aiming for. Innovation will not come if you are chasing someone else’s vision or comparing yourself to others.

We believe good design is brave design, and feel confident in our vision as artists, makers, educators and parents to be able to play with our designs until we get them right. We sometimes joke that our living room is a home for misfit toys, because we bring all our design prototypes inside for our kids to explore while we figure out what to tweak.

Etsy has meant everything to us in developing Manzanita Kids – it has allowed us the platform to grow our ideas and find a road to success. We believe that Etsy is working to create a new economy: one in which buyers and sellers interact on a personal basis. We are all buyers. We are all makers. Etsy has transformed the world into an organized local farmers’ market for all types of items, and we feel proud to be a part of it.

Toys are platforms to allow kids to be creative, play and learn. Unique toys, beautiful toys, creative toys, well-made toys, durable toys, fun toys – these are the platforms that sustain play and nurture a child’s growth. Everything that leaves our shop is something that we would feel great about our own children having.

All photographs by Manzanita Kids.

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