How it all began
Before I was a parent, I was a person: I liked film, art, spending money on beautiful things. Nothing unusual for a career-driven Londoner in her twenties. When I was pregnant, I made Pinterest boards for baby clothes, nursery inspiration and projects I’d do while the baby was napping (oh naivety, you were a joy).
Arlo arrived in September 2015, bringing with him an entourage of “new baby” everything. Our house soon looked like a January sale in a shop I’d never go into. Toys were my biggest bug-bear. Why did they all look so ugly and when would he even play with them? By this point, I’d missed my window of research opportunity and ended up buying them blindly in an attempt to entertain him long enough to put a wash on. But the more he had, the less he played.
I’d Whatsapp mum-mates asking what toys were good for that particular age and soon realised that everyone was in the same boat. There was no method. Mindless spending was an easy way to tell ourselves we’d tried.
Then one day, my little sleep thief napped long enough for me to wake up. This was a chance to teach my (admittedly too young to understand) son some pretty important lessons.
I lay out his toys and made three piles: keep for now, keep for later and give to charity. Professor Google then helped me make a list of all the toys he should have to complement his first year of development. There were 12.
Of these 12, there were two we didn’t have already but cutting down on the amount I was buying meant I could choose them really carefully. I discovered sustainable, ethical brands from independent sellers who cared about design, culture and helping our global community. Of course, I cared about that too but what I cared about had been put on the back-burner for a while.
I became an overnight toy obsessive, happily whiling away hours finding the perfect shape sorter, making sure its wood was responsibly sourced and its makers reasonably paid. When that group started messaging again, I knew exactly what to suggest and had links to share too.
It quickly became apparent that my new hobby could actually help people. They were on-board with my minimalist approach and glad to find brands that went against the sweatshop grain. So what if I could extend this beyond my circle?
ToyDrop was born soon after, bringing together some of the brightest baby brains and the greatest baby brands for a carefully curated toy shop that targets both needs and wants: the need for toys that encourage development at a time that feels right, and the want for beautiful toys that bring happiness to everyone they touch.
It may have started with my son but it’s about much more than him. It’s about making a real difference to the way we shop, the way we play and the way we teach our children what’s important. Hint: it’s not about having loads of stuff.