Before toys entertained children the best toy of all was their imaginations. With all the toys on the market that whizz and beep I think it is more important then ever that we offer our kids creative toys that can transform into just about anything. One of my favorite open ended toys are playsilks, we have a small basket filled that Ila has been playing with since before she turned two. Her silks have been oceans, mountains, volcanoes, super hero capes, picnic blankets, forts, doll slings…the list is endless. I have known about Sarah’s Silks for years and even bought one as a gift for Ila locally so I was thrilled to invite her to share the story of her business that has been supporting her family and making children happy for over 15 years! This is a perfect example of how one family is creating a handmade heritage for their own children and others around the world.
Sarah has also offered a very generous giveaway of TWO $100 gift certificates to two lucky winners, thank you!
Hi Sarah, thank you for visiting us and sharing your business story! Can you please tell us a bit about you & Sarah’s Silks?
17 years ago I was a mom at home with three little ones and I needed a way to make money to stay home with them. I saw the children at our local waldorf school playing with cloth in the kindergarten and had the idea to dye some for my own kids. Then my neighbor wanted some, and a friend and I thought, wow, maybe I could sell these. No one was telling them at the time I found out from a few phone calls to natural toy stores, teachers would just dye their own as needed. So I decided to try to dye up some silk squares to sell.
Magic cabin was then owned by a friend, Sara McDonald and she bought some silks from me. Also, we sold some to a local toy store Hearth song. Soon after we found the Ark in San Francisco and they were eager to buy them. Then came the idea to dye rainbows as they are so popular in kindergartens, and fit with the rainbow bridge stories the children hear on their birthdays. It became a bit of a tradition to give rainbow birthday capes out at the 6th birthday celebration!
Soon, my husband Mike joined in helping me, and our little home business has been supporting our family now for about 15 years. My job around here is to design new products, keep the web site going, find new shops who would like to carry our products. And many other various jobs.
Mike is an important part of our business for many reasons. He is excellent with computers and helped us get set up with an invoicing system on QuickBooks. he is also good with his hands and makes many of our products, like the streamers, cotton rainbow, dyed stuffed animals and more. He is also Chinese and interested in agriculture so it is a good fit for him. He loves to grow our own mulberry trees and raises silk worms on his desk! Just for fun as we have no way to effectively spin and weave cloth from them yet.
Mike has also been to China many times. We work with a small group of women in a village near Sujou China. These same women have been sewing our scarves in their homes for 15 years. We pay them higher than the going rate and they get to be home to watch over their grandkids. Mike has also traced the silk making process from the famers growing the Mulberry trees and raising the silk worms, to the spinning, weaving and dyeing of the cloth. He speaks some mandarin and loves to visit.
Silk has been cultivated in China for over 8,00 years. The trees that are grown to feed leaves to the hungry silk worms are so important for China, as is the cultivation of bamboo. Mike is pleased about all of the trees as he says there is so much pollution in China one rarely sees the sun! Mulberry trees help!
I am a big fan of your silks and don’t allow plastic toys in my house-I believe children should have to put their creativity to work at play time. Why do you feel it is important for children to spend time playing imaginatively with natural toys?
Of course most children are fascinated with realistic toys, toys with buttons that beep! But only for a little while. There is little to be learned or gained by playing with them. The true work of the child is to become engrossed in play, to put as much of their own inventiveness into what they do, it is creative, enriching, joyful. In a way it is what we as adults try to find, a “getting into the zone”, loosing ourselves with abandon to work we love. Plato wrote about it, as did Einstein. Encouraging the imagination is more important and more satisfying than anything.
One thing I am super proud of is that Life Is Good Foundation is using our playsilks in their playmakers work around the world. Their motto is “Life can hurt, play can heal”. They have been in Haiti, Japan,and all over the US doing playmaker workshops to help children remember the joy and healing power of play. Watch this amazing little video to find out more about the power of play.
Our silks are sold all over the world. On our web site there is a link to shops, and we encourage our new retail web site for shoppers! You can also connect by reading our new blog called a Silk and Wood Childhood. Here is my blog post about my job and why I love it, you can also find posts about China, our family and much more.
Sarah is giving two $100 gift certificate for anything on their web site!
Entering is super easy:
1. Sign up to receive Sarah’s Silks e-mail newsletter (visit their website & scroll to the bottom of the page)
Be sure to let us know in the comments too: )
Sarah will choose one winner from each list and contact you directly~good luck!
This giveaway closes next Tuesday, August 16th at midnight EST with the winners announced on Wednesday the 17th. By entering this giveaway you are agreeing to the Oh My! Handmade giveaway policies.
This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to Renee Tobvin & Jessica W-winners were chosen by Sarah & will be contacted by email.