Our “The Spotlight” series features founders and brands that inspire us. Whether it’s empowering kids, inspiring parents, or making sustainable solutions part of everyday life, we’ve spoken to people who embody the values at the heart of GRASP. Our hope is that these founder’s stories, the products they’re making, and their ambition to make a difference in the world also inspires you.
We spoke to Sheela Berry about Toy Box Club, an award-winning monthly subscription for kids that delivers hand-picked, age appropriate toys to your door. We wrote here
about hiring toys as a great way to remove the cycle of plastic from our household waste and that's been a major motivator for the Toy Box Club founders on their journey.
GRASP: Tell us more about where the idea for Toy Box Club came from and what you did to first bring that idea to life?
Sheela: Jessica and I first had the idea for Toy Box Club when we found ourselves trapped in a cycle of constantly tidying up after small children. The toys we had in the house were almost always broken, incomplete and without the right batteries and when we tried to throw them away it became clear that most of them couldn’t be recycled. At that stage we realised the only sustainable approach to the problem would be to re-use them constantly and as toys are only age-appropriate for a couple of months anyway, it made perfect sense!
GRASP: What do you think is the biggest challenge for parents in trying to find the right toys for their kids to play with?
Sheela: I think the challenge is finding sustainable brands that give value in terms of money spent and also hold proper entertainment value. Sometimes the most beautiful wooden toy just won’t hold the child’s attention. Our boxes are full of toys that have been tested on real children.
GRASP: What are your top tips for keeping kids engaged in play? How have you brought them to life in what you deliver for your toy box subscriptions?
Sheela: Probably the best tip is to make sure your children have the right toys for their developmental stage, have a variety of the type of toy and keep the toys available for play to a small amount. Studies show that the fewer toys a child has, the more they get out of them. Our monthly boxes have around 8 items and we’ve found that is a good amount.
GRASP: What's been the most inspiring part of raising kids while running a business for kids? What are the moments where you think you're doing well and how do you hold onto those when it's hard?
Sheela: It is always hard finding a good balance when you want to be a present, involved parent and run a successful business. Luckily all three business partners are in the same position so we all understand the pressures. We certainly don’t get it right all the time but it definitely gets easier as the children get older and more self-reliant. I know my children are proud of their mum’s business and what we’re trying to do.
GRASP: Toy Box Club has a clear sustainability mission. Other than signing up for a toy subscription (which we would recommend!), what are some of the other things you'd recommend for families to do that would help them live more sustainably.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that we don’t need to own everything that we use in everyday life and particularly for children that literally grow out of them in a couple of months. We recommend using clothing rental services like MyWardrobeHQ
(particularly wonderful for special occasions/skiing clothes) and The Little Loop
(for everyday). Give them a go and we think you’ll be surprised by how easy it is to do and fantastic value for money. Plus you set your children a good example and can feel happy about your choices.
GRASP: Lastly, at GRASP we're about inspiring kids to be confident. What are your top toy or game picks that you think parents can use to help inspire kids' confidence?
At Toy Box Club we love giving children access to loads of different toys – over the course of a year our members will have around 100 toys to play with. They will range from imaginative role-play, dressing up, puzzles, stacking, construction, pull-alongs, pop-ups, the list could go on and on.
We think that giving your child access to good quality toys curated for your child’s particular age, that will mentally and physically stimulate them, is the best way to encourage your child’s confidence. If we absolutely had to choose one type of toy in particular it would probably be a beautiful puzzle by Djeco, Hape, Le Toy Van or Orchard Toys.