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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Pune Architects Script Success With Eco-Pleasant Instructional Toys

Toy Trunk, a Pune-based startup based by architects Priyanka Mangaonkar-Vaiude and Ajay Vaidya, is altering the best way we perceive toys for kids between the ages of 0 and eight.

Not solely are their handmade toys designed “following intensive analysis on motor and cognitive growth of youngsters”, however additionally they work with conventional artisans to make them with non-toxic and sustainable eco-friendly supplies like wooden and lac.

“The experiences youngsters have in early childhood form their mind and the capability to be taught, get together with others, and reply to day by day stresses and challenges. Toy Trunk has been constructed with a imaginative and prescient to unfold consciousness amongst dad and mom and guardians about how toys can contribute to the general growth of a kid,” says Priyanka, chatting with The Higher India.

“Additionally, to qualify the ‘handmade’ declare we make, some toys could require fundamental machine chopping by way of their base form. Nevertheless, fine-tuning, shaping the sides, colouring, detailing, assembling, and ending is all performed manually,” she provides.

Co-founders of Toy Trunk making eco-friendly toys
Co-founders Priyanka Mangaonkar-Vaiude and Ajay Vaidya

Discovering inspiration

Priyanka, a educated architect and inside designer who additionally specialises in craft and know-how, has greater than a decade of expertise within the increased echelons of Indian academia.

Again in early 2020, whereas writing a analysis paper with a fellow architect Minu Joshi for a convention at IIT Bombay, Priyanka took the instance of reviving conventional woodcraft practised within the Konkan area of Sawantwadi in Maharashtra — well-known for making toys.

“Totally different revival methods had been proposed on this paper, and each of us thought ‘as a substitute of simply discussing these, how can we implement them?’. And that’s how the thought of the Toy Trunk was initially born,” remembers Priyanka.

Nevertheless, inspiration additionally got here near house.

Within the midst of the primary wave of COVID-19, Priyanka’s son had turned three. She was discovering it very troublesome to maintain her son away from the display screen through the lockdown. It was very disturbing to see her son getting hooked on cell phones, tablets, and TVs, which may severely hamper his psychological in addition to bodily progress and studying means in the long term.

“I discovered a real lack of acceptable toys which may interact him. This pushed me to analysis youngster growth and strategies/instruments that enable for the holistic growth of a kid in a enjoyable and straightforward manner. I discovered that toys are the very best instruments one can supply to a toddler throughout their early phases of growth, as additionally they entertain,” remembers Priyanka.

Connecting the dots, she considered redesigning conventional toys made by these artisans as instruments that would assist the holistic growth of a kid. Furthermore, in the event that they had been made by these artisans, it may play some half in conserving the standard woodcraft, in locations like Sawantwadi, alive.

Ajay, an architect and concrete designer by commerce who specialises in human ergonomics, additionally observed how the arrival of on-line schooling through the pandemic had led to elevated display screen time for fogeys and kids, resulting in disengagement. In his residence advanced, Ajay additionally noticed that infants and toddlers had been now not happy even by being seated in entrance of a display screen.

“Youngsters must be engaged in numerous methods off-screen. When Priyanka and I joined arms with our frequent imaginative and prescient, we participated in ‘Toycathon 2021’ — a nationwide competitors organised by the Union Authorities in January 2021,” says Ajay.

Their entry made all of it the best way to the ultimate spherical, and barely three months later in April 2021, Toy Trunk was first established. They launched their web site in Might 2022.

Check out these eco-friendly toys
Eco-friendly toys by Toy Trunk (Left: Threading shapes; Proper: A baby enjoying with rope stilts)

Using analysis to make toys

Neuroscience analysis tells us that about 85% of an individual’s mind growth occurs by the age of eight. Throughout this era, the speed at which neurons are produced within the mind is excessive. These neuron connections are the results of learnings achieved by means of expertise. Subsequently, offering the appropriate instruments which is able to give the required experiences on the proper age throughout this era is essential.

Listed below are among the toys that Toy Trunk have that assist such growth within the early childhood interval.

1) “Youngsters be taught to manage their physique actions by the point they’re three years outdated. Youngsters between three and eight years are thought-about to be studying with buddies of the identical age. Throughout this time, their social abilities are creating, and therefore, offering such alternatives ensures the development of social abilities,” explains Priyanka.

“Our fake play kitchen set is without doubt one of the finest instruments the place youngsters be taught contemplating others’ views, language abilities, negotiations, and problem-solving talents, based mostly on the observations made by them day by day. Moreover, the thought behind creating a kitchen set was sparked when my son identified that the standard toy kitchen set he had lacked the tools that one makes use of in a kitchen day by day as we speak,” says Priyanka.

“This made us realise that her son’s present wood kitchen set wanted a variety of modification in its design and measurement in order that he can relate it with those that we use. Additionally, the data of ergonomics and human physique proportions which we discovered in structure assisted us in deriving the appropriate measurement and proportion of every utensil for that excellent grip,” She provides.

“Whereas designing the kitchen set, we made many iterations and examined them with household and buddies earlier than reaching the proper measurement. Relatively than utilizing lacquer color for its end, we determined to make use of darkish and light-weight color wooden to make it extra interesting,” says Priyanka. 

This kitchen set is part of Toy Trunk's eco-friendly toys collection
Toy Trunk’s wood kitchen set for kids is a part of their assortment of eco-friendly toys

2) Curiously, Priyanka sends her son to an ‘unconventional faculty’ the place the main focus is on experiential studying, not like standard colleges. “Right here they first deal with the event of muscle mass from the shoulder to the fingers earlier than taking over the duty of writing,” she notes.

“On this context, what we want is a instrument that permits youngsters motion of those muscle mass. For instance, threading exercise, which helps in creating the pincer grip, is a vital talent {that a} youngster wants earlier than he/she begins utilizing a pencil. Within the case of our threading form and lacing beads toy, the kid is made to make use of each arms to weave a form. This helps them to develop the proper hand and finger actions,” she provides.

“Our threading shapes toy develops bilateral motion in addition to hand-eye coordination. It additionally teaches them to establish elementary geometric shapes. This improves current threading toys out there that take a look at solely unilateral hand motion,” claims Ajay.

3) There are some conventional Indian wood toys accessible which can be additionally developmental instruments, however there’s a lack of information about their goal.

“A peacock wobbler is an instance of 1 such toy. This toy could be very useful in rising the stomach time of a two or three-month-old toddler. Typically, at this age, a toddler begins crying once you put them on their tummy as a result of their neck and shoulder muscle mass are usually not but totally developed. However extra tummy time helps in creating their neck and shoulder muscle mass which additional assist them to boost their head, roll over, sit up, crawl and stroll,” explains Priyanka.

“Having one thing which has a vibrant color and dynamic motion whereas on the stomach diverts their consideration from the ache and helps them to take pleasure in this time. We took the idea of the identical toy however improved it by modifying pointed shapes and including enticing colors, which made our toy extra fascinating to oldsters or potential dad and mom,” she provides.

4) “Within the first three to 4 months, a toddler learns principally by means of contact and listening to sense. Therefore offering totally different audio stimulation is essential on this interval. At Toy Trunk, we offer varied varieties of rattles to assist this growth. We now have redesigned the dumbbell rattle in such a manner that it’s going to not hurt the little fingers of the new child,” says Ajay.

These eco-friendly toys are being made by artisans
Conventional artisans at work making these eco-friendly toys

Sustainability first

Each Priyanka and Ajay strongly affirm that “each toy at Toy Trunk is made fully with sustainable supplies like wooden or cloth, thus conserving the kids at bay from plastic toxins and different chemically manufactured toys.” Even the colors used on the toys are constructed from lac with pure merchandise like turmeric used for pigmentation.

“The choice to make toys out of sustainable supplies like wooden and cloth is impressed by a number of components. In addition to the plain environmental causes, the artisans we work with have been historically utilizing these pure supplies for years collectively. Additionally, wood and cloth toys made with pure supplies are protected, in distinction to plastic toys, that are produced utilizing chemical compounds and ‘acceptable quantities’ of poisons within the manufacturing course of,” explains Priyanka.

“Wood toys have pure textures which stimulate the kid’s senses to ask them to the touch, really feel and discover the floor space. In the meantime, the fundamental shapes of the toys assist the event of your youngster’s hand-eye coordination,” claims Ajay.

Who’re these artisans?

“From our revealed analysis work with the Faculty of Design, IIT Bombay, which noticed us  finding out the Sawantwadi toy cluster, we learnt that conventional Indian toy clusters had been going through quite a lot of points. So, we determined to revamp and repurpose these toys and commenced working with them and the Channapatna toy craft cluster as effectively,” says Priyanka.

Channapatna, a spot close to Mysore, has a toy craft cluster of over 3,000 conventional artisans engaged within the manufacturing of lacquerware constructed from vegetable dyes.

“Conventional observe includes lacquering of regionally accessible ivory wooden (regionally referred to as hale wooden) for making toys, however as we speak additionally they work with different woods like neem wooden (regionally referred to as Gauda neem), beech wooden, and rubber wooden. The artisans don’t use any non-toxic colors or uncooked supplies, therefore making the toys protected for kids,” says Ajay. In 2005, these conventional wood Channapatna toys had been conferred with a GI tag.

One artisan that Priyanka and Ajay met once they visited Channapatna in September 2021 was grasp craftsman B Venkatesh of Sri Beereshwara Artwork and Craft. Since their first encounter, Venkatesh has accomplished six orders for Toy Trunk.

“We make handmade lacquer wood toys with regionally accessible woods — like hale wooden (ivory wooden), gauda neem, beechwood, and rubber wooden. Historically, we now have been making rattles, tops, kitchen units, trains, automobiles, spinners, yoyos, cup-and-balls, wobblers, dancing wood dolls, and many others. Presently, I’ve 30 artisans working with me,” says Venkatesh. 

“Sooner or later, we want to unfold and apply our leanings, and design developmental instruments in numerous toy craft clusters of India with respective supplies. We want to play a bigger constructive position in sustaining and enriching these crafts sooner or later,” notes Priyanka.

How are artisans making these items
Artisans working in direction of making these eco-friendly toys a actuality

Enterprise mannequin

“Toy Trunk at present makes use of the D2C (direct-to-consumer) enterprise mannequin by which we promote our merchandise on to customers. This consists of promoting toys on-line by means of our web site and aggregator marketplaces akin to Firstcry and The Nestery. We goal to be on extra standard e-commerce platforms like Amazon India, Flipkart, and Jiomart quickly,” says Ajay.

How do they work with artisans?

“We work with them on a per-order foundation. Once we want extra stock, we create a purchase order order with the grasp craftsman who employs these artisans. We observe this method since it’s straightforward to speak the design and handle the fabric required, the supply timeframe, and many others. The grasp craftsman pays the artisans in accordance with the order. We’re at present working with two grasp craftsmen,” notes Ajay.

To this point, the bootstrapped startup has launched 24 merchandise and is trying to turn into a model with a turnover of Rs 1.5 crore by the top of the yr.

“In addition to fulfilling customary enterprise targets, nonetheless, we’re at present taking a look at choices for incubation and funding. In the long term, we need to collaborate with extra artisans and enhance provide chain effectivity and in addition construct a sustainable and accountable enterprise,” says Priyanka.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat, Picture courtesy Toy Trunk)

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