This month is an exciting one my friends. This month is a celebration of how far toy making has come in Australia.
When I started Kids Gifts and Toys over 3 years ago and started researching toy brands worldwide, there was very little coming out of Australia that was designed and made in Australia. In just a short space of time I have watched an incredible transformation and now I can happily say there is actually a handmade toy industry in Australia! I am super excited to be featuring “Monday the Plane” from Have a Nice Day toys for March’s “Toy of the month”; this is one Australian toy company that is making waves for all the right reasons.
“Monday the Plane” is just one of 7 wooden toys created by former industrial designer Jake Diaz alongside his wife Dom Diaz who fronts up all the business and social media side of things. This husband and wife team based on the Gold Coast, are reinventing wooden toys and bringing back the simplicity and purity for a new generation of children.
I was very fortunate to meet Jake in Sydney last month and was utterly blown away by his passion and enthusiasm for wooden toys, design and where his brand is headed. He talked me through the story of Have a Nice Day, where it all began and where it is headed. I can predict it is totally going places!!
He kindly gifted us a Monday the Plane to review for March’s toy review and as you can see from the photos we have busied ourselves this month to create a little airport for our gorgeous wooden plane.
What I love about these toys are the time, detail and love gone into making them. They arrive unassembled in a drawstring bag and with a few simple instructions, your toy is transformed! Your child is ready to run away with their imaginations and create a world of fun and adventure.
With 7 toys thus far, Monday the Plane, Tuesday the Helicopter, Wednesday the Wheelbarrow, Thursday the Space Shuttle, Friday the Rocket, Saturday the Castle and Sunday the Ark, the entire collection is a treasure trove of creative imagination for kids.
With the use of plywood and the fact that the toys are not painted in any way, these toys are both gender neutral and highly durable standing the test of time in terms of trends and destructibility from kids play. When cared for properly, wooden toys are true heirloom pieces and I come back to this time and again on my blog as I am such a believer in eco- friendly toys for our kids and our earth.
Despite their busy toy making schedules, I was lucky enough to ask Jake and his wife a few questions over email about their growing business and here is a little more about the story behind “Have A Nice Day.”
Kids Gifts and Toys Q&A with Jake and Dom Diaz aka “Have A Nice Day”:
1) Have a Nice Day is one of only a handful of Australian wooden toy designers currently designing and manufacturing in Australia; when I started my blog over 3 years ago, there was basically none! Why do you think the landscape is finally changing for your industry?
I think quality Australian made brands and products are becoming more prevalent in the marketplace because people are making a conscious decision to buy once and buy quality over soulless mass produced imported products that have flooded the market in recent years.
2) I love that you are a husband and wife team, making it work so fluidly, when did you realise that together you would make a formidable team? Are there any daily struggles being married and business partners?
We have a lot in common but our strengths are in different areas. As Have A Nice Day grew, we realised we needed both of our strengths for the success of the business. I enjoy the challenge of designing and the process of making the toys whereas Dominique enjoys the organisation and numbers side. We know which roles and responsibilities we are best suited to but there are some areas where it works best as a combined effort. The benefits of working together are that we add different perspectives from our different backgrounds.
There are many struggles that come with working with your partner. Our main one at the moment is that because it is our business we find ourselves thinking and talking about it when we’re not officially ‘at work’. We have the flexibility to have our family time and work hours when it suits us best but getting that balance is a challenge.
3) You moved from Sydney to the Gold Coast, do you think you could have started up Have a Nice Day whilst based in Sydney or has your new lifestyle helped to shape the new business?
Have A Nice Day started in Sydney about a year before we moved as an idea and a few toy designs but we didn’t realise its potential straight away. I designed and made a few toys in my spare time at work for my son which turned into another set for my nieces and nephews and then more for family and friends. We moved to the Gold Coast mid last year so that we could dedicate the time to grow Have A Nice Day into what we have planned for it. We didn’t think we could have the balance of family time and effort involved in getting a new business started whilst living and working in Sydney.
4) I love that the whole premise of Have a Nice day is about play and the happiness a child enjoys delving into their imagination, what was that pivotal moment that made you quit your successful industrial design job to become a professional toy maker?
I had worked as a designer for manufacturing companies for the last 10 years designing products I liked but was not passionate about all the time. Dom was pregnant with our second child and we decided we wanted the flexibility to spend as much time with our kids as possible while they are young. We were both comfortable with our abilities and work ethic to know that we could create something of our own but it was still a big leap. As hard as it was, we could see it was only going to get harder and we didn’t want to regret not doing it when we saw the opportunity.
5) What are your kid’s favourite toys from the range?
Saturday the Castle was the first toy I designed and made and a favourite of my son. Ours is currently covered in Hot Wheels in the lounge room. He is using it as his garage but soon it will become something else. His imagination is amazing and the stories and adventures he so very convincingly tells us would make one hell of an action movie.
There’s always been a special place for Thursday the Space Shuttle with my daughter. When we first started Have A Nice Day we did the boutique designer markets and my daughter always gravitated to it.
6) In this super modern age, where tech is king, it can be tricky finding a balance between tech time, outdoor play and creative play. Do you allow your kids any tech time? If so, how do you balance this?
The only tech time our kids really get is the TV. We don’t watch much ourselves but our son is at the age where he wants to know what every button does so learning how to use the remote control is his latest achievement. Our house is full of prototypes and toys that develop and challenge them and we find they naturally gravitate towards those over the TV.
7) When I met you last month, I was blown away by your enthusiasm and boundless creative designs, how do you decide which design you will prototype to then become part of the range? Do you have a whole lot of UFO’s (unidentified finished objects as my Nana would say) in your workshop?
A creative outlet and personal project for me is sketching and modelling products every day, whether it’s a light, a piece of furniture or a toy. Some designs I come up with, like a new clip design or a detail on a product, can be incorporated into ideas for new toys that are always rolling around in my head.
Our home is full of concepts and prototypes. I prefer to go from an idea to a prototype pretty quickly and get it into the hands of those who can give the best feedback, and for our toys, that’s our kids. I watch which toys or features they play with the most and develop the ideas from there.
8) Any sneak peeks you want to share with us on new products launching this year?
We’re currently finalising the details of our next range which will be released in May. Our first range of toys was designed for our son but now that we have a daughter, she has had a big influence on the direction of the new toys. Her dolls and teddies now have somewhere to play. And there are a few for the boys too.
What is my verdict on Have a Nice Day toys? In one word “awesome”, they are both beautiful to look at and play with, they have been thoughtfully designed in that they can be disassembled and put away for another day, or left to be displayed on a shelf or bookcase for another time of creative play!
The natural texture of the plywood gives them an organic feel that is lovely for the child to touch as the ply is extremely soft. I love that each toy has been tested out by Jake and Dom’s children and that they have been built with their children in mind.
I ADORE that they have been designed AND made in Australia, not a mean feat especially given the extremely reasonable price point of each toy. I wish that they had been around 8 years ago when my eldest was born as the whole collection Jake has created so far is exceptional and I love supporting small, local businesses.
I love that out of a desire to create an awesome toy for their first child, and with numerous requests from family and friends for them which then turned into local market stall days, their brand is going from strength to strength and is now being stocked across Australia in small toy stores and kids boutiques.
I just cannot wait to see what they are going to release come May! The countdown is on…
Toy of the Month: Monday the Plane by Have a Nice Day
Helps to teach kids: to use their imagination and create worlds of adventure and fun whilst exercising their fine motor skills and coordination to make the toy move. It is great for story telling, and helps build confidence and social skills like sharing and co-operation.
Great for: kids who love to use their imagination! These toys work well with other toys you may already have in your toy kit like wooden train sets, blocks or wooden cars.
RRP: AUS $49.00
Have a Nice Day toys are designed and made in Australia using sustainably grown Birch Plywood which is a premium furniture grade hardwood, sourced from Europe. You can follow them over on their Instagram or Facebook accounts.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post; however I did receive a sample for my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.