Toy of the month – May 2017

We have been testing out the most beautiful toy storage trolley from Lulo Kids this month and I am secretly wishing that we had little ones again to push it around and look oh so adorable!

We used to own a little wooden trolley when our boys were toddlers that they used for toy storage and to push around but I can honestly tell you it was not as exquisite as this one (think red and white and yellow – eek!)

Lulo Kids is a Melbourne based small business designing and hand making beautiful wooden kids products.  Known for their teepees, they have recently added these wooden trolleys to go with their gorgeous bespoke wooden blocks.

Again, I am over the moon that such Australian based toy companies now exist and thrive when a few years ago all you could find were overseas based companies whose production was based in fast paced China.

In testing out the Mint wooden trolley which was sent to us on loan, you are immediately struck by the smoothness of the wood and the gorgeous grain of the Tasmanian Oak and pine. You can tell a lot of time and passion has gone into both the design and creation of each piece.

You have to assemble the trolley together as it arrives in 2 pieces, however with screw included, markings provided, clear instructions and our own phillips head screwdriver, it was no problem putting together the handle and trolley.

For durability and strength, the wheels are made from a darker hardwood and they have these cute thin rubber tyres which help to gain traction when the child is pushing it along. It won’t slip out from underneath them with the added tyres providing grip. They also help protect your floors from scratches as the child pushes the trolley around and mean their is virtually no noise from the movement of the trolley being pushed.What immediately grabs you is the beauty of such a timeless design, the wooden trolley or wagon has been around forever, in all sorts of incarnations. These days companies have added to it and turned them into fire engines, cars, and even tool chests but honestly I much prefer the classic look, fresh, elegant and pared back so that the child can play without being distracted.

We picked the gorgeous mint colour, of course, what else? But it also comes in white, grey, peach, purple or pink.

The boys had a go pushing it around and wished they were little again as they thought the trolley was “awesome” ( their words!) but they did test it out to see if it slipped or pushed out from them but it worked perfectly. So much so I had to pry them away from it before they took too much of a fancy to it.

I was lucky enough to have a little email chat to the mama brains behind this business Lucy and asked her a few questions about how Lulo Kids began and importantly where it is headed!

Kids Gifts and Toys Q&A with Lucy :  

You started Lulo Kids after creating pieces for your daughter Isla and wanted to take the creations to the next level, can you tell me a little more about those first designs back in 2015? And do you have a background in woodwork or how did that talent start? 

I actually started with Teepees back in 2015 and then added the trolleys and also blocks into our range. It has been something that has evolved over time. My first designs in the teepee were really trial and error and making tweaks to my design until I got it right.

The trolleys also involved many designs and tweaks, while the teepees are entirely made by myself, the trolleys are more of a team effort involving myself, my amazing husband and also a very talented woodworker. We have been through a very thorough design process to come up a with a very high quality product.  I do now own a few power tools and I have learnt how to use a drop saw since starting Lulo Kids! It is very rewarding when you have finished all the painting, sanding, sewing etc and an order is ready to ship! 

Your ethos is similar to mine in that your products promote creative play and are design led products, your teepee is your most popular product, why do you think parents and kids are drawn to it?

Children have the most amazing imaginations and I really like to promote and encourage this while they are young toddlers. By providing simple toys such as a teepee or trolley, our children have a base for all their creative play. We love to watch and participate in all the scenarios our daughter comes up with, she is 2 and a half now and is a constant entertainment when she is playing, imagining and role playing! I want parents to see our teepees as a quality and stylish product that their child will use for their own fun and creativity.

With the fast paced life of social media setting trends especially in kids rooms, how do you stay one step ahead?

It can be easy to look at what everyone else is doing and feel overwhelmed with all the brilliant products out there or worrying that we need to fit to a certain style. This is when I have to remember to stay true to why I started creating and stick with my own style. I like colour and pattern on the teepees but nothing too bold. I like keeping our trolleys raw timber but a splash of colour. And of course I like to have the plain whites as well and enjoy seeing how people use these as a base for their room styling. 

You are a big supporter of Australian materials as well as small business, being based in a small coastal town, do you find local people and Australians in general are embracing of these ideals? 

I love supporting small businesses and things that somebody has made.  It’s so much nicer to have a story behind whatever you are buying – whether its a handmade necklace, a locally produced wine or a family run cafe, I’d rather our hard earned money go towards supporting small. I think a lot of people are moving in this direction and would rather pay for a high quality product knowing you are helping out another Australian family. 

As a start-up handmade business, how did you find participating in local markets helped to spread the word about Lulo Kids? Or do you think social media played a big part?

I love doing markets and meeting customers. Its a great way to showcase your products, let people see and feel the quality – something your can’t show in a Facebook post.

Social media is also a great way to grow your brand and reach a larger audience. It is also a really good way to work with other small business and help to promote each other and showcase so many other great products.

I think you do need to have both the face to face as well as online to spread the word.

 As an biz mum, is there anything you wished you had known before you started out that could help other biz mums just starting out?

I really just started as as small hobby and I didn’t really consider how much time all the other aspects of small business can take (e.g. managing your website, social media, packaging products, market preparation and all the other little things) so it can be really tricky to get things done with two small children.

I like to spend my mornings out and about with the children and then try to get work done during afternoon naps or once they are in bed at night – its all about goals, list and organisations! But having said that, life with kids is unpredictable as you know, so there are times when you just have to do what you can and don’t sweat the small stuff!

Where do you see Lulo Kids in 5 years’ time?

We have some more exciting ideas for new products and designs that we will work on, so I’d like to have a few more children’s toys in our range and be known for doing them really well. 

I am so excited to see what new designs Lucy has in her “Lulo Kids” toy box and I can only imagine they will be as beautifully designed and impeccably handcrafted as her wooden toy trolley. Watch this space…

Toy of the Month:  Mint Wooden Trolley by Lulo Kids 

Helps to teach kids:  an open ended toy which helps children use their imaginations and create worlds of adventure and fun whilst exercising their gross and fine motor skills and coordination to make the toy move. 

Great for:  the trolley makes the perfect toy storage and would work well with other toys you may already have in your toy kit like wooden train sets, softies, blocks or wooden cars.

RRP: AUS $139.95

Ages: 18 months with adult supervision+

Please note: This toy is NOT designed as a walker. For us by confidently walking toddlers only.

Lulo Kids toys are designed and made in Australia using sustainably sourced Australian timber.  You can follow them over on their Instagram or Facebook accounts. 

Other products used in  the shoot: colourful wooden rainbow blocks – “Romanesque” set from Grimms available at The Creative Toy Shop,  Rainbow pillow from Peppermint Peacock  , Face pillow from Aro for KidsMinimel Panda Pillow , These Little Treasures Lenny Doll, Leather Mint crown from Tough Cookie Store ( now discontinued), Beautiful Oops by Barney Saltzman and Lego storage boxes (unavailable in Australia in these colours).

Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I was sent the trolley on loan for my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.