Play: Keiki Toys

I am a wooden toy geek and given my background in fine arts I can appreciate process and craftsmanship from brands like Keiki Toys. We talk about this process that is so important for these toys to become hosts of imagination. Join the #toyrevolution with Keiki Toys:

“Play is a vital element in the lives of all children, as well as being a source of amusement, it is necessary for their intellectual, physical and social development. There is no better way for a child to learn than playing.” – Keiki Toys

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Mom +Design: How did Silvana and Dia start this brand?

 

Kiki Toys: We meet when we were 10 and since there we have been inseparable. First, we were on the same grade and then neighbors so, we developed a long lasting friendship. Since we were kids we used to play to be business partners at LimitedToo. I guess we always knew we would end up working together.

We both went away for collage, Sil for Business and Dia for art school and this year we were finally both in Ecuador trying to figure out life of course.

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So one day over coffee and some life changing event talk we realize that: there were not enough toys for kids and that how weird it was that a lot of kids were encourage to play with tablets and electronic devices. We used to spend hours and hours making up scenarios with a desk a chair and a broom and now boom with a button everything was easy. So we decided to create wood toys for kids: simple, durable and functional.

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M+D: What does the name KEIKI mean? 

KT: We are both very much attached to the ocean and the coast. Since we have lived most of our lives here right next to it so we wanted to use a name that will follow some dialect close to the ocean. So we started the research process , you know… Internet, asking friends, magazines among other things and we ended up in an online journey to Hawaii. Keiki means “the little one”.  in Hawaiian.  We Imedially fell in love with the name Keiki and it really made sense everything started to flow in a natural way. Name, logo , concept.

“There is something more important than logic …. IMAGINATION”

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M+D: Where in Ecuador are these toys made and who makes them? 

KT: Keiki Toys is based in Guayaquil, Ecuador.

The Keiki Toys team is made of Dia, Silvana and Barahona.

Barahona is an artisan that has worked with us for  a couple of years helping out in our workshop with school projects and furniture. He has worked with wood his entire life, he loves wood and we have learned a great deal from him. Even to never give up. While working on some furniture he had an accident and lost a finger, but that never stopped him and he is very prouf of what he has accomplished.

Dia and Silvana design the toys after extensive research and drafting. We draw everything in the computer and then add our style, and after making samples we fix details that were not seen on paper. Then we also take care of the Business side of Keiki.

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“The less a toy can do the bigger the imagination of the child will be.”

 

M+D: What is the production process like? 

KT: We work with two types of wood, pine and cedar.

We get the pine wood through local artisans in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Usually we pick the wood with more veins. We like how each stripe tells a different story of life. Each line comes from the different colors that create the elements (sun, rain, weather) and Cedar is used from the left overs that is meant for furniture, so we have a recycled line. In that way we are able to create amazing toys with natural materials, without harming the environment. We started with geometric shapes and ended up with fantastic characters like Katai, Bruno, Bimba, Niki, which is interesting because all of our toys are named after important things, places and people related to us.

All of our products are finished with beeswax. The beeswax is mixed with coconut oil to add and extra silky touch to our products. This a natural finish for the wood, so we get rid of Chemicals in the entire process.
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M+D: What inspires the design of these toys?

KY: We are inspired in the simplicity of nordic design. In the amazing concept of Montessori education. The less a toy can do the bigger the imagination of the child will be. We are both very much in love with wood. So we were desperate to create sleek and beautiful designs that will bring back the tradition of wooden toys.

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M+D: What are some compliments that your products usually get?

KT: People love the smell of our toys and the soft touch of the extra hand sanding we usually give 🙂

Also, they always “woow I had something similar when I was growing up, haven’y seen them since”.

 Follow @keikitoys on instagram and visit their shop online at keiki-toys.com