A Lokal Guide: Gifts for the Little Ones
I’m never not amazed by the bundle of talented women that surround me – behind the scenes creating, making, supporting, being mom’s and everything in between. There is a rumor going around that Toronto has all the cool jobs and is the place to be but I’m here to remind you, that is simply not everyone’s story. Each morning when I wake up I bask in my own gratefulness. For the friends and colleagues who fill my day, the random strangers downtown who say hi, to the fresh Georgian Bay that’s drinkable, swimmable, and loveable and of course the bursting entrepreneurial spirit that continues to grow faster than I can grow my hair. Combine all of the above and in a nutshell, it’s what keeps me happy.
Lately, I’ve had a few friends who have announced that they’re pregnant or have already given birth to a little peanut of their own. Rather than whip to Winners (which even I do in a pinch, and there is nothing wrong with that might I add) I wanted to round up some of my favourite local businesses that specialize in adorable handmade baby goods so that I could support these entrepreneurs I speak so highly of.
1. Little Tree Co.
I can’t get over how cute her wooden toys and teethers are! The Owner, Kim, has been working her magic for almost 3 years and still very much enjoys the creative process behind the products she makes. From beginning to end, Kim is dedicated to sourcing proper materials that are chemical free and safe for little ones – and that’s what makes her stand out among the rest. As you’ll see, I had her create a custom pizza slice for one of my friends and I’m so in love. So typical me.
Stay tuned on social media for spring orders as currently the shop is closed for the winter. Turn around time is usually 2-3 weeks for products and custom orders are always welcome.
S: What inspired you to start your company?
K: My youngest was in the thick of teething and I was getting frustrated with the teething options that were available to us. I wanted a product that wasn't made in a factory, full of chemicals, highly packaged, etc. was safe and that also looked cool. I started doing some research and I found wood was a great option because not only is it completely organic and free of harmful chemicals, it actually disinfects itself. I was looking for a new hobby outside of my regular job and being a mommy and a natural creator of things, this just seemed like an obvious fit for me.
S: What is your go-to song when creating these adorable teethers?
K: I don't know if I can narrow it down to just one song! Music is such a big part of the whole creating process for me and I change it up a lot depending on what I'm feeling that day. I listen to a lot of soul, folk, and indie music when I'm making my shapes. Right now, the Lianne LaHavas Tiny Desk Concert is in my heavy rotation.
S: Do you make your pieces by hand?
K: I make the wooden shapes completely by hand. The process takes on average about 2 hours, sometimes longer depending on the complexity of the shape. I design them on paper first, cut it out on my scroll saw, dremel the edges, then there is a 3 part sanding process that I do to make it is super soft and smooth. I seal my pieces with an organic coconut oil and beeswax treatment that I make myself, which protects the wood and makes it water (drool) proof.
2. Sew Cozy Co.
Danielle of Sew Cozy Co. is making the cutest beanies and blankets on the market (I’ll go ahead and say that!). I’ve been swooning over her cute beanies for a few years now but never had anyone to buy for! Finally my good friend had her baby boy and I was able to spoil him with one of these handmade creations.
Visit her website for more information or feel free to start up a chat with Danielle on Instagram! Turn around time is usually 4-6 weeks as she customer orders fabric prints waits a few weeks before they arrive.
S: What inspired you to start your company?
D: I have been in business for 3 years now. My main inspiration was my daughter Rowyn. When she was about one I started seeing all these cute handmade leggings and headbands and thought I could make those for her. With a little Youtube and Google I brushed up on my sewing machine knowledge and started creating items for her. After discovering I was having a lot of fun, I made a quick Etsy page and posted an outfit. It sold within a week to a lady somewhere in Ontario and from there I was hooked. After about a year I made a switch to mostly Quilts and Hats as they brought me the most joy.
S: When you’re not creating, where can we find you?
D: If I’m not creating for my shop you can usually find me with a camera around my neck out adventuring with my two kids, dog and my handsome man, Luke!
3. Sweet Baby Booty
Thank goodness for Instagram or I wouldn’t have come across Camille and her absolutely adorable crocheted booties made with locally sourced, recycled leather and lots of love. Mad heart eyes for these handmade gems and Camille too! (she’s a peach). Stay in the know on the SBB Instagram page for updates on available items and upcoming markets. Turnaround time is usually 1-2 weeks and she offers free local delivery! Keep your little’s feet nice and cozy this winter with a pair of her booties.
S: What inspired you to start SBB?
C: My nephew is the reason I started my business. He’s the first baby in my family and his parents weren’t living in Ontario when he was born so I found it really hard to only see him over Snapchat for the first six months of his life. When they finally moved back to Ontario I couldn’t get enough of him and all I wanted to do was make him something special that was his. I taught myself how to crochet and I made him a pair of little blue booties. Seeing how much he loved them, I was inspired to make them for other little ones. There’s nothing like making something with love that makes both parents and babies happy.
S: What is your go-to song when creating these adorable booties?
C: I really enjoy crocheting to the album Roaring 20s by Rizzle Kicks. It’s a fun and upbeat album with lots of clever lyrics. It’s basically impossible for me to have a bad day listening to that album and making booties for tiny feet!
4. Gallery District Designs:
From double peak shelves to frosty wooden coasters and mountain key chains, Bryn of GDD has successfully emulated her love for nature and Grey County through her handcrafted creations. You may not immediately think to buy your bestie a shelf for her baby shower, but I’m telling you they look SO cute in nurseries. Best of all, she donates 10% of her profits to greening and reforesting initiatives in Ontario. Proud friend over here!
S: If you could convince someone who doesn’t live here to move, what would you say?
B: Four seasons of outdoor adventure with tons of spots to eat. It’s living in a great vacation spot year round!
S: What does support local mean to YOU?
B: Supporting local to me means slowly making substitutions to what you usually buy. Maybe it’s subbing out the box store brand veggies for something local. I can guarantee that you’ll have a better conversation when purchasing from a local maker and you can feel good knowing you’re directly supporting people in your community!
5. Pinegrove Design Co.
Brittany, of PDCo. is whipping up the most adorable handmade signs perfect for around your home or in a nursery! Made to order, you can browse her shop via Facebook or Etsy and even take advantage of the free local pick-up and delivery offered in Collingwood + surrounding area. Her signs are super cute and would make the perfect addition to any little’s room. I’m already imagining mom’s around the area setting up a mini photoshoot with this month-by-month sign.
S: What inspired you to start Pine Grove Design Co. and does the name have a special significance?
B: My firstborn is my inspiration and decorating her nursery inspired me to start Pine Grove Design Co. When I was a new mom, I made nursery signs and wooden arrows for her gallery wall - all to feed my craving for a creative outlet. It originally started with a few for the house, then moved on to friends and now it has grown into an online business. My childhood home was surrounded by a grove of pine trees, which is where the name came from!
S: What is your favourite thing about living in the South Georgian Bay area?
B: All of the opportunities to be outside and active year-round. It’s such a great place to raise kids as you’re close to the beach, minutes to the ski hills and around the corner from walking trails are everywhere. Plus you get the small town feel and friendliness.
From jogger sets to rompers, Gini (Owner) of O’Baby does everything by hand – the cutting, sewing, ironing, packaging, and the shipping. Gini wanted to create clothing made from quality fabrics that would be both durable and comfy for children. Currently O’Baby is on a wee break (just had her second baby) but you can shop via the website or stay tuned on Instagram for market updates. Gini grew up in Meaford just like me, so i’m happy to see a fellow small town gal following her dreams and providing such a great product.
S: What can we expect for 2019?
G: I am looking forward to bringing new designs to my Spring/Summer collection and will be taking a different approach to our storefront sales in 2019. We have changed our direction and decided against a Brick and Mortar and opted to be a part of local markets throughout Muskoka, as well as popping up at various markets throughout Ontario. We are looking forward to this change. Travelling around thus far, we have met so many new people and other small shop owners, and can't wait for new faces and new connections in 2019.
S: As a small business owner, tell us why it means so much to you that we all shop local a little more.
G: Shopping local is SO important. When you shop local you are literally putting money in someone’s pocket who has emptied their own to take a risk and follow a dream.
S: What has been your favourite piece to make so far and why?
G: My favourite piece to make so far is definitely the Rosette Romper. I think because it was my first piece. It took me a long time to master it, and I can be the most creative with it, colours, fabrics, buttons etc.
Wilderness Soap Co.
Wilderness Soap Co. is one of my fave local businesses and has been a fave ever since I started Lokal Digs back in 2016. For Laura (owner), creating soaps is about much more than just mastering a craft - she cares about the environment wants to make sure we are using good products on our skin. Currently, she uses a unique recipe, using a 6 week cold pressing process. Each bar is filled with oodles of natural ingredients such as cocoa + shea butter, essential oils and root powders to give each piece its stunning colour. Beautiful products made by an eco-conscious babe! Check out her website for the full roster of products. They won’t disappoint!
S: You’re a new mom, what are your favourite products to use on your little?
Healing Salve: Our multi purpose healing salve is naturally handcrafted with gentle, plant-based ingredients including olive oil, calendula, yarrow and lavender. It heals, calms and soothes diaper rash and can be used to treat other minor skin irritations and overly dry skin. I swear by this for our little one’s bum! We also use it to soothe and heal scratches on her face from her little, but sharp, fingernails. As she gets older, we will also use it to treat cuts, scrapes and bug bites. It’s so wonderful to be able to use an ointment with minimal ingredients that I can trust on such sensitive skin.
Coconut Milk Soap: Our little one was born at the beginning of the winter, which means seriously dry skin. Instead of limiting her baths to prevent drying out her skin, we use our unscented, highly moisturizing Coconut Milk soap. We handcraft this soap specifically for those with delicate skin in mind, including cute little baby bums. Not only does this soap keep her skin from drying out, it doubles as a shampoo too!
So many great local businesses to check out! Next time you’re in the market for a baby gift, check out these ladies and their sweet products. Dig lokal with me!
Post in the comments if you know of any other awesome local businesses that make baby goods! The more the merrier.
Photos: Alyssa Joline Photography
Creative Direction and Edits: Stef Richardson + Alyssa
Words: Stef Richardson