Posts Tagged ‘toys’

Sarah’s Silks

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Read about one of our favorite toy-manufacturers, Sarah’s Silks [story by Mike and Sarah Lee]:

The story of our toy-making business is a deeply personal one for us. Our oldest son Josh was in need of many dress-up options as he loved to play pretend. He required lots of pieces of beautifully colored, non-itchy fabric for his games. We found that the options in toy stores were limited and so we began to dye our own silk squares for him to play with, eventually bringing them to market. For 15 years, we have been offering a wide selection of natural fiber dress-ups and toys to stores all over the world and, ultimately, providing families like ours with beautiful, creative toys.

We chose silk as it is a natural fiber and renewable resource. Silk is an ancient product of China. Our silks are hand-hemmed in a small village near Shanghai which we have visited. The seamstresses are in their homes, often sitting in doorways, as their children play nearby. In addition, many of our products are sewn, ironed and packaged by women working in their homes in Sonoma County, CA. Our dyes are non-toxic and the silks are easily hand-washed.

At Sarah’s Silks, we are dedicated to helping create a better world through imaginative play. We believe that simple, open-ended toys are best for growing minds. Developing inner creativity at a young age leads to higher levels of creative thinking in adulthood. When children’s inner creative life is nurtured, they grow into more well-rounded, stronger, and creative contributing members of our society, eager to bring their gifts to the world. We are dedicated to simple, unique and beautiful toys for all of the children of the world. Through our work, we are reminded of the infinite possibilities of play.

We offer quality playsilks, toys and dress-ups for boys and girls between the ages of 3-10, that ignite the imagination, and capture the magical soul that lives in young children.

To see Chinaberry’s full selection of Sarah’s Silks’ products, please go to www.Chinaberry.com and type Sarah’s Silks in the search box.

More Than 100 New Arrivals!

Friday, September 4th, 2009
Welcome to Chinaberry, home of outstanding children’s books, quality toys, fun family games and puzzles, kids’ arts and crafts, and many other gifts and treasures to support mindful parenting. We search high and low for only the very best in kids’ literature, the most fun and engaging educational games and children’s crafts, and meaningful toys that stimulate imaginations and are truly built to last.

Chinaberry offers items to support families in raising their children with love, honesty and joy to be reverent, loving caretakers of each other and the earth.

While you’re waiting for your fall paper catalog to arrive, take a peek at all our new items by visiting the Chinaberry website at: http://www.chinaberry.com/new.cfm.

Safety or Insanity: What the Press Didn’t Tell You

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Remember the lead-in-toy-paint scare during the Holiday season of 2007? While we all remember the recalls, the most significant offshoot of the situation is a law known as the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Information Act) which Congress passed the following year - an election year. A well-intentioned but deeply flawed law, it has resulted in the demise of many small businesses and cottage industries and economic hardship for all but the most enormous of companies.

As written, this law made felons out of handcrafters of one-of-a-kind children’s items, including organic and natural wooden toys and baby afghans sold at craft fairs (unless the finished item had been tested — often redundantly — by one of a handful of accredited labs in the US at a cost of several thousand dollars or sent to overseas labs, both of which typically result in the destruction of the item itself). Incredibly, the law also has the potential to make criminals of anyone having garage sales and reselling anything (clothing, bedding, toys, books printed pre-1985, etc.) for children 12 years old and younger if any item is found to be out of compliance with this law. For a short while, libraries and schools were anticipating having to dispose of, in hazardous waste fashion, all of their books for children 12 and younger. There are still storerooms of boxes filled with books printed before 1985, which are currently banned as children’s products.  Schools and libraries are no longer planning to dispose of post-1985 printed books, but science programs are still being held hostage by the rigid regulations, resulting in at least one school using posters to teach geology rather than using real rocks, and leaving others without access to items like microscope bulbs due to the necessary lead solder used to make them. The absurd fact is that CPSIA law covers virtually anything — not just toys — for children 12 and under — even shoes. Using the logic that made CPSIA a law, we should never let our kids go barefoot outside because the lead content naturally found in dirt could easily exceed the legal allowable lead content for anything intended for kids 12 and under.

Keep in mind that there were already laws in place concerning lead in paint in toys when the 2007 situation occurred. What we were seeing and hearing about at that time were toys that were not compliant with existing laws and should have never ended up in the U.S.  What would have made sense to ensure child safety with regards to lead paint would have been to enforce these existing laws. Instead, in a knee-jerk and politically-driven reaction to public concern, our legislators passed a law that has been, and will continue to be, tragically, the undoing of many makers of the very best and safest in children’s products. What started out as a law with bipartisan support has now become good ol’ politics. Congress has continued to push back scheduled meetings about the CPSIA, leaving everyone involved scratching their heads and guessing how to best move forward to comply. (There are more interpretations of this law than you can shake a stick at.)   On top of all this, there have been 11 proposed amendments that are going nowhere.

This is a law that is so monumentally extreme and cumbersome and, in our opinion, misdirected, that it will benefit few but huge retailers and toy manufacturers, and most importantly, not parents and children. Ironically, many of the toys we want for our children - those that are lovingly hand-crafted, inspire creativity, are made with the purest of materials, and won’t end up as landfill after several months of use - are now unavailable to us because of CPSIA. Ironically, what will make a toy CPSIA-compliant are expensive material and component testing that is cost-effective only in vast quantities — which brings us back to toys “made in China” in most instances. A bizarre turn of events, eh? And while European toy safety standards have typically been recognized around the world as the most stringent, many of these toy manufacturers have discontinued doing business in the U.S. because this law is so clumsy and unnecessary, safety-wise. It is a sad day when Grandpa in Minnesota, who crafts wooden toy trains in his garage, has been put out of business because he can’t afford several thousands of dollars of component testing, while factories in China the size of football fields - many with questionable regard for workers’ health and the environment — spew out toys made of plastic because they can afford the testing.

While this law has squandered literally millions of people-hours of those interpreting it, researching it, communicating about it, and attempting to be compliant with it, it has little to do with safety. Ineptly reported by the media, and passed in knee-jerk fashion by Congress, CPSIA is changing the landscape of items we can offer our children. Our legislators have created this mess and parents should be aware that their choices for items they purchase for their 12-and-under kids are being drastically reduced.

For more information about CPSIA, please visit the following sites:

http://www.cpsc.gov/about/cpsia/cpsia.html

http://learningresourcesinc.blogspot.com/

http://www.whatisthecpsia.com/

Cherishing Our Kids’ Faithful Companions

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Last week, my husband and I were clearing out Ben’s room to get ready to put in a new floor. Out came clothes, toys, games, furniture, and lots of other stuff. This all got piled into our room, and we wondered how in the world all this stuff ever fit into his room in the first place! The old, icky carpet and pad came out practically in a jiffy, really, compared to how long it took to take everything else out!

One of the things we dragged out while muttering under our breath was a black chest that had been in Ben’s room for ages without being opened. The reason we hadn’t opened it for so long was because of the pretty intricate Lego creations sitting on top of it. Once we carefully moved these, we were ready to open it.

And voila, inside were many of the stuffed animals from years past! Coco, Freddy, Bubbles, loads of Beanie Babies, as well as many more friends I did not recognize. The ones I did remember were faithful companions, loved for ages, squeezed at night, cuddled whenever necessary,  and who even accompanied us on our travels.

This picture, from about 5 years ago, shows two of these faithful companions on a trip back East. The black Lab in Daniel’s arms is a smaller replica of our own black Lab. The stuffed version was chosen not long after we adopted Buca, and now resides safely in Daniel’s room. Ben’s koala friend was made at one of those build-your-own-stuffed-animal parties and became his dear friend for quite a while. Although it’s hard to tell, this marsupial companion is dressed in a soccer outfit that coincides with the beginning of Ben’s fervent interest in the sport, bringing back those memories and making finding it all the more special.

While my memory-loving heart melted at seeing these stuffed animals, the more practical side of me was so glad to have photographic proof of how near and dear these companions were to my sons, especially since my guys are  growing up too quickly, in my mind anyway, and toward things other than stuffed animals. And although these stuffed animals made the cut of what to return to the less cluttered room, who knows where they will be in a few years?

If you can think of it, next time your little one clutches a faithful companion to his or her heart, grab your camera and record this moment of sweetness for posterity. While the stuffed animals may not be found in a big cleaning years later, the photo can last much longer.

Super Sports Disks

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Why are these sports disks one of my top five favorite toys of all time? For one, they encourage kids to get outdoors and get physical! I’ve used them with my 4-year-old grandson as well as with my own friends, and we’ve all had a blast. The foam-ringed disks have a high-strength mesh net that makes the ball catapult off it, enabling you to catch and throw balls up to 150 feet. They’re perfect for the beach or pool since they won’t sink, and on scorching hot days, use them with water balloons! Both sizes are suitable for 4-year-olds and up, but the larger ones are easier for younger ones to use (I actually prefer them myself!), progressing to the smaller ones after a little practice. Each size comes with 2 disks and a 2-inch rubber ball. Winner of the 2007 Parent’s Choice Award. (Colors may vary.) 4+; $39.95. Mini Sports Disc also available.

Review by Janet at Chinaberry

A Simple Yet Fun and Addictive Game

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Shut the Box

I played this game with my girls over the weekend. We really enjoyed it. My twins are seven and this game is a great way to help them with their addition and thinking skills, but most of all, it’s just fun. The games are quick and a lot of the winning has more to do with luck than anything else. This means your kids have the same chance of winning as you do. I even found myself playing Shut the Box by myself right before I went to sleep. I’d recommend this for a family game night or to play while waiting at the doctor’s office, at an airport, for a performance to start, etc.
- Ali, Blog Administrator

I’m not a game person, so when a friend pulled out his wooden Shut the Box game (a world traveler, he carries it with him at all times), I was none too excited. My reluctance to play, though, dissolved as soon as the game began.

It is believed that Shut the Box dates back to at least the 12th century. Because it is extremely easy to learn, yet involves a nicely challenging combination of strategy and luck, it is one of those games that is hard to stop playing.

The object is to flip over the numbered wooden tiles so that their sum equals the sum of the dice that a player has just rolled (e.g., ”7” is rolled, so a player could flip the 3 and 4 tiles, the 2 and 5 tiles, the 4, 2, and 1 tiles, etc.). When ”flipping” is no longer possible because the necessary tiles are no longer available, one’s turn is over. The sum of the remaining tiles becomes that player’s score, and the winner is determined by the lowest sum at the end of the game.

There are variations, too, and in case it isn’t obvious, it’s an excellent game for a child mastering addition. Additionally, although the directions don’t say so, it’s a fine ‘’solitaire” game.

My world-traveling friend says that his Shut the Box has traveled so many miles and seen so many hours of play all over the globe that he considers it almost as important as his passport! Now that I’ve played (and played) Shut the Box, I understand how people get addicted to games!

Review by Ann Ruethling

Clearance Sale at SD Outlet

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Spring Clearance Sale

There’s still time, so please join us for our

SPRING CLEARANCE SALE: Now through April 18!

Fabulous savings of 30-75% on all items in our San Diego outlet store.

Store hours: Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

2780 Via Orange Way, Spring Valley 91978

Exit Sweetwater Springs Blvd off East I-94. Go south to Austin; turn left.
Just up the hill, turn right on Via Orange Way. Enter the gate marked JayCraft.

Click here for interactive map

We hope to see you!

From all of us at Chinaberry, Inc.

Ph: 619-670-5200
www.Chinaberry.com
www.IsabellaCatalog.com

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Leah King

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Introducing . . . Leah King!

When it comes to wearing many hats, Leah King is . . . well, Queen! Leah first walked through Chinaberry’s doors in 1999 and found her niche in Customer Service. Nearly ten years later, Leah says, “What I truly do is work for our customers. When I’m on the phone, I really want to make sure that they have a pleasant experience. I want to represent Chinaberry and the products we carry in an honest and accurate manner so that customers will enjoy their experiences with the items they order from us.”

Since April 2008, detail-oriented Leah has dedicated much of her time to our new Quality Assurance Department (in addition to continuing to work part-time in Customer Service!).

Not only does she verify safety and compliance information, but also our own product standards. Is the product safe? Non-toxic? Age appropriate? Leah leaves no stone unturned.

As you may remember, the summer and fall of 2007 brought a plethora of toy recalls for lead in paint. In response to these recalls, the Consumer Product Safety Commission Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008 was created. The CPSIA not only  covers toys, but ALL products meant for children 12 and younger, including books, clothing, electronics, housewares, school equipment, and more. Leah has been diligently contacting the manufacturer of every item we carry and following up with them regarding the new guidelines developed by the CPSIA. It has been no small undertaking!

On a lighter note, I asked Leah to tell us her top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products, and she enthusiastically said the Neti Pot and Widu hairbrush. She’s given them both to everyone she knows. (Given the number of people Leah knows, I’m surprised we have any left in stock!)

When asked if she could have dinner with any person in the world (what would an interview be without THAT question?!), who would she choose and why, she said: “There are so many different people I can think of, but I guess it would be Desmond Tutu. For as much as he has fought for, lived through, and witnessed, he never fails to have a smile on his face and joy in his heart. He loves a good joke, too!”

We shudder to think what life would be like here at Chinaberry without Leah, but if she were to choose another profession, she says she’d like to be an environmental and social consultant for businesses to help them operate in a cost-effective yet sustainable and socially responsible manner — either that or be a rock star. That’s our Leah!