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Thursday, June 20, 2024

How this Pune-based startup is redefining education with eco-friendly toys handmade by artisans

Pune-based startup Toy Trunk designs eco-friendly toys that are handmade by local artisans. As these toys boost children’s motor and cognitive skill development, they help in their education.

Toy Trunk, a Pune-based firm formed by architects Priyanka Mangaonkar-Vaiude and Ajay Vaidya, is redefining education with the help of toys designed for 0-8 year old children.

Their handcrafted toys are developed “following extensive research on motor and cognitive development of children” and produced by traditional craftsmen using non-toxic, sustainable eco-friendly materials like wood and lac.

Early childhood experiences influence a child’s brain and ability to learn, interact with others, and handle everyday stress. Priyanka said Toy Trunk was created to educate parents and guardians about how toys may help children grow.

To validate our “handmade” claim, certain toys may need rudimentary machine cutting for their foundation form. She adds that fine-tuning, sculpting edges, colouring, detailing, assembling, and finishing are all done manually. Being inspired

Priyanka, an architect, interior designer, and craft and technology expert, has over a decade of experience in Indian academics. In early 2020, Priyanka and colleague architect Minu Joshi wrote a research paper for an IIT Bombay conference on resurrecting Sawantwadi’s legendary toy-making woodcraft.

“This paper proposed different revival strategies, and both of us thought ‘instead of just discussing these, how can we implement them?’. Priyanka remembers how the Toy Trunk concept was formed.

Priyanka’s kid turned three during COVID-19’s first wave. She struggled to keep her kid off the screen throughout the lockdown. Her son’s addiction to phones, iPads, and TVs was upsetting since it may harm his mental and physical development.

Priyanka says, “I discovered a real shortage of engaging toys. This inspired me to study child development and entertaining, accessible instruments for holistic growth.” Priyanka remembers that toys are the finest aids for early growth since they amuse.

She connected the connections and redesigned these artists’ traditional toys as aids for comprehensive infant development. These artists might also help preserve Sawantwadi’s traditional woodcraft.

Ajay, an architect and urban planner who specializes in human ergonomics, also saw how online schooling during the epidemic increased screen time for parents and children, causing disengagement. Ajay also saw that babies and toddlers in his apartment complex were no longer content with screen time.

“Off-screen activities engage children. “When Priyanka and I joined forces with our common vision, we participated in “Toycathon 2021,” a nationwide competition organized by the Union Government in January 2021,” adds Ajay. Toy Trunk was founded three months after their final round submission in April 2021. Their website started in May 2022. Eco-friendly toys

The bootstrapped firm has published 24 goods and hopes to become a Rs 1.5 crore brand by the year’s end. Toy Trunk sells directly to customers using the D2C business model. The company’s website and Firstcry and The Nestery offer toys online. Ajay said they want to be on Amazon India, Flipkart, and Jiomart shortly.

Ajay explained how Toy Trunk works with artisans, saying, “We deal with them per-order. We order goods from the master craftsman who employs these craftspeople. This system makes it easier to discuss design, manage material, delivery time, etc. Master craftsmen pay artisans by order.”


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