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14 Feb '19

Celebrating Black History Every Day

Posted by Annie Messing in Gift Guides

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With MLK Jr. Day in January and Black History Month in February, I always appreciate how our local library intentionally highlights African American history on its book displays during these winter months. No matter how many times I've read to my children about Rosa Parks, the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King Jr. and other important black history makers, we learn something new that deepens our overall understanding of race in America.

It is my humble opinion that if we want to raise up our children to be tomorrow's leaders, they have to learn and hopefully possess a deep empathy for what it means to be black in America. The books we read to our children, the dolls we give them to play with, and even a simple thing like crayon colors can all help shape their understanding of diversity.

In this months blog post, I've rounded up eight gifts and books that I hope will encourage children to champion civil rights and experience life from another person's perspective. In addition, here are a few other wonderful links on African American history and culture.

10 Black History Books for Bedtime

The Conscious Kid

Family Education: Black History Month

P.S. Read picture books to your children that show African-American/Asian/Hispanic characters! Regular stories - not just ones on historical figures. I would hate for our children to think that every book that features a person of color tackles racism or historical repression.

31 Jan '19

Sweet Elephant Themed Baby Shower Gifts

Posted by Annie Messing in Gift Guides

I am no expert on baby trends, but it really does seem that elephants are becoming more and more popular! I keep seeing them pop up in nursery decor, picture books, and even baby clothing. Since a new knit elephant was also just added to the shop, I thought this month's blog theme would follow suit! Here are six adorable elephant gifts to choose from for your next baby shower.

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13 Dec '18

Six Wonderful Wooden Toys to Gift this Christmas

Posted by Annie Messing
There are so many fantastic wooden toys available right now from small family-owned craftsmen to larger, more established toy companies in Europe. Before I go any further though, I want to remind readers that a well-designed wooden toy is always going to be made with hardwoods, whereas a mass-produced wooden toy will be made of either a soft pine or particle board. The latter will not last more than a few years. The paint will chip off, the wood itself will splinter and you'll wonder why you didn't just go with an equivalent in plastic from the start!
A well-designed toy made of hardwoods will last for years if not decades. The edges of the toy may smooth over time and need a little oiling if it isn't finished with a top sealant. But on the whole, a toy made of hardwoods will stand the test of time. Yes, this higher quality toy does tend to be more expensive, but when you watch your child play over and over with that same toy - year after year, you'll realize it was worth it.
Today I am sharing six beautifully designed wooden toys that are all still available for this holiday season. Most of these toys, like the bow + arrow set, the forklift, the elephant puzzle, and the woodland animals are all ones my own four children have and play with often. No matter how many times I have to pick these up off the floor at the end of the day, I smile at how well-loved they are. These are toys that truly enrich playtime and inspire a child's imagination!
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16 Nov '18

Cyber Monday 2018 is Coming!

Posted by Annie Messing

Brimful's biggest sale of the year is less than two weeks away and for the first time, I've decided to write a blog post about it! Of course, you know I am talking about Cyber Monday, which falls on November 26th this year.

I thought it might be helpful for you to know what to expect ahead of time for this year's sale and what products might sell out. In the last month or so, I've been working hard to get the shop restocked and ready for you all. Seeing all the new arrivals come in, it has already felt a little like Christmas!

The very first holiday season Brimful was open, we did a Black Friday and a Cyber Monday sale. I spent the entire Thanksgiving week posting about it on social media, sending out newsletters and generally feeling frazzled about the whole thing. When all was said and done, I felt guilty for not spending more time with my family during that Thanksgiving holiday and promised to change things for the following year. So, now I always work to prepare everything before Thanksgiving week - and the shop only has one big sale day: Cyber Monday. That way, my family can enjoy their Thanksgiving break in peace and I am present for it too!

This year's sale will have two discounts:

Order $50 or more, Get 15% Off

Order $75 or more, Get 25% Off

Per usual, all US orders over $100 will continue to get free shipping. My very lovely fulfillment manager, Barbara, will be shipping out all orders from the west coast and she's super fast about it! But if you have any questions or concerns about the arrival or delay of an order, you can contact me here.

The two sale discount codes will be emailed to all newsletter subscribers on Sunday evening, November 25th. I will be posting a special sign-up link on social media for anyone who isn't already subscribed. If you have been receiving Brimful's newsletters already, you're good to go.

Special note: The products that traditionally sell out either on Cyber Monday or shortly thereafter are the wooden lawnmower, castle blocks, wooden camera, and mini chari basket. These are all handmade items that take several weeks of lead time to make, so they will not be restocked until after the new year. I know it's always disappointing when you've had your heart set on something as a Christmas gift, only to find out it won't be available. My advice is to please shop early!

Thank you for supporting Brimful year after year - it's a pleasure to curate the shop with so many special and unique toys for your little ones. Don't forget to tag your Christmas Day photos on social media with #brimfulshop!

18 Oct '18

Introducing Winnie, Lola, and Jane

Posted by Annie Messing in Behind the Scenes, Product Reviews

When people find out I own an online toy shop, they invariaby ask how I source things for Brimful. I usually reply with a grin, because I love telling the stories behind each of Brimful's products.

Trade fairs are the traditional way retailers like myself would typically find brands, but I prefer doing my own product hunting. Sometimes I scour the online catalogues of little European toy companies until I find something really unique. Other times I have a particular new item I want to add to the shop and then research from there.

In the case of Winnie, Lola, and Jane, the new cloth dolls just introduced to the shop, it was a combination of pure happenstance and one late night of research.

My family and I were in the Seattle area this past summer, walking to pizza along a cute street with a variety of eateries and boutiques. All the shops were closed, but when we passed one nicely styled window, a doll in the front display caught my eye. I stood and looked for a long while - it was so cute and had such lovely simple details! Exactly the kind of doll I had been wanting for Brimful. 

Through the window, I couldn't see any information about the doll, but I returned after dinner and took a photo of it. We were leaving early the next morning to fly back to the east coast, so unfortunately I couldn't go back and ask more about the doll. After my children were in bed that night, I must have spent a good three hours researching online to see if I could find the doll's designer. Nothing came up that night, but I got a few good leads. The next morning, as we were waiting for our flight - I did one last quick Google search on my phone - and found it! Gosh, what a great feeling that was.

Not too long after, I emailed the doll designer (Carman) and we set into motion the small-batch production of "the Brimful girls". I am so pleased with how they turned out and hope you will love them too. Handmade dolls can be pretty pricey, especially if they are made here in the US. What makes these dolls special is they are at a price point accessible to everyone - each one is truly one-of-a-kind. All three dolls come without removeable clothing, so you can feel safe gifting it to a little one of any age. And, because Carman has triple-stitched all the seams - you can be assured that these dolls can take quite a lot of loving and still stay in good shape over time.

So, that's the story behind Winnie, Lola, and Jane. I hope you enjoyed this peek behind the scenes to how I curate the shop.