It was 2010 and Adrienne and David Minnery were looking for a way to spend more time at home with son Thomas, three, and baby Isabel. So the pair founded Manzanita Kids (Spanish for “little apple”) to craft handmade wooden puzzles and toys in the family’s home workshop. David, a former landscape architect, uses American hardwoods that he seals with a blend of organic jojoba oil and beeswax to make each toy eco-friendly and kid safe. The rainbow puzzle is not only an artisan heirloom-quality piece, but it doubles as a developmental toy. $28, manzanitakids.com. Most toys can be personalized with a child’s name for $6. 

After searching in vain for natural, toddler-safe play dough options for her daughter, Kari Erickson--Valenzuela made her own. Countless kitchen trials and errors later, the accidental entrepreneur landed on a recipe made from gluten-free flours and soothing essential oils. And thus Mama K’s aromatic play clay was born in early 2009. The moldable dough comes in seven scents and colors, including sweet orange, cardamom, and lavender—an -absorbing and fragrant activity for restless tots and stressed-out adults. $5 each, mama-ks.com 

 Josie Bissett loves reading to her son and daughter, but she wanted to make the experience a little more interactive. So the Seattle mom and former Melrose Placestar penned a book series that would get children reading and moving. “We love to laugh and dance, and one night while reading to them the idea for the books just came to me,” she says of the inspiration behind Tickle Monster and Boogie Monster. The books, illustrated by local artist Kevan Atteberry, are available with supplemental tickle gloves or boogie leggings to turn reading time into playtime. $17–$40, josiebissett.com 

In the early ’90s, Marian Harris was serving homemade crackers in her two Seattle restaurants when she realized she might be able to sell them. She baked up a batch, delivered them to eight local stores, and had eight new orders within a week. Now the Kent-based snack company -Partners sells over 40 all-natural products, including Gourmet Granola. The old family recipe is slow baked in small batches, sweetened only with honey and sulfite-free fruit—making it a natural alternative to processed snacks. $6 at Metropolitan Market and QFC, partnerscrackers.com

 

Kayce Quevedo grew up with a chestful of dressup clothes handmade by her mother, but when it was time to outfit her own children she was unable to find anything half as durable or imaginative. So she taught herself to sew and started her online costume collection, World of Whimm. The clothes are designed to spark children’s imaginations, meaning you won’t find any complete outfits on the site. “Who says that a mermaid doesn’t wear a superhero cape and antlers?” Quevedo says. The mask-and-cuff set is made to fit superheroes of all sizes. $15, worldofwhimm.etsy.com

Every time Becky Harper packed her kids’ lunches, she cringed as she imagined used plastic baggies clogging a landfill. So in 2009 she designed a line of reusable bags to cut down on costs—to the environment and her wallet. Harper’s cotton ReUsies (based in West Seattle) are hand sewn and lined with leak-resistant nylon. Plus they can be wiped clean with a soapy sponge. Starting at $5, reusies.com


Published: May 2013