A new release puzzle. Introducing Narrow to Wide Puzzle! July 31 2014
Having fallen in love with the Qtoys Short to Tall Puzzle I have been eagerly awaiting the new Narrow to Wide Puzzle. It's now here and I thought I would use this occasion to talk to Cathy from Qtoys about this puzzle and what it is about her company that makes it so special.
Cathy, as you may know we started stocking your puzzles and blocks when we opened in October 2013. I instantly fell in love with two products - firstly the Short to Tall Puzzle. This is just the perfect puzzle for a Montessori home. You have just released the Narrow to Wide Puzzle. Can you tell me how you came to designing and making these two products?
Talking about the design, you may also notify that this is not something new in the market. However, we just realised that not many other manufacturers are willing to make these design in Australia as the market is quite small because the toy is very educational. For us, our aim is to provide a toy that actually teach the child a certain development skill. In design, our ultimate aim is to product a ‘fun teaching equipment’. That is what we tell ourselves among our designers. Therefore, when we see a need for a product that can help children learn, we will try to produce it. Although with the economy of scale, sometimes we can’t really make a lot of profit out of it.
The second product that my boys adore is the Natural Construction Set. These blocks are so nice to use - the natural warmth of the timber with the beeswax finish. Can you tell me a little about how these are made, all of your timber is from a sustainable source isn't it?
As with most of our products, 80% of the construction set is finished by hand. For the past five years, we have targeted to make toys that can minimize the use of chemical, where possible. now up to 90% of our natural ranges (those that have no color) are finished with natural oil and beeswax. This combination has been tested by the recognized testing organization and certified it is 100% safe for the child. We pride ourselves as an Eco friendly company, we only use plantation timber, NOT forested timber in any of our product. The two main timber types we use is Rubber wood and Acacia wood. Both of them are popularly grown in Vietnam, where the products are made.
I love speaking with you Cathy, I feel like we could talk for hours about children's toys. You obviously have a passion for children and their education. Where does this come from, do you have a teaching background?
Thank you for this. I have the same feeling whenever I speak with educators like you too. Yes, I have 6 years working as a teacher overseas. I got my Master degree in Education here in Australia, from University of Queensland. Grown up from a country, at the time education is not something totally free and available for all children, I had a dream to provide and help all children to obtain schooling. Therefore, working in education is always my passion. Although now my job is not teaching, I feel happy whenever I can make something that help a child to learn, happily and grow up happily (it is still my dream though, and we are, designers and staff of Qtoys, still pursuing this dream).
Qtoys is an Australian owned company and all the toys are designed here however your materials are made in Vietnam. Why did you choose Vietnam?
Wooden toys require skilled labour and very labour intensive. The availability of the materials is also one crucial factor to consider where the toys should be made. With these two factors, we have chosen Vietnam to set up our manufacturing base. The other reason is Vietnam is also where I was born and grew up. I know a lot about the people here. This will help me to guarantee the fair work, fair pay condition for the workers as one of our mission in the company here, Quins Group.
You were in Vietnam last week and as you know I am touched by your work there. You visited the training centre which you sponsor and provide wood work - employment. Can you tell me a little about this centre and what this work means to the people there?
All Qtoys products are made in a family owned small factory. 10% of whose workers are disable people too. As a part of Quins group sponsorship, we partner with the School for Orphans and Disable in the local area in two ways.
We recruit the graduates from the school and provide them with works in our factory (which up to this stage account about 10% of the workers there). The orphans or disable people ( either have deformed legs or deaf….) work in the factory entitle all the welfare and pays as other workers. We offer work for the students at the centre via contracted work. They produce a part of the product for us (mainly jigsaws) during their apprenticeship at the centre.
This quote of your really resonated with me and why it's so important that our children have access to real, wooden, handmade materials "90 % of our jigsaws puzzles or products that include jigsawing are made by these workers. They are not perfect, as many of you may recognise that. However, they are made by those people to want to become a perfect person too." Thank you for your work Cathy and thank you for being such a wonderful supplier.
Thank you Kylie for your understanding. I am so glad that we have more and more people appreciate what we are doing. I do hope with the support from retailers and educators like you and all Qtoys customers, we can do more and more for those youth in need. I have a few more big plans that I wish to carry out to help more people that really need works to support their living in Vietnam. And I do hope that, with the support from people who love our products, I will be able to make it happen. Thank you.