Black’s Toys: Interview with Rebecca Black
We are delighted to share with you some insight into the beautiful world of Black’s Toys. Handmade in Lancashire with love, Black’s handmade toys will be loved for generations.
Thanks to Rebecca for taking the time our to answer a few questions about their business and share some her amazing pictures too!
What was your inspiration for Black’s Toys?
The main inspiration behind the designs is reflecting the natural world around us in a realistic way. We fell in love with European wooden toys, and the idea of the forces of nature came to me. I wanted the toys to provide environments for children’s animal collections and a talking point for these natural occurrences.
Why is your business called ‘Black’s Toys?
It’s not very interesting I’m afraid! Black is our surname.
Do you have a background in woodwork?
We actually don’t, my degree was in Law and my husbands was a mixture of art, design and computing. We taught ourselves everything drawing on the experiences we have throughout our life’s, books and trial and error.
In what ways would you like to inspire future generations?
That play can be anything, there is no right or wrong but also how fragile our world is and we all need to look after it.
Tell us a little about starting of your business journey
I left work when I had my son. I had started to look into ways I could work from home and when the designs came to me for the toys, I set out to see how they could happen not realising or intending Black’s toys to reach the levels it did!
How do you manage production? Do you have your own workshop?
We are lucky to have a workshop at home and the design process is very much a team effort. I tend to have an idea and a rough sketch in mind, then Edwin will redesign and prototype. Sometimes I know the colours I want to use beforehand and dive straight in, other times I’ll use a few prototypes to get what I want.
We are both able to cut the designs, but Edwin is the main person for this. He then shapes and sands every section before it is ready for me to work on the next stage. I do most of the staining, although we have also now trained up my sister in law to help out when she can.
There’s two major steps in staining, the first is the colour, then a protective oil to ensure the toy can last a generation. Unfortunately both take 24 hours!
What is the biggest challenge of starting your own business?
The biggest challenge is always money! Making a profit designing quality handmade toys like this is challenging. We are always fighting the costs of working in the Uk, as well as machinery breaking and general mishaps!
A more personal challenge for us is being able to keep up with demand. Handmade toys are made with love, we want to ensure the time is the time to make each one of our toys to be perfect.
What are you currently working on? What is new for Black’s Toys?
We are very excited about our latest design, the sun and moon. This was actually designed last year! We always have a list of ideas and designs in the pipeline, but we are seldom able to release them due to stock levels of our other designs.
I am looking for another woodturner though for a product if that’s a hint. You will have to wait and see!
Where would you like to see Black’s Toys go in the future?
I would love to have a workshop that employs people to make our toys. I would still love to work on the photos and social media as that is something I really enjoy. Edwin would like to kick back I think!
How do you like to connect with other people in the toy industry?
When we first started our business three years ago, we were pretty much on our own. There wasn’t much in the Uk similar to what we were offering, or many similar toy ‘brands’. It felt like we were on our own, we had to learn a lot by ourselves.
Retailers helped a lot, then of course we formed relationships with brands such as Eric and Albert, Peepul, Triclimb, Reel wood and so on. This became a valuable support network for us. We all care for each other’s businesses as much as our own. It is a lovely community.
I’d love to design a product for another brand to make as a collaborative limited edition, hint hint for anyone reading this!
What would like your customers to know most about Black’s Toys?
Black’s toy is definitely a labour of love. We don’t pull huge profits, when you buy our toys, you are literally feeding our child and that is something we are so grateful for.
We get such joy from seeing your social media posts, with your children enjoying the toys we have created with our own hands. That is the greatest achievement of Black’s Toys for me.
Finally – tell us something interesting about yourself!
I never feel I’m that interesting! Something that most people wouldn’t know about me is that I used to do some modelling at university. This is what sparked my love of photography, particularly product photography.
I feel I should mention that I have depression, dyslexia and anxiety. I think it is important people know that it is nothing to be ashamed of, anyone can be affected by it.
Edwin is one of those annoying people that can just do anything. That’s pretty interesting to me and very useful lol!
Huge thanks to Rebecca for giving us this insight into their business, Black’s Toys. I think you will agree, they are a real inspiration and we are happy to have them on board here at Babipur!
Beautiful images courtesy of Black’ Toys.