This article appears in the April 2015 issue of Parent News.
How much money have you spent on toys for the kids that ended up being a huge disappointment? Maybe I was delusional as a kid, but it feels like the toys I had and couldn’t want to introduce to my children were the worst offenders.
The Twister mat is incredibly flimsy. The Easy Bake Oven, which it was likely a huge fire and burn risk in my day, just isn’t the same. And don’t get me started on Light Bright. I know I’m not alone. In fact, I know a local Grand Strand mom who felt so passionately about bringing back a toy that she turned it into business.
Donna Brin, mom to two little boys, founded Pueri Elemental as a result of a disappointing toy purchase. She bought her sons a bonk toy. It’s that thing we all had as kids where the bottom is filled with sand and it inflates so that when you hit it, it comes back up. It’s a toy that’s safe, burns of energy, and has low potential to cause injury or damage. Perfect!
The problem is that when she purchased one, the construction was subpar and only questionably safe materials. The toy didn’t last and she had enough. She did what any other “righteous mother” (her words!) would do and became a toy manufacturer. Some days I’m barely able to pull together an even slightly humorous blog post, so I admire her audacity and spunk! When I saw the toys, I admired her awesomeness!
The product is called Eco-Bonk and I got to “meet” Emma the Owl a few weeks ago. I couldn’t stop saying “she’s so cute!” And she is. So are her friends!
While Donna designed and researched, she knew she wanted a high quality product made in the USA and environmentally responsible. The problem is that the toy had to be both reasonably priced and something that stood the test of time for a child.
The Eco-Bonk comes with a story. The plastic insert is made in North Carolina and the soft, washable cover is made from recycled plastics. It durable, locally made, practical, eco-friendly, and best of all, fun!
Donna tells me that Eco-Bonks have been popular with parents decorating a nursery as their soft exterior and inflated body are safe for little hands to explore. As a child starts toddling, it’s fun to use as a balancing tool. When he gets older, it’s a great toy to get some energy out!
When we talked about the business of starting a business, I learned it isn’t easy. “The scariest part of starting Pueri Elemental was the fear of success. I was so darn afraid of actually pulling it off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve look in the mirror and said ‘oh my gosh, this is happening.’” I’m sure she’s really had to pinch herself when she’s seen her products on major retailers’ websites and on their shelves.
Do you have a business idea? Or are you an aspiring writer or artist? Have you ever had doubt that you could be successful? I share Donna’s story to remind us all that we can. When I asked Donna what keeps her motivated she said, “My children. Every day I ‘show’ them that, with perseverance and the will to succeed, anything is possible.”
Want to read more? Check out the latest on the Myrtle Beach for Families blog.