If you were too look up “family-owned and operated business” in a visual dictionary, you would likely find a photo of the Ana and Marek Schultz, the wife and husband couple behind Mexico-based toy company Wiwiurka.
“My children test all the products from the start. Observing them playing inspires me to create new designs,” Ana tells us about her family-unit working style. “At the beginning of our family business adventure, [the children] even helped me apply linseed oils to some toys. They are part of all our photos sessions and help me make videos,” she continued. “Running a family business can be hard for the kids. The past [few] years we have been learning to balance work and family time.”
The balancing of which has become increasingly difficult as their brand – Wiwiurka – has continued to steadily grow, becoming known as an ideal option for the parent looking for something that doesn’t leave an eyesore in an otherwise chic and adult-decorated apartment and finds itself at the intersection play and education.
Here, we talk to Ana about the inspiration behind her educationally-inspired company, the importance of putting nature at the forefront of her products, and her best advice for moms wanting to start their own businesses.
What inspired you to start Wiwiurka?
[My family’s] love for nature. My husband and I both love wood—the textures, smells, colors and the connection with the forest. Wood is a sustainable material but beyond that, it’s a material that truly nurtures all your senses. We really had a desire to offer our own children the best experiences and play adventures.
You’ve focused on the intersection of play and education. Why is that so important to you?
My main interest when I became a mother 10 years ago was learning educational alternatives to accompany my daughter’s development and learning process. I closely studied the Waldorf pedagogy and the teachings of Dr. Emmi Pikler and later of Dr. Montessori.
I homeschooled my daughters until a few years ago. Seeing their interests, the way each one learned differently and how I could help them overcome obstacles or feel motivated has been one of my main inspirations.
What makes Wiwiurka’s products unique?
Every product we create is touched by a pair of hands who take care of it. The love we have for what we do—we are so passionate about [the brand] and this can really be seen by offering the best experiences for our customers, from guiding a clueless new mom about what toy is the best for her child, to offering amazing customer service, to inventing new, handcrafted pieces with care and love that bring joy and happiness to every home.
Were there any challenges you faced amidst the pandemic in terms of production/creation?
The main challenge has been the lack of supplies or extended time frames to receive the materials we require [to make our unique products]. Thankfully, the rural village where the workshop is located has had no COVID-19 cases, which is a blessing. We have been able to keep production going.
We are passionate about handmade products, yes, but even more than that, it is a priority to our entire family that we can offer well-paying jobs so that people don’t have to leave their homes. Every Wiwiurka handmade toy supports the local economy and goes to keeping a worker and his or her family safe and stable.
Your tagline is “elevating play experience for children.” Tell us more.
We strive to create innovative, versatile, aesthetic toys for indoor and outdoor play. I would say the design, materials, and multipurpose of our toys elevates children’s play experience and invites parents to join in the fun.
What advice would you give to a mother with young children wanting to start her own business?
Have a clear idea of why you want to start your business. It is hard, yes, but it’s absolutely worth it. Dedicate time to each area of your life (personal, romantic, parental…) Plan ahead. Read as much as you can. Do not be afraid to reach out to people with more experience for help or advice. Find your tribe.
Now for a few rapid fire questions:
What’s the best learning at home toy? The TamCubix
Best for baby? The Climbing Arch
Best for big kid? Large Triangular Ladder
Best for home decor-obsessed? The Floating Shelf
This article is was written in partnership with Wiwiurka.