A group of analog toy making companies are growing in as parents seek to counter-balance the overwhelming hegemony of the screen. Companies such as Tegu, Play Forever Toys, Huzi Design, or Norman & Jules are focused on making durable, classic toys that have an aura of nostalgia. Others are focused on impacting the world positively. For example, Tegu, which sources its wood from an independent factory in Honduras, supports a business model that supports local Honduran cooperatives.
The Morocco-based Zid Zid Kids is more than an analog toy company. They’re point of view is that of the creative parent that sees smart choices rather than rules and restrictions. What caught our attention was that they are a lifestyle brand with a very well-informed perspective on the roles of both digital and analog in the world of children. Expanding on their crafted toys, they also make interior design pieces and wearables (masks, costumes). We caught up with Julie Klear, a Co-Founder & Creative Director at Zid Zid Kids, to get a better perspective on their brand values and perspective on living with kids.
Tell us about the 5 elements in your ‘About Us‘ page. How are these principles reflected in your products and company vision?
We consider Morocco to be a “Handmade Nation”. For centuries, the artisanal culture has been alive and well for centuries without changing, and to us, this is an exciting movement to be a part of. We produce here with many items utilizing the hand embroidery traditions passed down through generations. We couldn’t imagine producing anywhere else.
Fair trade for us is the only trade. We pay our employees fairly and give back to our non-profit partner DARNA, which helps support women and children of Tangier through job training, cultural activities, events and more. We use recycled and reclaimed fabrics in our product line, minimal packaging, locally sourced fabrics and recycle left over fabrics for carpet weaving of the classic Moroccan carpet, the Boucherouite. We ship our ottomans flat in order to reduce our carbon footprint.
Many talk about the future of play being about digital interactivity and innovation, you’ve taken the opposite approach in focusing on analog toys?
We believe in the beauty of the handmade and we feel there is an exceptional value in well-designed products for kids. Kids tend to own so much plastic over time, which breaks quickly. What about heirlooms that spark the imagination, start conversations, engage and entertain? These are the kinds of items we believe are worth creating and propose to have in the child’s life. Digital interactivity is important and is no doubt the wave of the future, but it is also important to provide the analog approach for the younger generations.
What’s your perspective on technology and its engagement with the child’s imagination?
Digital has made it easier to access stimulating experiences. I’ve asked myself whether kids will expect everything to be digital? Whether children lose the ability or interest to cut with scissors, form clay, color on paper, climb a tree, ride a bike, or read a book with their parents?
It’s too early to say, but we believe children learn the best from their experiences that happen during play. As the saying goes, “a child’s work is play” and this we firmly believe. It is in play, where children learn how things work and how things interact; these are the moments where invention of new ideas and new worlds are created. Play is spontaneous and with that, none of these experiences could ever be possible through digital play, which has predetermined outcomes.
If a child were not presented with good amounts of free play, this child would have a very serious deficit in understanding the world around her. Offering children a tactilely rich environment opens their senses, their understanding and their imaginations, which challenges as well as completes the child in a way the digital world could never do. As parents, the digital world should be viewed as tools and as choices. It is our job as parents to not let a digital experience take place of a tactile and real world filled with rich opportunities of play. It is in this, that we embrace the beauty of discovery of play the old fashioned way.
Apart from toys, your portfolio has wearable products such as masks and costumes. Tell us more about how the ideas to provide these came about.
Our focus on play is combined with our extensive experiences with children. We found that kids naturally love the magic of pretend and role-play. In our classroom and parenting experiences, we always found ourselves creating masks and costumes, which would offer endless ideas, moments of pure imagination and fun.
Kids just never tire of dress-up. When observing the marketplace, we felt we would offer our own masks and costumes as a part of our product line as a simple tool to stimulate imaginations, storytelling and create moments of spontaneous play.
What are some of the most interesting trends you’re seeing in parenting?
Among our friends in Morocco, whom are typically a mix of Western and Moroccan origins, we share a number of goals for our kids. For example, the learning of many languages with up to 4 for some families is a goal. Spending time outdoors, in the mountains, the countryside or the ocean with horses, donkeys and camels… Spending time with artisans such as potters, weavers, or basket makers to gain an understanding of craft. And lastly we all encourage our kids to eat as naturally as possible, preparing locally grown foods at home in the most simple ways using only the freshest of ingredients.