5 Questions with Casiana and Jordi Founders Of Grapat Toys
We love toys that encourage open-ended imaginative play, creativity and development. That's why Grapat toys are so special! We would like to share this touching and personal interview with Casiana and Jordi, the founders of Grapat.
1 - Tell us about yourself, where do you live, about your family?
We are Casiana and Jordi. We both come from the world of advertising and theatre, until we decided to leave everything to start living in a rural environment and begin this project. We live north of Catalonia in a small town where we also have our workshop. We are parents of 2 children who have inspired us take the step to start this project. We are involved in projects of free schooling and alternative pedagogies; in fact we created a school for our little son! Jordi is the man of the workshop and I am the most visible face, but we are both the soul of Grapat.
2 - Tell us a bit about your company and how you came to create it.
When our eldest daughter was born, we decided that we would not buy toys or structured commercial materials. She played with some old books, with which she made roads and houses; some handkerchiefs with which she made dolls with knots, roads, costumes ... and some food storage boxes with which she built, stored, overturned ... and cardboard boxes, many cardboard boxes! This led us to a process of deep reflection on the need of children to play with toys and then, with motherhood/fatherhood and the arrival of another baby, we have continued to explore this way. This is the moment that Grapat began to be born, and then when we left Barcelona, it finished taking form.
Grapat is a very small family business with a slow production process. We are subject to nature, we always say that purple colour changes its tone when we paint it with Tramuntana (typical wind here) than without it. We are excited to be given to nature because it helps us feel part of something bigger and it helps the ego relax.
Our main priority was the whole production process, both the raw materials, their origin, the dyes and each of the materials we use ... and most importantly: the working conditions of the employees of the supplier companies, our employees and all persons involved. We collaborate with foundations of people with psychological difficulties, we work with almost all local suppliers, who have become more than just suppliers. They are companions and this allows us to get to know them, to have a direct relationship and the ability to visit them every week.
3 - Your company creates toys that encourage creative play, how do you go about designing your toys?
At a glance designing unstructured material may seem easy and simple.
You might think that a ring is nothing more than a ring, however, the dimensions, concrete forms, thickness of the wood, colour, all contribute to the idea. They all have certain characteristics.
In fact, although the simplicity of the pieces may seem like a ring is just a ring, nothing is random and everything is considered and calculated.
We like to offer unstructured materials, without instructions, because the simplicity of it offers an infinity of possibilities during many years of childhood.
When the material is simple, the activity that the child develops through it will be more complex, nutritious, rich…
4 - How do you juggle motherhood and career?
We do real juggling, but we are never completely satisfied and hope that over time this will find its balance. After school, we are with our children, but I start work again when they sleep, and Jordi starts every day at 5AM.
In fact, in order not to take away the children's hours we spend our rest hours at work, and I can say that they have attentive and loving parents, but the parents are very tired!
We love our work, it is a family project, and it is very difficult to separate at the moment. Our objective right now is that we don’t talk about Grapat at dinner time! And that is a great achievement. And if that happens at some point, we look at each other immediately, make a hidden signal, and stop talking about work.
It is a new project – only since 2015 - and we are still in that phase of “totally in love” that drags us to be all day connected with Grapat; little by little everything will find its place and its balance.
5 - What is next for Grapat?
The next thing is to continue expanding in Europe and America, but slowly, in a rhythm that allows us to continue taking care of the product and the distributors - the people involved. We like to grow, of course, as children do, but without forcing the rhythm, respecting our rhythm - just as we want it to happen with the growth of our children.
At the same time, the next thing is to continue developing new materials, now we are working on 2018 new products and it is the best time of year!