My name is Jess and I am a proudly South African born and raised wife and mom of two living in the KZN Midlands with my family. Together with my sister, Cait, and brother-in-law, Tim, we founded the wooden toy manufacturing business, Imagine Play, in 2019.
Our wonderful range is inspired by nature and with it we encourage you and your child(ren) to explore an exciting world of open-ended play and limitless creativity. By offering you toys that promote healthy, simple, good-old fashioned fun we hope to help you grow a happy, balanced child.
Open-ended play is a creative form of free play that has no pre-set limitations and no fixed outcome or answer. In contrast, close-ended play is play with single-use items where the outcome is predetermined, such as puzzles – once completed the final outcome has been achieved.
With open-ended play, children are given tools such as blocks, boxes, sticks, water, clay, stones, material, shells and paper (the list is endless) and are encouraged to explore the world around them. They use their imaginations, allowing the play to go in any direction their little hearts wish – there is no 'right' or 'wrong' way to play. Give a child a stick(s) and it can become a wand, sword, guitar, horse, tool for drawing in the sand, a fort, a boat sailing downstream, 'counting sticks' or a sling shot (catapult) with the addition of a rubber band. The play in limitless.
As a Mom, I am hyper-aware of what toys I choose to invest (yes, invest) in as my kids' days, when not at school, need to be filled with meaningful play. I've noticed that certain kinds of toys bring out better character traits than others and they help develop key skills that I believe they will benefit from later on in life.
Material composition is also a BIGGIE for me and plastic toys are largely a no-no, if I can help it. I prefer toys that are wholesome and environmentally friendly and I tend to gravitate towards wooden toys because they are sturdy, generally non-toxic, aesthetically pleasing and I find that my children are quieter and calmer when playing with them.
Whilst scouring local and overseas markets for toys that met the above-mentioned criteria, I found a range that ticked all of my boxes but (a) my budget and (b) the exchange rate and shipping costs to SA blew my dreams of importing them right out of the water. I was disappointed, but I had stumbled upon a gap in the South African market, and I wanted other moms, dads, teachers, child-carers and kiddos to benefit from these amazing toys.
Enter Tim, with a Master's Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UCT, a wicked set of woodwork skills and a passion for research and Cait, a branding, sales, marketing, strategy, product development and distribution guru with a Bachelor of Business Science Degree from UCT to top it off. Together we have turned my dream of having the 'perfect toys’ into a reality (and now a family-owned business) and by hand, we have built a collection of toys that my kids and your kids will absolutely love.
We are excited to bring you a range that nourishes your child’s senses and connects them with nature. Please join us on a journey of raising healthy, balanced and above all happy children together. Here’s to simple, good-old fashioned fun!