Kids In The City Magazine
WITH AN INGENIOUS IDEA FOR LOW-TECH, ECO-FRIENDLY TOYS, GOLD COAST FATHER OF TWO, JAKE DIAZ, TOOK THE LEAP AND LAUNCHED HIS OWN RANGE OF HOMEMADE PLYWOOD TOYS. NOW GAINING HUGE POPULARITY ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WE TALK TO THIS LOCAL DAD TO FIND OUT MORE.
What were you doing before you started Have a Nice Day toys?
I am an Industrial Designer and I was working as a designer for manufacturing companies in Sydney. We moved to the Gold Coast mid last year to concentrate on growing Have A Nice Day and spending more time with our kids.
What prompted you to start the business?
I designed and made a few toys for my son at work in my spare time. I cut a few more for my nephews and nieces for Christmas, then a few more for family friends. I loved seeing other families benefit from what I had created so we started taking it a little more seriously and started Have A Nice Day.
From cutting the initial few toys for my son, it’s now a full-time commitment for both my wife Dominique and I. We sell online and we’re in over 15 retail stores around Australia.
Tell us about the toys you make…
I like to get kids thinking and interacting with their toys. They all clip together differently so the child has to use logic and trial and error to put it together. Seeing that mental stimulation and the excited look on their faces once they finish putting it together is very rewarding. The older the child the more they can understand why I include certain features and details. The rational conclusion they draw from observing and building the toys sparks their curiosity to look at other objects they interact with in new ways. The same way I try to understand how and why something has been designed a particular way.
We love the individual names for each design! What inspired you to do one for each day of the week, and how did you decide on the designs?
When we committed to launching Have A Nice Day we had 7 toys in our range. I wanted to keep it fun and original, and it goes with our business name too. Have you ever met a plane called Monday?
Ideas for new products are sketched out, modelled and cut out pretty quickly because I like to get them into the hands of those who can give the best feedback: our children. I watch which toys or features they play with the most and develop the ideas from there. No two toys click together the same way to keep it interesting and challenging. Designing and making these details work is an enjoyable challenge.
What makes your toys special?
We are responsible for the whole process and our attention to detail is incredibly high. There is a lot of thought and planning not only in the toys and the manufacturing processes, but also how they’re represented; on our website and social media. There is a lot of research and development that goes into each toy. And by R&D I mean making and playing.
What is your favourite part of making toys for a living?
I get to involve my three-year-old apprentice in the process which is pretty special. When I’m in the workshop prototyping an idea my son is always keen to be by my side watching and helping where he can. He knows where all the tools are but his attention span when sanding could be improved! The anticipation on his face as the first finished piece comes off the machine is magical. He is so excited to tell Mummy what he made that day at ‘work’.
Do your kids love to play with them? And which design is their favourite?
It used to be Thursday the Space Shuttle and Friday the Rocket, but lately, it's been all about the new range we are releasing on the 1st May - in which we have a broader range of toys including Sooty the Fire Station, Sarge the Police Station and January the High Chair.
As the business operates from home, are you able to spend more time with your kids? And how has this improved your life at home?
We still keep regular-ish hours 'at work'. I’ll say my goodbyes in the morning then walk out the front door but then back in through the garage and into our office. Our kids are none the wiser that I’m in there working. Being at home means that we can make plans on the spur of the moment. If we decide we’d like to spend the afternoon out, I magically appear a few seconds later and we can have the time we want together as a family. We love having this flexibility while our kids are young and feel as though our family life benefits so much from it. They’re growing up so fast!
As this is our Environmental issue, tell us about the environmental ethos of the toys?
The plywood that Have A Nice Day uses is certified as being sustainably grown and harvested. Not only are the trees replaced, but they are harvested so that there is minimal damage to the ecosystem. Consideration and planning is given to the surrounding plants and animals so that the forests will keep flourishing.
Have A Nice Day’s products are plastic free and we ship them all over the country using a carbon neutral delivery service. We want to minimise the footprint we’re leaving on the planet whilst helping families nurture creative, adaptable and amazing kids.
Why do you think it’s important for children today to go back to low-tech, simpler toys?
Low-tech, open-ended toys stimulate all of the senses and get a child’s brain thinking creatively again. Children interacting with the toys and each other during play time is great for their social skills, mental development and physical dexterity. We don’t get told the same creative stories from our kids after they watch the TV as we do after play time surrounded by toys. With toys that engage their imagination it’s amazing to see what adventures it takes them on.
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