The story of how I got to know about Goose Grease starts, unexpectedly, at a 99-cent store. I broke down and went in to get a yoyo for my older son, who had been begging for one with that relentless insistence characteristic of 4-year-olds. You could get not one, but four for a dollar. Needless to say they all broke just by looking at them. So I set off to find an awesome solid wood yo-yo that would last. I came across Goose Grease’s wonderful wooden toys, and I was sold – and hooked.
Their toys are not only sturdy and durable (always solid wood), they are creative and encourage children to let their imaginations run wild. Their craft kits are great for budding artists – check out this gift-ready family kit.
Goose Grease also offers educational toys that little ones will continue to play with as they grow. These fun hand painted ninjas are a fun way to teach toddlers about color, and will become a small army of friends to take along on adventures.
Goose Grease is run by Anna and Juan Donado, a husband and wife team that gets creative support from their 3-year-old daughter. They source a growing number of their materials through a fair-trade agreement with a carpenter in Colombia, where Juan is from. Anna, the artistic director, tells us more about the origins and plans for Goose Grease.
I have to ask… Where does the name Goose Grease come from?
Goose Grease is an old Southern name for homemade medicine. We grew fond of the name because we feel our products can be somewhat therapeutic in their own way.
How and when was Goose Grease started?
Goose Grease was started in 2008 by a former partner of ours. I started painting for her and, to makes a long story short, soon moved up to be her partner as well. Juan and I both fell in love with the business and at a moment when we felt the company was agonizing, we decided we would offer to take over.
What moved you guys to source some of your manufacturing to a fair trade carpenter?
When we finally had control over the company, we knew we wanted to start moving away from the anonymity of mass produced craft supplies. After some twists and turns, we found a carpenter in Colombia who would turn the dolls by hand on an electric lathe. We love that each doll is unique and has its own personality. It was a way of both bringing a unique product to the people and taking a step down the ladder to support the community in a small way. Because the sources are sustainable, responsible consumption of natural resources is also a very important element.
Your daughter has been an amazing source of inspiration. Is she suggesting any products yet for the family business?
She actually paints her own dolls and we have found a really cool way of hanging them together forming a type of curtain. As for now, nevertheless, she remains our official product tester.
What are your favorite spots in your neighborhood?
We would have to start with our local libraries (Leonard St. and Bushwick Ave.). We are avid visitors and have profited so much from having libraries within walking distance.
Goose Grease wooden toys are available at goosegreaseshop.com and boutique toy shops around the country.