WIN a set of Pebble toys from Oxford-based company Best Years!
Best Years is an Oxford-based ethical company selling the widest range of handmade crochet and knitted toys in the UK – and, as you can see from the pictures, their toys are absolutely gorgeous!
Read on for our review and the fascinating story behind their range of Pebble toys. We also have four of their fruit rattle sets to give away (4 toys as pictured, worth £26 and guaranteed to make your little ones smile!). To enter please go to the Oxford Mumbler Facebook page – or if you’re not on Facebook, enter on the Mumbler website here.
We were delighted to be given a set of their Pebble toys to play with for this blog and I’ve got nothing but praise for them, really. They are cute, colourful and soft and my baby absolutely loves holding them and chewing them (there are no little bits that can come off so they’re very safe, and they wash well)!
I’ve noticed when friends have been round they often comment on them because they really stand out amid the usual sea of plastic and mass manufactured toys as being really sweet and special. I’d be so proud to give these as a gift to a new baby.
These toys are also ethical. The toy-loving ladies that run Best Years scour the globe finding beautiful toys that are made in a way that is environmentally friendly and beneficial to the people making them (dream job or what?!). This is how they came to partner with Pebble in 2009.
The Pebble fair trade cooperatives hand make knitted and crochet toys in rural Bangladesh creating thousands of fairly paid and flexible jobs in the process. Find out more about the lives of the women behind the toys in this blog written by Best Years after travelling to Bangladesh and meeting them…
Why Making Crochet Toys Makes Women so Happy
When we visited Bangladesh and talked to the women who worked for Pebble they were unanimous in their happiness about working for Pebble. As old and cynical people we did wonder whether we were talking to a select group of carefully chosen happy people so we wanted to find out exactly why crocheting toys was such a good job.
It became clear as we talked to the ladies that apart from a couple of women who had worked in the garment industry in Dhaka, Pebble toys was the first chance the women had had at earning money outside their homes.
The issue is that any job has got to work around women’s role in the community. As in most countries it is the women who do the bulk of the home making and child rearing. However, in Bangladesh this is an entirely manual process. There are no washing machines or dryers, no hoovers, there are no combi boilers producing instant hot water and there are definitely no dish washers. Everything is done by hand. This extends to cooking as well. Dinner preparation usually starts with “First catch your chicken/fish.” Maintaining a clean house in this environment takes hard manual labour and it takes time.
Something else which takes time is taking the kids to school. This is normally done on foot because very few women have access to motorised transport. Women do not ride motorcycles or push bikes and private ownership of cars is almost unheard of. Getting kids to school means walking them and until the kids are old enough to walk with friends this takes several hours out of each day.
So against this background the concept of holding a 9-5pm job looks slightly ridiculous. Most women work for Pebble for a couple of hours in the morning, they break to make lunch for their families, and then resume work in the afternoon for another couple of hours. If they want to earn more money they may crochet at home in the evenings but the Pebble working day is normally around 4 hours/day.
The good news is that in these 4 hours a day they normally earn in a month more than a garment factory worker does for their 8-10 hour days. And they are at home so they don’t incur additional costs such as rent.
We met women who worked for Pebble while doing degrees and Masters, others who juggled home, kids and crocheting and most had some form of agricultural work they need to complete every day. All of them were thankful for the opportunity to earn money without having to neglect their homes and families.
But its not only the opportunity to make money which makes Pebble a popular job. It is also very social work. The women sit with their kids and other women and chat while they work. Pebble provides work which fits in to their lives and their culture and doesn’t force constraints on people who already have more than enough on their plate.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of job satisfaction with Pebble is that they now employ over 12,000 people yet they have never had to go out to recruit for more workers. But lets face it, if you were offered fairly paid and flexible employment what would you think?
Its not that Pebble work is perfect, but it has been conceived and set up to fit in with the community and that’s why it works, and that’s how crocheting can make for so much job satisfaction!
— To shop Pebble toys and see all the other lovelies on the Best Years website head here.
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