More than just something kids play with, toys can help kids discover more about the world and themselves as well as understand things that parents may have a hard time explaining to them.
And that’s what Ain and Ice, the sisters behind educational Toy Makers LaruAin, had in mind when they began their project. What started as a means of raising money for their mother’s chemotherapy treatments, LaruAin was designed to help raise cancer awareness, rallying under the battle cry of #TumorNoMore. Ain made use of her background as a teacher to conceptualize these educational toys alongside her sister Ice who takes care of the marketing side of the business.
Handcrafted with care and love, it takes at least two weeks to create these special toys, assuring those who order that they’ll get something unique and one of a kind each and every time.
Aside from being adorable and educational for our children, these plushies teach us that you can go against something as daunting as cancer, all with something as simple as a toy.
Tell us about yourself
I've always thought of myself as a creative tinker. I always try to keep my hands busy by creating anything... must be because of memorable and meaningful experiences growing up. I am the youngest of three kids who all grew up in the 90s. Growing up, I enjoyed playing with concrete materials, especially the ones used to build our house and other materials found outside: wood, gravel, cement, flowers, leaves, etc. During my school age, I wasn't into sports, I preferred joining crafting or art clubs. In college, I received my bachelor's degree in Family Life and Child Development from UP Diliman. I had plans of taking up medicine but during my practicum year (we had to teach in preschool) I rekindled my passion for crafts and discovered my love for toy-making. Since then I started making toys for my students in Cambridge and continued even after I was promoted to a directress position. After 5 years of working as an employee I chose the unstructured path and became a full-time toy-maker/ entrepreneur alongside taking care of our mom.
Tell us more about LaruAin
LaruAin is a brand of educational toys designed and created by Teacher Ainee. With the first line of body part plush toys, LaruAin aims to foster learning about the human body, raise cancer awareness among the youth, advocate locally-made products, and encourage the appreciation for handmade crafts.
How did the concept come about?
In 2015, there was a recurrence (first diagnosis was 2008) of our mom's brain cancer. She was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme 4. Since the treatments (radiotherapy and chemotherapy) are very expensive my sister started a string of fund-raising activities which included selling small plush toys of the logo"Brainee" made for the activities. The name "LaruAin" is a twist on the Filipino term for toy (laruan) and my name (Ain). Eventually, LaruAin toys branched out to creating different body parts for families battling cancer, people in the medical field, and even the ordinary Filipino.
What life lessons would you like to teach the younger generation?
Family is heaven on earth if you treat each member with love and compassion
Passion is meaningless without a purpose, even just to raise awareness
If you plan to put up your own business, money is not your only capital. You can also bank on your passion, the meaning behind what you can offer, and your initiative to share your greater purpose to others
We are all born creative, no idea is too simple or to complex. Make time for your creativity and never stop creating
Mommy Annie with her loving daughters Ice and Ainee
What makes you happy?
I am happiest knowing that my family, especially my mom, is comfortable and well. Seeing and hearing people's positive reactions towards the things I create also make me happy.
To learn more about LaruAin
Photos property of Ainee Idanan