Milli and Max for Little People
For newborns and up
What stronger proponent for wonder and imagination are there than toys? How many times have you looked at one just to try and see if it moved while it thought you weren’t looking? Whether it was a cowboy wind-up doll or a man in a space suit, toys are a big part of childhood.
Toys have also been heavily gender based, and ironically, even those designed for the little ones have a caveat that certain parts have to be looked after lest a toddler puts it in its mouth. That wasn’t good enough for Seamstress turned Entrepreneur Rowena Liosatos.
“People wanted to buy one of my toys,” says Rowena. “That got me thinking, I should make some more and I started going to markets. Now it’s been going for nine years.”
“I thought that was pretty tough at the time, but it’s been a very good lesson because now I apply the same things to the toys”
Rowena was a stay at home mom with two babies aptly named Milli and Max. Discontent with the option of toys, especially for toddlers, she took it upon herself to put her seamstress skills to work. Christine White and Paula Hilyard are two of the textile and fashion designers that she had previously worked with. She’s made a range of clothing from casual wear to wedding dresses.
Making bridal wear carried a good deal of pressure. Brides, after all, are a tough audience to please and it instilled the discipline of quality control.
“I enjoyed the bridal wear, I didn’t enjoy the bride so much,” says Rowena with a laugh. “I enjoyed making something that was so high quality because that was the key thing you had to put your name on. I thought that was pretty tough at the time, but it’s been a very good lesson because now I apply the same things to the toys.”
Milli came first and there were many soft and plushy items for toddlers, but they tended to be for girls. This made it a challenge to find something Max could play with at an early age. She needed something younger than a Hot Wheels or a superhero action figure. It was the gap in options that told Rowena she had to make toys for both boys and girls. Something cute and cuddly, Rowena thought. She also aimed to craft designs not easily found at the local department stores.
“It’s amazing how many adults buy my cushions and then admit it’s actually for themselves”
Like Milli and Max, Rowena’s toy selection has grown. While baby toys continue to be produced, there’s now a wider selection according to the age range, which may easily be categorised as “for newborns and up.” She’s made an effort to make each toy safe by avoiding the use of buttons and making sure that everything is stitched on. Cushions have also been a natural addition to her product line. “It’s amazing how many adults buy my cushions and then admit it’s actually for themselves,” says Rowena.
Milli and Max for Little People has been with the Old Bus Depot for as long as they’ve been around – an impressive nine years. The Glenbog Nursery is one of her favourite stalls, which specialises in locally-grown plants.
Looking towards Kids in the Shed this 10th of June, Rowena says that there’s been a few ideas on her mind that she’s been hoping to try. She can’t reveal what they are yet and that we’ll have to wait for the day of the event to see those ideas come to life.
“It’s a great atmosphere,” says Rowena. “I always look forward to going there on a Sunday. It doesn’t feel like a job thanks to the big social nature of the event.”
To find out more about Milli and Max for Little People and see more of their toys and cushions, follow them on Facebook @MilliandMax.
For the latest news about the Sunday Markets in Canberra, like us on Facebook @Oldbusdepotmarkets.