Is there anything that our kids love more than the freedom to engage in imaginative, free play? jnr.life set out to create a range of aesthetically pleasing play mats and toys for children that wouldn’t add unnecessary clutter in the home. Products that are as stylish as they are functional, made to last and provide an outlet for open ended play. jnr.life celebrate their third birthday this week (Happy Birthday, baby!) and we are delighted to share a bit about their story, how they’ve survived as a small business during a pandemic and dive into their philosophies around play and creating a fun environment for children to explore.
jnr.life started in 2018 from desire to create family-friendly products that also complement grown-up interiors. Co-founders Nikki Davis and Ashleigh Pyke have a combined pool of skills in design, international brand, marketing and retail management. Through their own experience as mums, they identified a market for more sophisticated children’s accessories for the home. ‘After having our first children and prioritising family, we developed our interest in combining our skills to create a unique children’s and lifestyle product.’
How has 2020 and 2021 been for your business?
‘It has been absolutely crazy for us! Living in Victoria, we both have kinder and school-age children which meant that for most of the year they were at home. Nikki also had a baby this year so she’s been a one-handed boss lady! But because the business is our other baby, it still required our focus and attention. It was serendipitous timing that we had already started to look at manufacturing locally because it meant that we could complement our (delayed) offshore production with something local. Almost two years into the pandemic and more than ever it has felt right to focus on supporting local and we look forward to continuing to grow this part of our business.’
Boom Boom Playmats
‘The initial idea was ‘how can we make a playmat that not only complements our homes but is jam packed with all of the features and utility we are looking for as mums (and that is safe!)’. The ‘boom boom’ playmat is where it all started. Made from non-toxic baby-safe materials, the playmat is cushioned with memory-foam and quilted in canvas that is resistant to water, stains and UV (plus it’s machine washable – win!). Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the boom boom playmat is also perfect for taking to a family lunch, away on holidays, or to the park.
What’s more, we absolutely love that jnr.life donate $2 from every playmat purchase to St Kilda Mums, a volunteer led organisation that provides pre-loved nursery goods to families in need.
How important is it to you to produce ethically and sustainably, and how are you managing this?
‘We don’t believe in short-term equipment. Ours is a vision for the future, rooted in the belief that beautifully constructed, formative pieces should be made to last. Robust versatility is top of mind, with baby kick-and-play mats doubling as play-space rugs to extend far past the toddler years, and our new jnr.play collection ripe for endless play in the home, garden and beyond. In a market saturated by clutter, our philosophy is one that embraces simplicity and restraint by way of rich, geometric expression and practical yet subtle materiality. We understand the importance of fun and functionality that’s tough enough to withstand recreation in the big wide world.’
jnr.play Soft Play Shapes
Just in time for the holiday season, jnr.life have released play.sets. Designed to sit alongside your existing furniture, the play shapes are softly padded geometric shapes that can be re-arranged, stacked, climbed upon and provide an invitation to play, get creative and stimulate motor skills.
Designed in Australia and manufactured by local makers in Melbourne using oeko-tex certified materials, the pieces are upholstered in a pebble-textured fabric for an added sensory experience, they are beautifully constructed and made to last.
The play.sets are an ideal holiday or birthday gift, for the active and adventurous. Featuring some of the most popular shapes from their collection, jnr.life have taken out the guesswork and curated a fun-filled combo of 2, 3 or more shapes. The addition of a play.set in your home will provide endless hours of fun and entertainment both inside and outside. Layer-up with the playmat and boom boom, play time is sorted!
Baby, Give Back
With 5 children between them, Ashleigh and Nikki are passionate about supporting families that are less fortunate. As part of their baby, give back initiative, jnr.life give their customers the opportunity to pass their jnr.life packaging filled with pre-loved or unused baby goods to St Kilda Mums. They partnered with sendthat to power returns from customers across Australia. In 2020 alone, St Kilda Mums helped 20,000 babies and children who needed additional support. What an amazing way to give back to the community and to assist those in need, especially given the struggles that many families have faced during the pandemic. Bravo St Kilda Mums and jnr.life!
Minty's top 3 jnr.life play.sets
Quick fire Q’s
(Instagram) Fave scroll stopper: We are partial to basically anything that represents a dreamy, beach holiday right now!
(Design Style) Less is more or more is more: Less is more ! We definitely prefer a clean, minimal palette with pops of colour in soft furnishings, (cue our range!) We’ve always been driven by a philosophy of creating pieces that we can envisage in our own homes where we and our children live. Utility and durability at our core.
(TV) Can’t switch off: Modern Love on Amazon Prime
(Motherhood) Defining parenting moment: The early days of motherhood! They are nothing for which anybody could possibly prepare you, despite us both having friends around us that already had babies! It is the most life changing and daunting experience, but gosh there is nothing more rewarding. We know that as much as anyone could have warned us, we are built with a maternal instinct. We can take on motherhood with that naivete because we have the intuition to deal with it.
(Mindfulness) Quote that best sums you up: “Real queen’s fix each other’s crowns”