Little Wiwa is leading the way when it comes to play mats that don’t compromise on style or function. Inspired by Scandinavian design, these premium, eco-friendly play mats are sustainable, non-toxic and biodegradable. Co-founded by Shanti and Paul Wiwatowski and launched in 2018, the elegant designs are thickly padded and provide a safe, environmentally friendly surface for tummy time, rolling, crawling and endless amounts of play.
Why shop at Little Wiwa?
At Minty, we just love the neutral colourways and simple designs that complement any decor style! The play mats are designed to enhance your living space, so aesthetics needn’t be compromised. The range is available in a variety of patterns and sizes to suit your space – Generös (Large), Cirkulär (Round) & Små (Small). The environmentally friendly materials are non-toxic, sustainable and biodegradable, plus any spills can be wiped up with a soft cloth and a mild soap. Last but certainly not least, you can simply roll it up and slide under the couch or even use it yourself for a stretch or quick meditation while baby sleeps! These award-winning play mats have earned over 1200 5-star reviews and are supporting playtime in the homes of 50,000 minimalist style lovers. Today we sit down with founder and director, Shanti to learn a bit more about these eco-friendly, designer play mats.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how Little Wiwa came about?
“My name is Shanti, I’m a mother of 2 and together with my husband Paul, we co-founded Little Wiwa. It is our small family owned business based in Melbourne. It all began in 2016, when 4.5-month-old Vinnie showed signs of crawling and before we knew it, he was a little active commando crawler. Within a short time, he developed calluses on his elbows and putting him anywhere besides the hardwood floor or carpet wasn’t an option. It wasn’t practical nor comfortable and I knew I had to find a safe, plush play mat to support his newfound motor development.
After much research, not only could I not find any that suited our minimalist style, I also learnt the dangers of PVC toy products and the risks it could impose on our (kids’) health. Being a Food Scientist in my earlier career, I understood the biological toxicity this imposes. In particular, the stabiliser additives that are widely used in PVC products are harmful – causing toxic effects primarily on the developing immune system. Since then, there was no turning back – there was absolutely no compromise in my baby’s safety. This was the seed of aspirations for Little Wiwa and the rest was history.”
Can you talk us through your main mission as a business?
“At Little Wiwa our mission is to provide the safest play mats, with a focus on minimalist style and minimal carbon footprint. We want to supply a product that is sustainable and a safe alternative to toxic plastic that doesn’t compromise on style. By moving away from the use of toxic plastic into safer and sustainable alternatives, we are protecting our children from the biological toxicity that toxic plastic poses to their health and create a better future for following generations to come.”
How important is it to you to produce ethically and sustainably, and how are you managing this within your business?
“We set out with the intention to move away from materials that are detrimental to the environment by searching for sustainable alternatives to create a our play mats. Every Little Wiwa play mat is made of a premium eco-friendly and 100% sustainable, biodegradable non-toxic TPU foam. These materials have the potential to last for years, or can later be recycled.”
Can you tell us a bit more about TPU foam?
“Most importantly, it is non-toxic; free from PVC, BPA, and toxic chemicals (plasticisers, phthalates, cadmium, lead and many more relating to the use of additives in toxic plastic) to provide a product that is safe for babies, adults, and the environment.
TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) is a material belonging to a group of thermoplastic elastomers with physical properties that is often referred to as a bridge between rubbers and plastics. It is highly durable, flexible and offers a multitude of application possibilities in many industries from automotive, agriculture, sports, leisure to medical industries where safety from biological toxicity cannot be compromised.
TPU is an inert material and does not off-gas any volatile organic compounds (VOC) hence our choice of this material to create play mats for children, who with their developing immune system, are at most risk when exposed to toxic plastics.”
Tell us a little bit about the design and manufacturing process? What inspires your designs?
“It’s a creative process with the whole Little Wiwa team, bouncing ideas off each other. We discuss everything from our current favourite colour palettes, new aspirations, and ideas. This usually takes months to develop into the perfect design we all love, everyone’s opinions are appreciated and none gets left out, so every product is a team effort. Our latest range, the Herringbone collection marks our inception to a new generation of minimalist mats. Fit to pave a royalty’s path, the Herringbone collection is a marriage of visually rich and enchanting Herringbone and Chevron patterns, a grand symbol of prestige and simplicity.
We also have the Doraemon range which has a very special place in my heart as I grew up in Asia in the 90’s. When Doraemon approached Little Wiwa to propose an exclusive collaboration, our entire childhood memories resurfaced in excitement. We have an exclusive collection that boasts Japan’s beloved icon and this is our love letter to Doraemon, a homage and a thank you for always being there throughout our childhood.”
What is next for Little Wiwa in the future?
“We’re consistently sourcing and developing new designs and products that complement our play mats, so stay tuned for more exciting products coming soon!”