Petit Menhir is a new toy set that reimagines the classic building block as a multi-angled, rock-like, colorful series of shapes that bear more than a passing resemblance to Easter eggs (they are also delightfully packaged in straw-like padding so, upon opening the box, you are transporting back to Easter morning and shifting through baskets of candy). Petit Menhir is described as a simple and fun educational wooden game for children that was inspired by the famous Montessori pedagogy. Essentially, these abstract “blocks” develops motor skills, creativity and balance whilst stimulating concentration.
Petit Menhir has disrupted the construction play category in the most wonderful of ways. The game is recommended from the age of three years and can be played alone or with others. While the most common way to play is to stack the blocks until they fall, children can build an array of structures with these pieces—or even experiment with creating abstract forms.
Each block is made out of beechwood sourced from FSC certified forests. This means that the wood is controlled from its origin to the manufacturing and distribution process and subsequently guarantees that the resources are harvested responsibly and meet current ecological needs. Since its establishment, the staff at Petit Menhir has been committed to providing parents with safe and top-quality products for their children and the company only works with partners who share their values of trust, respect and ethics.
Recently, Chris Carlson, Founder & CEO of Petit Menhir, discussed this company via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for toys and how did you break into the industry?
Chris Carlson (CC): We were taking care of our nephew and we decided to go for a walk on the beach by the lake. In Switzerland, most beaches are rock beaches. Our nephew was collecting various shapes of rocks during the walk. Once we were back home, he started playing with these rocks and stacking them up for at least an hour. As he loved playing so much with his little rocks, we thought that painting some of them would be a fun activity. All three of us played the rest of the afternoon with those colorful rocks, building weird towers, and making up new rules. We had a blast! And that’s how the Petit Menhir game was invented.
MM: How did you get the idea to create these very uniquely shaped blocks?
CC: Being both kids from the 80’s, we felt nostalgic of our wooden toys and decided to use pieces of wood in different shapes and colors for the game. Simple and long lasting, wooden toys allow children to take time to build or create. To make the Petit Menhir game even more interesting, we have also teamed up with the preschool teacher LilouTeach and created workshops to train children’s memory, concentration and skill, mixing geometry and spatial representation through print-at-home cards.
MM: These blocks look like Easter eggs and are even packed like eggs in a basket! Was this done purposefully?
CC: We always liked how the Easter eggs were presented in their little nest, and it is also a great way to protect the blocks from hitting each other. We also added a little bag to facilitate the transportation of the little blocks. We know how kids like to take their new favorite game everywhere.
MM: What made you decide to create these shapes in so many colors? That said, how many colors are they available in and do you have a personal favorite?
CC: After surveying our friends and family, we came up with the different colors. We have two types of sets, one with bright colors and another one with pastel colors. Our personal favorite is the pastel set. And after asking our community, it seems like it’s also their personal favorite, even if it’s a close score.
MM: How did you find a manufacturer for these toys and how tough was it to get them marketed?
CC: For us, it was key to develop a game that was safe and produced in a sustainable way. After inquiring about many suppliers, we found a supplier that shared our respect for people and the environment. Our Petit Menhir game is made of beechwood that comes from FSC certified forests. This means that the wood is controlled from its origin to the manufacturing and distribution process. This guarantees consumers that the resources are harvested responsibly and meet current ecological needs. Our little blocks are covered with non-toxic water-based paint which makes them completely safe for children.
MM: How different did the prototypes look from the final products?
CC: To be honest, the prototypes were more or less the same, we made a few adjustments regarding the colors but we were really happy with the final products very fast.
MM: You are a small company, so how have you stayed afloat amid the pandemic?
CC: As we sell our products for the moment only online, the pandemic didn’t impact our company, on the contrary. We worked essentially remotely during the various lockdowns. Nowadays, we have all the tools to be able to work efficiently and collaboratively from home.
MM: What other toys might you add to the line over the next five years? Essentially, how would you like to see Petit Menhir evolve and expand?
CC: That’s a good question! We are working actively on developing an offer for retailers, as well as adding new products to our brand, not necessarily toys but products that are useful to children in general.
MM: What projects and./or events are coming up for you soon?
CC: Expand our Petit Menhir sets offer, stay tuned…
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
CC: We would like to thank our community and customers for their involvement and support from the beginning of Petit Menhir. Without them we wouldn’t be able to do what we love.
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