In 2009 Amanda Keller was living with her husband and their first baby in a farming community in South Australia, miles away from her own family and friends. After being diagnosed with postnatal depression one of her paths to healing was to do something for herself. Slowly and surely, Wild Woodland Toys was born.
This is the story of Wild Woodland Toys, as told by Amanda.
Number one rule in business…..LOVE and believe in your product. I have always loved wooden toys. One of my favourite past times was to rummage through second hand shops searching for old wooden toys, collecting them and wondering about their history. You may have noticed the second hand shops these days are FULL of plastic toys. To find a discarded wooden toy is not all that common.
I embarked on a journey of discovering and then sourcing affordable wooden toys that inspired a child’s imagination. Over the years this little home business evolved into Wild Woodland Toys.
For the first two years of business, with a toddler in tow, I did every market I could. I loved it. Setting up a mini shop amongst other similar minded people (mainly women and mums). That was my way of getting my name out there.When I look back and see what I did I am amazed at how it all came together. I lived on a farm (everywhere was 100 kilometres away or more), I had a toddler and another on the way. The early morning starts, the juggle of working it in around intense farming periods such as seeding, shearing and harvesting.
I launched my website in 2013 and over the next few years I taught myself to do pretty much everything involved in running an e-commerce website. I didn’t have disposable income or even an overdraft. I had to do most of it myself.
2018 was a massive year for me in business. On the farm, we were in the grips of the most horrific drought in history. I still worked from home. We had two little girls. I had one stressed out husband. It was extremely worrying times. I was outgrowing the ‘at home’ business. We were running out of room to store my stock and I was becoming physically tired with all the markets I was doing. An opportunity came up to move into a shop in the main street of Kapunda, 50 kilometres from where we live. It was an exciting opportunity. My own shop! An actual designated area to pack online orders. A front counter. A dream come true. But…(and it was a big but) I had a husband who was not coping with the toll the drought had taken on him. We were seeing farmers age 10 years in one year. We were hearing of suicides in farmers. He needed me at home. I was not comfortable leaving him alone for eight hours a day. However, despite his rough exterior, he realised that I needed to do this. With a bit of trepidation I signed up, was handed the keys and with that on September 18, I opened up the next chapter of my life!
Buy From The Bush came along at the 11th hour. Looking back, I think I was on autopilot. Four years of drought had just about destroyed my mental health. I was running on adrenaline and euphoria for a few months there. Behind the smile was a fragile farmer's wife and Mum to two little girls. Farmers wives are the backbones of farming families. We are the glue, we keep the cogs turning. By the fourth year of no rain I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown but nobody, including myself, knew that. My business saved me. It gave me an outlet. It provided me with something to do, to think about, people to talk to.
It was November 2019, and I was at a market in Adelaide selling my wooden toys. My emails began pinging at about 11am and with a quick glance I realised they were orders! 105 orders in one day! I was interviewed by newspapers, magazines, and a very brief flash up on morning TV, hundreds of supportive emails and messages. It was euphoric and something I don’t think I will ever experience again.
Buy From The Bush saved me, my business and my family. I need to make it known that it wasn’t just the money flowing in but the realisation that Australia was behind us, they had our back, they heard our cry for help and boy oh boy did they reach out. The orders, the emails and messages of support, the sharing. I even remember one woman ringing me saying she didn’t even have children in her life but she needed to buy something from me, anything just to help me!
September marks the fourth year I have been in my Kapunda store. Exciting times are ahead and I am looking forward to the next chapter of Wild Woodland Toys.
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