Appleton-based toymaker Lisa Thunder has revolutionized the market by creating toys that are fun for children, yet aesthetically pleasing for parents. Her product line, The Homespun Market, is classic, modern and soft, yet refined with a vintage flair.
Thunder, a mom of four by day and toy designer by night, creates unique toy food meant to encourage children to imitate their parents while exploring their imagination through a raw, hands-on approach.
One fall afternoon while Thunder was in the kitchen making pasta, her daughter, who was pretending to cook with her own play food, asked if she could make pasta too. Since she did not have toy pasta, Thunder took to her creative side and sewed up pasta from felt. From there, she started designing other foods and began selling them on her Etsy shop. “It’s a lot of fun really,” Thunder says. “It’s a great stay-at-home job for Mom where I can work more with my kids. I’m having a lot of fun with this!”
Thunder combines inspiration from her children with her polished sewing skills to transform felt into a campfire and s’mores play set, a Thanksgiving feast, and classic play snacks like milk with cookies and ice cream. Thunder has gone further by turning play food into toys that are not commonly seen, like sushi (complete with chopsticks), fortune cookies and even popcorn. The Thanksgiving holiday play set features a whole turkey with detachable parts, a slice of pumpkin pie, a basket of veggies and even a corn on the cob that can be removed from the husk.
Thunder’s contemporary, sophisticated style has appealed to a high end audience throughout the nation. She was recently asked to be a part of the Martha Stewart Made in America Collection, and both her s’mores set and milk and cookies set will be spotlighted on her new Amazon store just in time for the holidays.
Thunder takes customization requests for the upcoming holidays, but will be limiting her handmade orders as the holiday season approaches. “I always joke at Christmas, but it’s like I’m an elf,” Thunder shares. “It’s nice to know that there are kids everywhere who are having fun and playing with something that I made.”
Find some of Thunder’s work at The Trout Museum of Art gift shop in Appleton or at thehomespunmarket.com.