Made With Love [TERRA WOODS INTERVIEW]
Natural wooden toys represent a direct connection to the earth. Safe, timeless, tactile, durable, quiet, less distracting and more interactive than plastic toys, they promote play, improve hand-eye coordination, and build fine motor skills. They don’t come with bells and whistles. They may not get the oohs and aahs at the birthday party. And they can be more expensive. But they come with more value – they are built to last. The ones made by Wild Creek are designed to go where your child goes and grow where your child grows. Founder Terra Wood, a Fayetteville native, shares the story of how Wild Creek came to be and how it expanded to include books, puzzles, games, and other educational tools. To Terra, wooden toys naturally fit into a peaceful, connected home — one that nurtures big imaginations and supports family time.
Anna: Tell us a little bit about Wild Creek + how it came to be.
Terra: I began Wild Creek in 2015 when I was pregnant with my second child. It began as a handmade pacifier clip and rattle shop. As my children grew and I developed a passion for slow, handmade toys, I felt it was time to expand the shop to include this passion. So, in fall 2019, we transitioned to become a well-rounded toy store that stocks handmade toys from around the world. [Our toys are mostly wooden + sustainably sourced.]
AC: What sets Wild Creek apart from other toy retailers + brands?
TW: Intention and heart. When I transitioned Wild Creek last year, I knew I wanted it to be more than just a website you go to for a birthday present. I wanted it to be a space to come and experience growth of heart and mind, make a meaningful connection with me and other like-minded parents, and purchase something you know is made well by someone who is paid well for their efforts.
AC: What values do you have in mind when selecting vendors for your shop?
TW: Our main focus at Wild Creek is vendors who have small teams that are paid well, use sustainable efforts to make their goods, and make something of beauty and value.
AC: Tell us about your two littles, Fox + Esme.
TW: Fox is a fire spirit who has a beautiful passion for the earth and its animals. At the age of 2, after a brief passion for dinosaurs, he became focused on saving endangered animals and that’s still his passion at 5. Esmé is peaceful and strong. She is a natural comedian, storyteller and uplifter of souls. She’s quick with a compliment and has a naturally gracious heart. Both of my children have taught me so much about being true to my own self and pushing boundaries of what I thought I could do + who I thought I could be. They have opened my heart to love in a deeper and richer way. I am ever thankful for how loving them has brought me to a place of more compassion and love for myself and humanity as a whole.
AC: What are some of the joys + challenges blending business with motherhood?
TW: The biggest joy for me is that my children see me working at something I am passionate about. I love that they can see first-hand what it’s like to love what you do, as I hope the same for them. I love that they see me pour bits of my heart into my work. I am able to talk to them about what we are doing to be good stewards of the earth and the people + animals who live on it. The biggest challenge is that I am a mama first, and I have to fit in work at odd times like evenings and weekends. It’s tough during sales and busier seasons when I have to work more, and it’s hard for them to understand when I can’t be there as often as normal. Even so, I think it will be good for them in the long run to see my efforts for our family and for myself.
AC: How does your own parenting style inform the direction of Wild Creek?
TW: It has been a goal of mine from the very beginning to promote peace and family connection in the home. We believe this goal supports human beings who will seek peace and justice in the world, and we source toys that we feel help support those ideas. We source open-ended toys that promote big imaginations, games that support family time, books that bring connection between parent and child, and puzzles and blocks that support a focused and spacious mind. Instead of a plastic toy that makes you cringe when the noise button is pressed repeatedly, a simple set of wooden blocks will bring peace in touch and connection as you settle in to stack with your child or simply read close by as your child works on a structure of their own. There is no underestimating what providing a peaceful environment in the structure and soul of your home can do for a child’s spirit.
AC: What’s your advice to other mamas out there who may have a desire to start their own businesses?
TW: Find something you love and make sure you have the support of your loved ones. Anything worth doing is worth doing well, and if you don’t have the support of your partner and a deep passion for your business, you will find yourself quickly burned out. I am still often up in the middle of the night with my children, but because I find so much joy in my work, I find the emails and other daily tasks of my job manageable. My partner also gives me ample time to myself to recoup and do the things I need to do to be able to mother and work well, for which I am eternally grateful. Without his support, there is no way Wild Creek would run in any capacity. My other advice for starting a business while mothering is to let it flow at the pace of your mothering. I have let my business slowly evolve and grow over time. When my children were very small, my business was also very small. The amount of orders I maintained weekly was not very many but it felt like a lot to me at the time, and it really was because it was all I could handle. I continue to pour into the business only what I can handle in terms of growth. When both of my children are fully in school, I will begin to pour more into it and anticipate more growth at that time. This strategy has proven to be best for me as a mother. I can look back on each stage of my children’s development and know I was able to be fully present with them and still work toward my goals. It has also helped to keep my eyes from wandering to other businesses and mothers with jealousy or envy. When I know I am doing what is right for our family and our growth, I can maintain my own trajectory and know our path is beautiful without comparison.
AC: Favourite piece of advice or quote regarding motherhood?
TW: “Do small things with great love.” – Mother Teresa. Motherhood is love in a million tiny moments + a million small choices — choosing to sit and read a book with your child even though you just want to nap on the couch because you were up with the baby all night, pushing your toddler on the swing at the park and tickling little toes to get that giggle again instead of checking your phone and zoning out. Sometimes, I ache after I put my children to bed, negative self-talk fills me and tears come because I feel I am not the mother I wish to be. But when I pause and give myself the opportunity to look back at my day, I can see the true beauty in the small moments and see the choices I made, all of the good ones, and I find rest in the peace of my mothering and the unique love I pour into my children.