Meet Our Team
The driving force behind M.D Handfield Designs Inc. is husband and wife team Miriam and Shane Handfield.
Toy Designer & Artist: Miriam Handfield
I was taught at an early age to knit, sew and embroider and do all sorts of other various crafts. As I grew older, I developed a love for designing and painting. After high school I received my Interior Design Technologist with Distinction diploma at NAIT (Edmonton, AB) and worked in the interior design industry for 10 years.
After a marriage, 3 children and a diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder of my youngest son, I decided to stay home and open my own handcraft business. My first 5 years at markets were selling painted birdhouses, hair clips and jewelry.
One day, that all changed. At a farmers market full of jewelry sellers, I heard a young boy tell his mother that there were never any products at craft fairs or markers for little boys.
That really hit home and I took some time off to do product research and to familiarize myself with Canadian & American toy manufacturing laws and toy safety laws.
Armed with new designs, I recruited a team of independent woodworkers and wood turners to help turn my designs from sketches into wooden toys. They send these pieces back to me, ready for me to paint. I love the personal touches I get to do while painting by brush with acrylic paint.
When my middle child was diagnosed with autism, I searched for tactile quality wooden educational toys to assist him with hands on learning. Because he had a lot of accidents with spilling milk or juice plus he still mouthed his toys, I needed something that was high quality yet safe to put in his mouth. There was nothing available in
Canada except for big brand name toys with paper fronts or made in China products that were possibly toxic. The only option I had was to design and make items for his education.
When I showed his occupational therapist, speech therapists and physiologist what I was creating for his learning, they made inquiries and purchases from me for other families with special needs children. This steered my toy making company in the direction of creating heirloom quality educational learning toys for toddler through grade 2.
A few fun facts about me:
As a mom of a preteen with autism, a teenager and a preschooler, life is never dull and I never know what my kids are going to get me into whether volunteering for being on the board of the local football team, driving around collecting bottles for the local cadet squadron or going to and from library reading programs.
My business is where I find sanity and personal balance as well as enjoying creativity. Often your orders are done in the wee hours of the night and on any available weekend I have around kids activities.
I am most creative on the days of the full moon, love watching thunderstorms and if I wasn't an artist I would probably be a long haul trucker
Woodworker & Helpmate: Shane Handfield
Just an amazing guy all around, this is probably why I married him. He is my main woodworker who takes my toy designs and creates wooden pieces for me to paint. Whether on the wood lathe, scroll saw or CNC machine, he is self taught and meticulous about his work.
No longer able to work from our garage due to home insurance not allowing manufacturing being done in the home but determined not to give up, Shane has found a way to keep up with the woodworking and now works out of various DIY woodworking shops in the Edmonton, AB region cutting and wood turning pieces for educational toy sets.