Meet My Team
Meet the Team behind MDH Toys!
Professional Artist/Toy Designer: 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
Woodwork: Shane Handfield
My husband Shane provides most of our woodwork labour including wood turning, scroll saw work, power routering, skill saw work and jig saw work.
When he is not at his day job or helping me out by cutting out pieces for my toy designs, he can be found helping out with the kids and doing laundry or working in the garden.
Little known fact: He taught himself woodworking by watching youtube videos, which is absolutely amazing!
Special Mentions of Production Assistance:
Plenty of hands also help out our little company. Thank you to the following who occasionally also turn my designs into woodwork for me to paint and finish:
Walter K. (Prairie Creations)