INTERVIEWS

5 Questions with Allie from Rose & Rex

Rose & Rex is full to the brim with the type of toys we love! Beautiful items that bring out the creativity in our children – toys that can be played with in different ways every day, by all ages, for years on end. Almost as much fun as the toys she sells, is founder Allie, whom we were lucky enough to meet last year. We wanted to get to know Allie, and understand her philosophy, that much better — so we asked her 5 questions and she kindly answered.

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Allie Klein, the founder of Rose & Rex. I’m a life-long New Yorker who loves the energy of city life, but I also crave the ocean and listening to the waves. I currently live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with my husband Jason and our puppy Leo! When I’m not working on Rose & Rex, you can usually find me playing dress-up with my niece and nephew, drinking matcha in Central Park, or exploring new restaurants. Before starting Rose & Rex I earned my master’s degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education and was a pre-school teacher and play-based tutor. I deeply believe in the power of play-based learning and how essential it is to all children’s development. Since I’m still a big kid at heart, this is the perfect job for me!

2. Tell us a little bit about your shop and how you came to create it. It’s a special place!

Thank you so much! Rose and Rex was dreamed up during my years as a teacher. I fell in love with the imagination and creativity my students brought into the classroom when play was connected to learning. After observing how play could organically support children’s social, cognitive, emotional and physical development — and that playtime was rapidly getting cut from school curriculums —, I was eager to build a brand that would start a larger conversation about our culture’s approach to learning. I recognized that not everyone saw the value of play the same way I did. People tend to see play and learning as opposites rather than deeply connected complements. With this in mind, I created Rose and Rex to be a refreshing, imaginative toy boutique and play resource. Our toy collection is entirely open-ended and curated by teachers to ensure well-rounded skill building, plus it’s design-focused and eco-conscious. We want to offer special, thoughtful pieces that grow with your children, and even get passed down to their children for generations of play. Core to our brand’s DNA is our social mission, so for every purchase we give back to a likeminded organization.

3. Your shop exclusively offers toys that encourage creative play. How do you go about selecting your products?

I work with a group of teachers and child development experts to select our toys. As you said, we only sell open-ended toys that encourage imaginative and creative play and facilitate learning. Open-ended toys means that they offer more than one possible use and come to life with a child’s imagination. They engage rather than entertain—no battery-operated or directive toys here! We’re all about valuing the creative process over producing a “result.” Next, we look for toys of heirloom quality made from eco-friendly, kid-safe materials, like plant-based rubbers and responsibly sourced woods. We never sell toys that contain plastic. We also support local designers, small-batch artists and small businesses whenever possible. Our last standard is that each toy is design-focused, attractive, and fun. We want parents to be thrilled to have our toys scattered across the living room floor!

4. What one piece of advice would you give to a parent looking to buy an ideal toy for their child?

I may sound like a broken record, but the number one piece of advice I give is to choose open-ended toys because they facilitate the most robust skill building and also mature with the child. We’ve all experienced the frustration of watching a child lose interest in a new toy after a week. Open-ended toys, like a beautifully constructed block set, transform to meet the developmental needs of a child as he or she grows.

5. What do you love most about your job?

This is a tough one because I love so many things about running Rose and Rex. I’d start with having the opportunity to meet and form friendships with so many wonderful people, from local friends to folks across the world. We’re in our first year, and the support and love that we have received from our new community fills me with gratitude. I also love working on our social mission #PlayItForward, where we partner with and support charitable organizations, such as Second Chance Toys, that share our belief in a children’s right to play and play on a healthy planet. All start-ups have learning curves but overall it’s a joy, whether I’m testing out a toy, meeting an artist, preparing 1,000 confetti balloons, or having a conversation with a parent about why play matters. I love every minute!

Rose & Rex are one of the wonderful boutiques joining us at the LA ShopUp on April 23 & 24! Come and meet Allie and shop her fabulous range of inspiring toys!


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Comments (4)

Annie from Brimful
March 21, 2017

Three cheers for Allie! Love her philosophy and shop – Mei Mei loves her wooden rainbow bean set from Rose + Rex!


Johanna
March 21, 2017

This sounds just amazing! So inspiring!!


Mary Grace
March 23, 2017

Love your philosophy Allie!! And all of your toys! Xo


April 20, 2017

[…] Allie told us about herself and how she came to create Rose and Rex here – so […]


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