In The Play Lab: Inorog The Label
Teodora was one the first toymakers I befriended over Instagram. As someone who was just stepping into the curation game, I deeply connected with her toy company Inorog The Label — after all it’s all about creating minimalistic plush play things for maximum imaginative play. Back when I only had an itsy-bitsy following, Teodora made posting on Instagram much less daunting. She liked all of my posts and I liked all of hers ❤️. More yet, I learned that Teodora was actually my age, and seeing a young woman thrive in the toy industry gave me so much hope and encouragement. Role models are important, but seeing someone ‘just like you’ slay is just as empowering.
Working with her partner in life, Teodora and Mihai create handmade heirloom-quality toys for children to enjoy for years on end. They source all of their materials locally from Romania. It’s no surprise that Inorog The Label is distinctly beautiful considering that Teodora is an architect with a graphic and branding design background, and Mihai’s comes from an industrial tapestry & textiles background (alongside freelance photography work). These two have a fine eye for strong design and the necessary skills for quality craftsmanship. Their process of creation is unique — a few years ago Teodora and Mihai introduced an embroidery machine to their repertoire. This has allowed them to step it up with their designs as they are now able to create original patterns that elevate their toys to a true design classic. They also do silk screen printing on their toys which adds a modern twist.
Let me be clear, Inorog The Label toys aren’t only beautiful displays for the home and nursery, they are cleverly designed to maximize the impact of play for your children. Take their classic plush Mousey for example, it’s the ultimate soft canvas for children’s imaginations. Literally, your little one can paint on it.
I find the Mousey to be a truly empowering toy for a child because it allows them to give life, character and personality to a toy in a real and permanent way. Yes crafts are great but paper is fleeting, with proper care a plush pal lasts for ages. Giving children an opportunity to take what is in their heads and transform it into a tangible reality is priceless.
Remember how empowering it was when you’d go to a ceramics painting birthday party? I recall the experience of painting on a mug that I could actually drink from everyday being incredibly powerful because it served as a daily reminder that I made something of my own and it had a real place in my life. Now imagine if your child could feel like this about a play companion they have in their day-to-day. Teodora agrees with this sentiment, “I think children need a lot more toys that offer them this kind of interaction, that can stimulate their imaginative process of perceiving the objects around them. This toy can be 'molded' by those little hands and can show them different perspectives by creating unique interpretations of the same blank ‘canvas’."
I have a confession to make: While I completely understand the power of the Mousey, I personally could not bring myself to paint on it. I was so touched by the beauty of this handmade creation it was extremely difficult for me to even consider painting on it. Every time I would try to paint on it a little voice would creep into the back of my mind asking me why I would ever attempt to 'mess up' Teodora’s and Mihai’s artistry. As adults, I think we go into a preservation mode whether it’s our health, the things we own or our families. Suddenly — we don’t want to shake the boat. But children are all about shaking the boat because that is how they experience the world and ultimately learn!
It seems like I’m not alone in this thinking. I asked Teodora whether other parents had reservations about painting on the Mousey as well and she said that in many cases they did; however, once they got over their fear of ruining the toy and handed it over to their kids to take control it was a magical and liberating process for the children. I completely believe this. Let’s not forget — this toy is for children at the end of the day, and that’s all that matters.
So while I still can’t bring myself to paint on the Mousey personally, I'm more than excited to pass the torch on to my little one who won’t have the filters and roadblocks in place of making things their own. I can’t wait for this heirloom toy to be their best friend for fighting off scary monsters and having fancy tea parties.
This toy is the perfect gift for creative children who are active participants in creative play. I will caution that the Mousey is for children over the age of 3 and I would recommend it for children who are gentle with their stuffed pals as the toy is held together by string in the back.