Most baby blocks are of the basic (read: boring) variety. But the ones that Kristin Smith makes are incredibly beautiful, with an aesthetic that is at once timeless and feminine. We spoke to Smith (who is also a paramedic!) about her Lena and Lovely collection, how her grandmother Nena influenced her, and her hopes for the future.
How did you get started making the baby blocks?
I was always into crafts. My grandmother Nena, whom my daughter is named after, was the craftiest person ever! She made everything for us. When I was a little girl, I always loved helping her.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I was home a lot. I’m a paramedic, and I work in an emergency room. I couldn’t work in the ER while I was pregnant. It was during the wintertime, and I kept thinking to myself, “What am I going to do?” I got into making crafts again, and somehow started making baby blocks. People loved them, so it was a good incentive for me to keep on going!
Your line has a definite affinity towards girly things.
Since I had my daughter, I’ve gone crazy for girl stuff! I love pink; I’m obsessed with it.
What’s your inspiration behind the line?
I love the vintage look. I think Shabby Chic products are just beautiful.
Let’s talk a bit about the blocks. How do you make them?
They’re all made by hand. They’re my absolute favorite. It’s a long process to make them, though. There’s lots of measuring, cutting, gluing, and glazing. I also sand the blocks to give them a vintage look. It takes a long time — sometimes I have to repeat some steps — but it’s worth it. I’m so anal; I want every piece to look perfect, and I think they’re so cute.
Since babies put everything in their mouth, let’s talk a bit about safety.
The blocks are glazed with a non-toxic water-based glaze. They are totally safe, but it’s not recommended for teething!
What new products are coming up?
I started making onesies with cupcakes on them. They’re so cute. I got a sewing machine so I also started making playsets for girls. Little girls like playing with fake food, so I created a baking playset. Each set is made out of felt, and it includes cookies that have beads on them for sprinkles, cream-colored felt that’s supposed to be cookie dough, and cookie cutters.
Where can people purchase items from Lena and Lovely?
I have a store on Etsy where people can buy the products. I’m also in the process of selling some items in a store in Manhattan.
What are your plans for the future?
My husband made me a craft room, and ever since then, I’ve been working on the line day and night! It’s hard with two kids (my son Sam, is 2 1/2, and Angelina is only 8 months old.). My husband is a city fireman, and with me being a paramedic, there’s not a lot of time. I love doing Lena and Lovely, though, and the response to the line has been amazing. I’m sure it’s going to become a full-time career for me.