Jessica Hipp brought a box of her handmade felt toys to our interview at a coffee shop in north Raleigh the other week.
As she pulled out the items - a felt BLT sandwich, a green Hulk mask, a little bag of tortillas, among others, the women next to our table stopped their own conversation to exclaim about just how cute they are. They oohed and aahed over her other little replicas of popsicles, ravioli, a crown, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, dress-up dolls - all made from felt.
They are absolutely adorable. Made by Mom Gift Guide: Jessica Hipp Designs
Hipp, a mom of one in Creedmoor, recognizes that she's just a little bit "felt addicted," as she told me. But it's all for her toddler son. She started making the playthings for him back in August. She was looking for simple toys that allowed for creative play, but also stood up to toddler play.
She landed on felt, a forgiving fabric that doesn't require seams, is washable and will stick together. When friends saw her creations, they wanted some too. And that's how Jessica Hipp Designs was born.
"It just kind of took off from there," she tells me.
Hipp said she's always preferred simple toys made with natural products to the plastic variety with lots of lights and buttons. It's the same philosophy she used when she was working with children with autism, which she did before her son was born.
"I think imaginative play is really important because it gives kids the foundation for all of the skills they need," she said.
The business, which, for now, is run through Facebook, is growing steadily. She's shipped items as far as Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Dakota and Wisconsin. She's not sure what the future holds (other than a lot of felt). But she's thrilled to learn that other kids love her toys as much as her son does.
"I want to make stuff for my son and if it sells to other people, great," she said. "If I can create something cool that other kids want to play with, I think that's pretty awesome."
For more about Jessica Hipp Designs and to order some of her creations, check her Facebook page.
We're featuring the moms and dad of Go Ask Mom's Made by Mom Gift Guide on weekdays through early December. Check back tomorrow for the next feature.