Handmade MinkaPacks sized just right for toddlers
It’s no secret that children love having a special place of their own to keep their treasures. With four boys of her own, Becky Schulz knows this well. She has always felt there was a lack of cute bags available for boys to carry.
“My boys’ first backpacks were very small, Pooh Bear plastic packs that they could fit a few things in and loved to carry around,” says Schulz.”I think kids love to be able to have their own bag and choose what they carry around with them.”
In Schulz’s family, there are now nine grandsons and one granddaughter. All of the children call their grandmother ‘Minka,’ which is short for ‘Maminka,’ a Czech endearment for Mommy. When she saw a bag her sister had made for her son, she thought backpacks would be a fun to make too. The endearing Minka name and the thought of the children having a special bag to take their favorite items to Grandma’s house led to calling their version a MinkaPack.
About a year ago, Schulz started making diaper bags for two of her sisters and also made an Amy Butler Cosmo bag for her mother, Deborah Rutt.
“Their bags started to get noticed and they encouraged me to make more.”
Rutt recently took a few months off of work, and stayed with her daughter’s family for some time.
“My mother’s been sewing her whole life and was a tremendous help to me with the bags I was working on,” says Schulz. “While she was here, we started exploring the little backpacks. As a grandmother, my mom is always looking for cute, original gifts and these really appealed to her as perfect gifts for all of her grandchildren.”
The pair spent some time developing a pattern that worked for toddlers and included extra things like pockets. The bags are 9 ¼” wide, 13” tall, and 4” deep, just big enough for a child’s favorite things, but not overwhelming in size for a toddler.
Other features include pockets on the outside for water bottles or other items, a pocket on the inside just in case mommy needs to send a note along to Grandma or teacher, strong yet comfortable straps that fit a toddlers shoulders, and sturdy construction that will last. (The fabric is interfaced and the bag is totally lined).
“The number one comment people make about our bags is how well they’re made and that seems to set them apart from other handmade bags,” she says. “Making unique but durable items is one of our main objectives.”
And let’s not forget the adorable fabric selections.
“There are so many of unique children’s fabrics out there, that it seemed natural to incorporate them into this design,” says Schulz. “The most fun part of this project really is picking out which ones to work with. We spend a great deal of time searching for one of a kind fabrics that we feel will be appealing and speak to all that is awesome when you’re a child.”
The bags take a couple of days to make and many of the fabrics they find are produced in limited quantities, so they may not make more than a few bags in each fabric.
“I think every child dreams of being a cowboy or of the wild west, loves trains at some point, or listens to the story of little red riding hood,” says Schulz. “I think these little backpacks give you that feeling – of finding something that was such a part of our dreams when we were young.”
Schulz’s childhood memories also inspired the name of their company, Tidy Little Hedgehog.
“There is a book that was a favorite when we were young called The Untidy Little Hedgehog,” she says. “It’s a very cute book, but my husband suggested we should be ‘tidy’ hedgehogs. So we became Tidy Little Hedgehog.”
Rutt drew up the little hedgehog for the shop’s logo.
Schulz’s sister Christa Kileff took the logo and created fabric stickers for the inside of the MinkaPacks. Schulz plans to create fabric labels that will be sewn onto the inside of the backpacks. Future plans also include adding a few more products, including cute clothes for boys, as well as more diaper and handbag designs.
Photos provided by Becky Schulz.