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Ledyard couple crafts custom wooden toys

Ledyard — What started out as a joke in the Strand household has turned into a successful toy business with fans overseas.

For Felix Too, named after the youngest member of the family, offers custom-painted wooden peg dolls and handmade vehicles for them. Owner Lindsay Strand said the name came from the idea that "the toys are for you and for Felix, too." They have their own website at as well as an Instagram page where she posts completed designs.

"My husband used to joke around with me that I have my 'craft of the month' addiction, so I would go around and find all kinds of different crafts and I would master them, complete a project and then get bored with them, and then I'd move onto the next thing the next month," Strand said. "At the time, Felix was really little, so I was interested in making toys for him. I had made some crocheted toys for him and different things like that, and then I saw on Pinterest these little wooden dolls."

She thought they were very cute and made a few for her son, and she decided to start making some for her existing online Etsy shop to see if her customers would like them. She started selling the dolls in the fall of 2018, and they "just blew up."

The doll forms come premade, and Strand adds additional wooden features such as ears and hats before painting them. She said she comes up with some of the ideas, whereas others come from custom orders, and the painting process takes about two hours per doll. Her husband, Matt, makes the vehicles, ranging from cars and canoes to 12-seat vans and firetrucks.

Some of the original designs include sets of animals as well as holiday and fairytale characters. Recently, Strand designed a Moana set and has been working on prince dolls to go with the shop's princess collection. She also does personalized family portrait dolls based on submitted photos.

"I like the original designs because they're the first ones we ever did and they remain best sellers," she said. "Any kind of first responders, firefighters, policemen, those are really popular, and I like those ones too because we have the cars that go with them so it makes a really nice set."

She said she's gotten hundreds of orders since she first opened, and that includes a six-month break last year when she temporarily stopped selling. Every once in a while they'll get an order from someone local, but she ships around the world; she said she has a lot of orders coming from the United Kingdom.

Felix, who turns 3 this summer, plays with all the old prototype dolls that Strand used to keep as a reference for future dolls. His most recent favorite is a Team Umizoomi set she made for him.

"The process of making the pegs is not just painting but it's working in the woodshop, it's sewing on the sewing machine, it's the photography aspect," Strand said. "It kind of encompasses all of those 'craft of the month' type of things I like to do but into one project."


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