We Don't Make Toys.
We Make Toymakers.
Our passion is to create Toymaker kits that help you to connect deeply with your family and loved ones. We work hard to give you the tools to easily make gorgeous, eco-friendly, educational, and heirloom-quality toys; toys that tell the story of your love.
We want to help you send ‘Love Letters’ to your children…grandchildren… and great-great-grandchildren! We don’t believe that you are ‘just’ making toys. Through hundreds of invisible acts of love and sacrifice, you are already creating a foundation of love and support to help your loved ones thrive. We are here to help you make your invisible love visible, by creating literal and beautiful ‘building blocks’ that show the foundation of love, learning, play, and laughter on which you already work so hard to build your family.
Plus, we designed the toy-making to be easy, fun, and relaxing. So, grab your favorite drink, turn on some peaceful music and take some deep breaths while you make gorgeous toys. You deserve some time for YOU.
You have great love. Let us help you share it in beautiful, easy ways.
In February 2021, Special Forces officer Captain Aaron Lacey put on his dress uniform, walked into his commanders’ office, saluted that scowling warrior, and crisply said, “Sir. I am here to inform you that I am resigning from the military.” “What the h***,” grumbled the grizzled Green Beret behind the desk, tossing his paperwork to the side. “What are you throwing away your career in the SF to go do? Finance? Consulting?”
Aaron continued with a hint of a smile. “Toys, sir. I’m off to make toys.” His smile broadened at the dumbfounded look on the other man’s face. “My wife and I are starting up a Toymaker business. We are calling it ‘BridgeWood.’”
Ok… Ok… Perhaps that is a little dramatic.
My (Natalie’s) imagination whipped up that dramatic scene. From the sounds of it, Aaron more likely casually strolled in wearing his gym clothes, was waved in to congenially pull up a chair, and then may or may not have had a beer with the guy while he shared the big news. But that image is not very exciting; the first scene is how I prefer to imagine it all went down.
COVID had hit the year before that big moment. As terrible as that time was, the lockdowns had given us the time to have deep conversations about what we truly wanted out of life. Haunted by the statistic that children of Special Forces soldiers miss two-thirds of their children’s lives, we decided that it was time for daddy to leave the military. We both wanted the girls to grow up with their daddy, to tuck them into bed, read the stories and play silly games. I kind of like him myself; having him is the greatest gift! But both of us still wanted to serve; now, in a different way.
We just needed a bridge to get us to our dream of staying together as a family.
The First Toys
Aaron walked outside towards me, carrying the baby. He smiled, reaching out to brush sawdust off my hair. “Almost finished?” he asked, picking up one of the colorful blocks on the table. I watched as he inspected it, turning it over to show the baby. It had been over a month of COVID lockdown, and I had been busy making toys, dreaming of when I could teach my sweet girl the alphabet while we stacked rainbow castles together. Proud, I watched as she grinned at the toy. Then, before he could stop her, she lunged forward and started chewing.
“Oh, NO!” I shouted, taking back the toy I had spent so long making. My paint-streaked finger traced the fresh, tiny teeth marks. “Oh! I worked so hard!”
Aaron’s hand rested on my shoulder. “It’s not ruined, sweetheart.” He cupped his hand under my chin. “That toy is going to last for generations, right?” He smiled. “Just think of those tiny scrapes as a memory of this moment.” And he leaned down to kiss me while the baby giggled and reached out to play with my hair.
“Toys.” We were cuddling on the couch a month later, trying to figure life out. I was holding an alphabet block, watching as the baby sat playing with the toys I had made for her. I lifted it to show Aaron. “What if we help people make toys for their loved ones?” Looking up at him, I continued, “I bet we can find a way to make it fast and easy. Something designed to last. And beautiful! Toys that can be Made-With-Love and that they pass down for generations. People can make the toys that help their children to learn, laugh, and grow.”
“Maybe we won’t change the world in a huge, dramatic way by making toys. But I KNOW we can make a small difference by helping people love each other in a way that will last for a long time. No act of love is ever wasted. Let’s help people love each other.”
Aaron leaned back, thinking. Silence stretched, filling the minutes until the baby broke it with her giggles. He popped an eye open and looked at me, grinning as he said,
“Let’s do it.”
Living On A Prayer
We like to think that we, the Lacey family, were one of the very first cool kids to kick off the Great Resignation to pursue our dreams.
We had a steady paycheck. We left it behind.
We had a beautiful home in a glamorous, foreign country. We left it behind.
We had security, stability, and benefits. We left it behind.
All to make a calculated, exhilarating, and very SCARY risk to build BridgeWood in the middle of a pandemic, a looming recession, a brutal housing market, and with two very small children!
Greeted by that nasty housing market and childcare crisis on our return back to the states, we have been building BridgeWood from our parent’s basements, bouncing (or nursing!) our little girls on our knees during business meetings, and getting most of our work done while they sleep during the wee, black hours of the night. So if you happen to drive past us in our old, white minivan, you might see Aaron and me holding hands and HOWLING Bon Jovi’s ‘LIVING ON A PRAAYYYYYYEEERRRR’ through the open windows.
We left the military life for the chance to be together as a family, to grow in love, joy, and work together. Our sincere hope is that our toys can help you, the Toymaker, also grow in love for your loved ones.
No act of love is ever wasted.
Thank you for joining us on this journey. We’d love to hear your stories of how your toys bring smiles to your loved ones’ faces. Share your story here!