Partner Spotlight: Rachael Classi, Founder & CEO of Tiny Earth Toys
PlanToys Partner Spotlight: Rachael Classi, Founder & CEO of Tiny Earth Toys
PlanToys are available in retailers around the world. We're grateful that many small businesses and toy enthusiasts share in our passions for learning-based play, quality materials, and sustainable-minded manufacturing.
As manufacturers, we hold ourselves accountable for every item we bring into the world. We strive to reduce toy waste by producing heirloom-quality toys and inspiring our community members to shop with intention for their families, and the planet. With a rise in consumerism, we can't take on this challenge alone. This is why we partner with retailers who share our sustainable values.
With this, we introduce Tiny Earth Toys, a toy rental subscription company based in Durham, North Carolina. There was no question when the opportunity arose for PlanToys to partner with such an impactful company. Families who join the Tiny Earth community receive all the benefits of quality toys tailored to a child's interests and developmental stage without cluttering their homes or the planet. Tiny Earth Toys offers a wide variety of PlanToys in their carefully curated collection.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Rachael Classi, the founder and CEO of Tiny Earth. Rachael tells the story of how the company came to fruition and what makes Tiny Earth a true gem in the toy community.
Rachael, what sparked your interest in children's toys and inspired you to bring Tiny Earth to life?
While pregnant with my second daughter, I was celebrating Easter with family and friends. My two year old was enraptured. She walked away with seven Easter baskets from well-meaning family and friends. Six ended up in the trash. Fast forward a year and both my daughters were gifted subscription play and craft boxes. Our home became cluttered with a mountain of toys that, while thrilling for the short time they were developmentally appropriate, sat unused waiting for us to donate, regift, or discard. We are consuming more than our planet can bear. And it has become clear that our patterns of consumption begin at birth. Enter Tiny Earth. From the start, I partnered with early childhood, sustainability and child behavior experts to create a circular subscription toy kit. We are taking an uncompromising approach to learning, ensuring every toy is thoughtfully selected to provide age-appropriate development.
What is the process of renting toys with Tiny Earth?
Families can visit www.tinyearthtoys.com, fill out some information about their child’s age and interests, and see what their educator-curated kit looks like. From there, they can choose whether they want to swap anything out!
Every 2 months they have an opportunity to customize their next order before the toys show up.
Could you share Tiny Earth’s quality control process?
Our Quality Lead, Jairo calls this the Fun Factor. Tiny Earth’s quality control process starts with safety in mind; we ensure toys are safe, functional, and clean. We analyze previously collected information to improve safety and handling. Toys are unboxed in batches to assess uniformity and we perform a 360 inspection checking for breakages, defects, functional parts, and complete sets. If the toy meets all requirements then we begin the refurbishment process where toys are steam cleaned and sanitized with a vinegar based solution free of harmful chemicals.
We all adore our toys but face the hard truth that physical space plays a factor in our lives. We love how renting is the ideal solution to receive the benefits of many toys without the commitment of keeping them in our homes. What advice would you offer families who want to rent toys but also keep sentimental toys for the family's long-term collection?
For any families that fall in love with an item, they’re able to purchase them from their kit! We also understand that families receive toys as gifts, and like to purchase heirloom items. The Tiny Earth rental model fits in perfectly in lots of homes—we have customers who are minimalists and others who are home-schoolers!
What do you and the team love most about pre-loved toys? What makes them special compared to something that is new?
We believe that environmental stewards come in all sizes. Seeing so many families across the U.S. shift the paradigm of ownership is truly special. And, how cool that our community of families are passing along toys when they’re no longer needed?
What advice would you offer someone who is hesitant about welcoming pre-loved items into their lives?
As Jairo mentioned, we take our cleaning and care really seriously. We also sell storage baskets that make keeping your Tiny Earth rental toys separate from other items you own. We make exchanges super easy—return tape and prepaid labels are included in each kit.
Small changes lead to big impacts, for your home and the planet. We encourage everyone to give rentals a shot!
We’re thrilled to see such an increase in sustainably-minded shoppers over the years. Our community members are passionate about the manufacturing process, quality of materials, and purchasing with intention, not impulse. We love that Tiny Earth also shares these passions! What is the selection process you have for Tiny Earth’s collection?
Intention > impulse, love that. We’re thrilled to work with some incredible partners like you all at PlanToys, one of our most value-aligned brands. We work as a team to source, test, and curate our toys. We take quality, sustainability, and educational value into account. It’s not uncommon for us to bring toys home to the real experts—our little ones!
Besides reducing clutter in our personal lives, what are the worldly benefits of renting toys?
Our toys stay in use 4-5x longer than purchased toys, diverting 78lbs of plastic from the ocean and landfills per year!
What do you love most about the Tiny Earth community? Is there a specific story, or general feedback that you can share?
We’ve got an incredible community of caregivers. We recently heard from a customer who’s been a subscriber for a while, and wanted to increase her subscription to accommodate a newborn. It’s really cool that we’re starting to grow with families.
We recently heard this from a member on social: I also love your program because as a full-time Mom and not knowing what appropriate toys are for stages, you teach me and my kid! Thank youuuu.
More ways to learn about Tiny Earth Toys: