Supporting health and wellness, especially that of our children, is utterly fundamental. Natural Pod designs and executes learning spaces that support students in learning differently to gain the skills to drive innovation of the future. We are honoured to be a long standing partner and to announce a special collaboration collection: Better Together.
Four values-driven companies (Natural Pod, Chop Value, Unbuilders, and b, halfmoon) have come together to create the Better Together Partnership Collection, designed to create warm and welcoming learning spaces. Materials range from recycled chopsticks, reclaimed lumber, and linen textiles.
With the intention of creating better learning environments for students and educators, we've come together to create a mixed-material collection of foundational elements that offer a welcoming sense of home in learning environments.
To celebrate the launch of the collection, we had the chance to sit down with Natural Pod's CEO Bridgette Alomes to speak about the launch partners, purpose alignment and yoga in learning environments.
Tell us about Natural Pod and your mission.
Over ten years ago, my son had an adverse reaction to a toy in his learning environment from toxic chemicals. Before that experience I didn’t think too much about where his toys came from or what they were made of, but going through that experience was a catalyst for me. I wanted to make things better for my own family, and families within my community.
As we began to explore what the healthiest, quality materials were for our children’s toys and learning spaces, the reality was that the materials we were seeking did not exist. There were no non-toxic materials that offered connection to the outdoors (when we know we must often be indoors), and there were no elements that spoke to the open-ended play that our children need to thrive and learn about the world around them.
This was the call to action that propelled Natural Pod into existence. Our framework is rooted in having intentional conversation with the true end users of the space, about the learning that needs to take place within, and how we can support those activities with meaningful choices.
Using in-house design, build, and product partnerships, we provide environments that enhance the well-being and education of students. Our commitment to invest in sustainable materials and practices is fundamental to our support of children, community and planet—and our aim is for every student to learn and play in healthy, beautiful, and inspiring learning environments.
Can you share with our community how b, halfmoon and Natural Pod began working together?
I met the b, halfmoon founders about eight years ago at SVI Hollyhock on Cortes Island—a big-hearted, socially minded ecosystem of people who are using business as a force for good. That space attracts people who care about humanity and the planet, and see the urgent need for significant social change. I shared with them my desire to bring in soft, flexible materials to a learning environment that allowed a child to choose what to build, and what to create with, and I learned more about b, halfmoon’s history, product design, materials. This synergy, and my personal love for yoga, was a wonderful alignment and we’ve been working together ever since.
In your company bio, there’s a great section where you say: “As we enter a new era of learning where collaboration and cooperation drive innovation, education environments need to reflect this change.” Can you tell us more about that? What changes are you seeing and how does Natural Pod support that change?
Today there is a deeper emphasis on health and wellness; on learning spaces that encourage children to explore open-ended play; and finding ways that the learning space encourages collaboration, cooperation, and builds critical thinking skills from a young age. Students who learn in these spaces will drive innovation of the future; they will be the change-makers. If anything, the last two years especially have really encouraged us to slow down—to pause. To get out more in nature, and have reminded us to learn more about integrating the outdoors into our indoor spaces. Building spaces that bring us comfort and peace, that promote holistic health.
This is an exciting time in the evolution of Natural Pod. Our Better Together initiative connects our ethos and the need to create beautiful, durable, and sustainable materials specifically for the benefit of children and educators. The past few years have taught us that we can create mindful solutions when we do things together.
We’re so thrilled to be part of the Better Together initiative. Can you tell us how you selected the brands for it?
Better Together brings together four values-driven companies based in British Columbia, Canada – b, halfmoon, ChopValue, Unbuilders, and Natural Pod – to create a mixed-material collection of foundational elements that creates a warm and welcoming learning environment. When we say values-driven, this reflects each company's ethos and dedication to environmental impact, connectivity to nature, accountability, and commitment to local manufacturing right here in British Columbia. There’s an element of beauty in these products and designs these companies create and adds to the conversation that Natural Pod always asks: where did this come from, what is it made of, and what else can it be?
One of the bundles we’ve put together for the collection focuses on yoga goods for kids. Can you tell us how you see yoga and mindfulness fitting into education environments?
The benefits of yoga and mindfulness have been examined and written about extensively—as well as the benefits of incorporating movement into children’s daily life. Why do adults do yoga? It allows us to pause, reflect, and really get in touch with ourselves without distraction of the outside world—providing physical, flexibility benefits and more. It’s a wonderful practice of mindfulness to start at an early age and continue through adulthood—to learn about self regulation and connection to oneself. For a child, yoga provides an opportunity to reduce stress, and supports challenging situations in the classroom by providing a physical outlet for children to get into their bodies and express themselves. It can improve concentration, enhance confidence, and improve calmness.
Any tips you can provide to help parents set the scene at home?
Whether you’re in a learning environment or at home—it doesn't have to be in an educational setting—having a space that inspires you, has intention, and is made up of materials that allow for open ended play is what we see as the goal.
In your home space, get down on the ground with your children, and use these materials and pieces in creative ways. Help your children understand what else each can be. Can you see the yoga items as not JUST for yoga? What else can they be? A yoga block can be a building block. Cushions can be used in a fort. You can create your own sofa-style seating. A yoga mat can be a magical carpet, or a surfboard. What else can each item be? How can you use them together?
When considering a space, really think about: is it a place that offers an invitation to interact with it? Are you using it in different ways to model that for the children in your home?
Click here to learn more and discover the collection.