At Hamden Fest, Wilting Flower Company displayed soft and colorful animals ranging from sea creatures to buzzing bees. These handmade toys are more than just adorable cuddle buddies. In fact, Tyler Ford created this business with a mission in mind, “I found a gap in the market for soft toys that were not so overstimulating. For, specifically people who are a typical neurodivergent, everything that I design, crocheted, and hand sewn is designed to be, again, not overstimulating, just ready to grab and hug and squeeze and is easy to look at.” Furthermore, Ford gives materials a new life by using fabrics from closed businesses. Instead of throwing away second-hand materials, Ford is able to create adorable toys with them.
Wilting Flower recently started making 3D printed items and helps the environment with their products by using PLA plastic and saving all scrap pieces to be reused. Ford says, “The 3D printed toys are sold in partnership with my brother, and at the time we didn't have a business name for that, so I was just selling them under Wilting Flower Company.”
Ford enjoys making toys for those who can be overstimulated easily. Some kids will immediately run up to the plush toys and anyone can tell that they connect with the toy very well. One specific interaction really hit home for the business owner, “last summer a very obviously nonverbal girl just ran in and started playing with everything. And it was a really touching experience” Ford said, “ever since then, everything I make is basically for her.”
Each plush animal takes Ford about 2 hours to make and the crochet animals take anywhere from 40-60 minutes. Ford clearly puts a lot of thought into the toys to ensure that children who are neurodivergent are comfortable and enjoying themselves. Ford explains a long piece of yarn seen on some of the creatures, “it's supposed to be reminiscent of an umbilical cord. So when babies are in the womb they'll tangle their fingers in it and it'll be like a stimulation thing, and I like doing that for my Octopus.”
In contrast to toys like dolls that have some porcelain parts and other soft parts, the toys at Wilting Flower are made out from the exact same fabric all throughout the animal.
Wilting Flower Company fills the need of a unique and important target market. To learn more about their mission and keep up to date with Ford, follow them on Instagram @wiltingflowerco and check out all of their products!