Meet the Artisan: Hook and Pine

Meet Cait and Vince, the husband & wife team behind Hook and Pine. A local brand based in the Kamberg, KZN- working hard to create beautiful handmade toys that are sustainable and sure to last. Rock Paper Scissors is super proud to be stocking this talented family’s range of pine wood toys and to be supporting their mission in ensuring children get the imaginative play they need. This is Cait and Vince’s story:

Image via Hook and Pine , Instagram, hookandpine


Can you tell us a little about the history of your brand? How did it get started, and what motivated you to create it? 

We started Hook & Pine in 2016. Vincent has been passionate about woodwork since he was young and I taught myself to crochet a few months after our second son was born. Originally, it was a side hustle that helped us cope with the challenges of being young parents but it has grown into something we cherish. We unschooled our kids for 8 years and they had the time and freedom to explore, be curious, and learn about themselves and the world around them. We knew that many children didn’t have access to the kind of wild space our boys did and we wanted to find a way to encourage purposeful, imaginative, outdoor play. Now that our boys are at school, we feel even more passionately about preserving their love of nature and their out-the-box thinking. We believe kids should have more time for self-directed play, so we create toys that get kids outside where they can immerse themselves in imaginary worlds that are grounded in the joy of nature.


What inspires your brand and your designs? Are there any particular influences or themes that you draw upon in your work? 

We make toys that are durable and designed for adventures. We focus on products that lead to open-ended play and we always have time outdoors in mind. As busy parents, we appreciate the value of toys that help kids get lost in play. Our toys are simple, well-made, sustainable, and created with intention.

Image via Hook and Pine , instagram, hookandpine


What are some of the challenges you've faced as a local South African brand, and how have you overcome them? 

Loadshedding certainly keeps us on our toes when it comes to workshop time, and Vincent keeps a close eye on the schedule. We live quite remotely with limited courier options so coordinating stock drops and orders takes extra care. Exposure has probably been one of the biggest challenges. We know local is lekker, but it can be tricky to convince parents that local brands offer something special when compared with generic, imported products. But I think running a business in South Africa teaches patience and encourages ingenuity and resilience. These are minor challenges that have only helped us think more creatively about our business.

Can you tell us about some of the materials and techniques you use in your designs? How do you choose the materials you work with? 

We use pine for our wooden toys and a mixture of recycled cotton and acrylic yarn and local yarns for our crochet items. We love pine because it is a sustainably-sourced material that allows us to keep our prices affordable for families. Vincent is a whizz in the workshop but usually finishes each piece with careful hand sanding.

Image via Hook and Pine , instagram, hookandpine


How do you approach sustainability and ethical practices in your brand? Are there any initiatives or practices you've implemented to reduce your environmental impact? 

Sustainability is an important part of our lives and Hook & Pine is no different. We use pressure-treated pine sourced from local plantations that are FSC-certified and purchased locally. Our packaging is all recyclable (barring tape) and we reuse boxes whenever possible. Many of our crochet items are made from recycled cotton and acrylic yarn. We are always looking at ways to minimize our footprint on the earth.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories or anecdotes about your brand or your products? 
Our kids are our inspiration and they are an important part of the process. They test all our products and are very honest in their feedback. We know if our products can survive our kids, the design is good. We talk about Hook & Pine being “our” business and the kids contribute product ideas and get a cut of the profits. We tell kids that they can be anything they want to be, but they can’t be what they can’t see. So we involve them, so they can see what running a business looks like. We also listen to their ideas, however unrealistic, and help them come up with something viable. For example, one of our boys wants to design a comic so you may see a line of Hook & Pine graphic novels in the future.
Image via Hook and Pine , instagram, hookandpine


What do you hope customers will experience or feel when they interact with your brand and products? 

We want our customers to feel like friends. We are a (fairly) normal family who are just trying to raise good humans and empower parents and kids to spend more time engaged in natural, self-directed play. We like to think that we are relatable and approachable, and I hope that our customers feel comfortable interacting with us and confident that they have a product that really has been made with love, care, and intention.


Image via Hook and Pine , Instagram, hookandpine

How do you see your brand evolving in the future? Are there any new projects or collaborations in the works? 

We would love to grow Hook & Pine and we have some big ideas for a project that will empower women in our local community. We are always working on new product ideas and we are almost ready to launch a range of toys that combine crochet and wood (hook and pine). We also have plans to create a subscription service that will include amazing toys and resources for parents and kids.

What advice would you give to other local South African brands looking to succeed in the industry? OR What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own brand or business? 

Start before you’re ready. We didn’t have a clue what we were doing when we started but the best way to learn is through experience.Don’t worry about what people will think because, in all honesty, they aren’t thinking about you. It’s easy to get caught up in the success metrics, but we know that it doesn’t matter what size your social media following is or how perfect your pictures are. If you create a product/service based on integrity, passion, and a drive to help others, the right people will find you. You also need to reframe how you look at things. If you are constantly looking for problems and failures, that is all you will see. But when you shift your perspective and look at problems as challenges and chances for growth, you develop a growth mindset that leads to creative, out-the-box thinking.

  Finally, Can you share with us some of your favorite products or collections that you have created, and why they are special to you? 

I love our binoculars. We made our first pair for our son’s 5th birthday because he sees the world in a different way and notices things that most people don’t. He was so excited to spend time in the forest, narrowing his focus and using them to explore and dream. Vincent did a beautiful job of turning them and they will always be special as they remind me that life really is about your perspective. Vincent’s favourite product is our catapult. He loves the way the intricate design is sturdy enough for outdoor adventures and how anything from acorns to stones can be launched. He spent a lot of time in nature as a kid and our catapult is everything his inner child could want.

Image via Hook and Pine , instagram, hookandpine


If you guys love these carefully and locally crafted wooden toys as much as we do and want to get some for yourself then you can find the full Hook and Pine wooden toy range in store or browse right here on our Online Store.

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