Who's Who in the Zoo: Gaby the Mad Genius
Hi there! I'm Gaby and the one woman show behind Sticks & Stones Education: chooser of inventory and curator of content, chief photographer, stocker of shelves, copywriter, packer of orders and runner of the socials, and website builder.
I'm an early childhood teacher with over 20 years experience working in early learning services, preschools, outside of school hours services and also primary school! I've also been a director/manager for five years and a curriculum mentor for two.
I actually started babysitting when I was 12 years old for two little girls in my street - Theresa and Lola. they were both 9 months old. I then did nannying or au pair work while I started studying my Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. I wont be divulging how many years ago that was!
I'm still working as a teacher doing a mix of casual and temporary contracts with children prior to school and early primary.
I'm also an accidental cat rescuer, lover of coffee, pickled jalepenos and virgin mojitos in re-purposed pickle jars. I love succulents and cacti and indoor plants and quirky gardens.
Some Fun Randoms About Me!
- Favourite colours: teal, burnt orange, sage/olive green and black
- Favourite food: Mexican (coriander + jalepenos = happy place), but I also love Chinese, Thai and a smattering of Japanese.
- Favourite drink: coffee (currently a an oat milk late or home-made iced coffee) and virgin mojitos which I can down
- Favourite Architecture: California Craftsman/Mid-Century Modern
- What I wanted to be when I grew up: An archeologist! I absolutely loved ancient history in school ... although I found a booklet I made in first grade and I wrote that I wanted to be a teacher!
- I spent two years as an Educational Leader mentor to a cluster of 25 Educational Leaders. I loved this job and it really taught me to appreciate designing curriculum for young children ... AND of course beautiful teaching resources and toys.
- I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and really am a cool climate human bean. You can take the girl out of Berkeley, but you can't take Berkeley out of the girl! I'm a cool climate person well and truly/
- I love, and I mean LOVE retro furniture and stoneware, tiger cane, succulents and Mexican decor. My father's family is of Mexican/Native Mexican heritage, and I love learning about our heritage Sonoran desert. Actually I love family history and learning about my ancestors. I am here because of them.
- Favourite season: Autumn with a smattering of Spring. I'm also fond of a cozy Winter.
With a little bit of help from my friends ...
I get help from time to time and that comes in the form of another amazing Early Childhood Teacher named Elise Waghorn. Elise is amazing because she is a mother of four, including toddler twins, but she is also working and studying and teaching at University. Seriously. She's got a brain! You will notice Elise's name on some of our blogs. She may also from time to time answer your messages.
Sticks & Stones Education is an online educational toy and resource store. This is a home based business. As I'm still teaching,
Where in the World:
We are an Australian based business located in Western Sydney. All my deliveries are sent to Homebush to my parents place and then I collect them from there.
My mum is actually quite fond of the delivery people - especially during Covid-19 times as they were the only guests they would really have. I then get to cart all the boxes back to mine! It can be a pain especially when it's raining, but I do it for the love of Sticks & Stones Education.
I ship Australia wide using mainly Australia Post and couriers where applicable.
While we are online based, we also participate in markets, conferences and the occasional expo. Also, because I don't have enough on my retro-stoneware plate, I also host an Educational Toy & Resource Emporium each year in Sydney. It's an awesome event with up to 28 small businesses all selling amazing toys and resources.
As a practicing Early Childhood Teacher, I simply love the tools of the trade. Over my 20+ years of teaching I have seen the evolution and growth of the educational products on the market. And wow we now have access to such amazing products these days from all over the globe.
I am inspired by my own childhood and love of play. I went to an innovative preschool which was part of our local university. My play as a preschooler observed by university students and a participant in studies from infancy onwards may have actually influenced how we understand children's learning and play today. How cool is that? I think this pondering even deserves it's own blog piece.
I remember many key moments in preschool, from friendships and play to the learning spaces, routine moments and circle times, as well as a deep pondering about rainbows.
Play is critical to our learning, growth and development. Make it memorable and resource children's play with beautiful toys and educational items.
Sticks & Stones Education actually started out as a partnership between myself and a fellow Early Childhood Teacher. We were both in management and leadership and we both missed creating learnings space for children.
Independently we had been thinking about this idea and while we were both at a workshop on the play cycle, our chat lead to a shared dream and a small business. But business is hard! So very very VERY hard. So my small business wife decided she needed to step away from the business after three or so years, and I decided I would keep going forward. I restructured, designed a new website and then kept going!
And this is where we are today.