Hindsight is 20/20, right? We’ve all been there; in the moment we may think “why am I doing this?” But looking back you realize every decision perfectly led you to where you are today. It’s this wonderful phenomenon that makes life so exciting.
This is the case for Michele Chiaramonte, founder of Little Miss Workbench, who can look back on her professional career with similar amusement and pride. From business marketer, to school teacher, to mommy, to woodworker, the book of Michele’s life has had many chapters. KIDOLO virtually sat down with Michele to hear more about Little Miss Workbench and how she wound up as a master artisan.
Michele and her husband were avid New Yorkers before giving birth to their daughter, Mali. Though the city had their heart, they wanted to raise their family in Long Island, where they had both grown up. But as Michele fondly notes, if she were going to trade in city life she would have to gain beach life.
Michele now found herself in a beautiful old home with a beautiful new baby. Mali, to her parents’ delight, was a mighty sleeper – like, a really deep sleeper. Having burned through every book and having completed every project she could think of during the long nap times, Michele would sit and dream about remodeling her home. She envisioned custom built-in bookshelves and handcrafted tables. These day dreams, however, didn’t include someone else making them; she imagined herself doing the work. So Michele began woodworking. She made bookshelves, a kitchen island, and a kid-size activity table for Mali. It was Mali who inspired her to take this hobby in a new direction.
Mali loved playing with the extra wood from Michele’s projects. This propelled Michele to blend woodworking into another favorite mother-daughter activity – photography. Michele and Mali would take many photos during their daily walks and eventually Mali herself became transfixed by photography. Michele created her first wooden camera for Mali complete with magnetic parts for her to move and imitate the motions of a real camera. As Michele is explaining all of this to us, Mali bellows from the other room, “Don’t forget the zoom!” (Note: Mali was an integral part of our conversation. Thank you for making sure we got every detail right!)
Soon Michele made more Zoom Flash Mali cameras to sell and later added a version without the magnetic features, the Say Cheese camera, for younger children. Mali was not the only three year old who adored her wooden apparatus. There seemed to be something magical about a kid and a camera. Little Miss Workbench’s cameras allow parents to see the world through the eyes of their child. Such a unique vantage point makes life a little sweeter.
The wooden toys of Little Miss Workbench foster imagination and mask education with fun. Kids master fine motor skills and coordination while learning to focus and appreciate their surroundings. Additionally, every Little Miss Workbench toy is made with plant-based dyes and is sealed with a beeswax sealant.
Everyone has a “little miss” in them. No matter if you’re a boy or a girl, you truly can do anything your heart tells you. “All things happen for a reason. Simply find what you love and love what you find.”