About Us

Flat Friends®

An Australian brand with a big heart and passion to make a difference.

Flat Friends® are friendly, lovable animal and children characters who come to life in a positive, fun and engaging way.

In creating our toys, games and books, we focus on detail, educational content, construction and its impact on your child’s growing mind, triggering his or her senses in a nurturing, positive, interactive, creative and fun way.

We inspire your child’s creativity and imagination, improving his or her self-esteem, building confidence and instilling a positive ‘Can Do’ attitude.

By empowering your child with knowledge, we replace fear with love, affinity, respect and trust for our wildlife and each other regardless of background or challenges.

Our products are tested to meet international standards and marked safe for newborn babies, or children three years or older. Please check this safety mark on the product you purchase.

Our Story - Since 1996

When I was seven, I made an elephant soft toy at school. I loved my elephant especially because it came to life for me in the making.

In 1996, when I couldn’t find any soft toys made from natural material for babies and remembering my elephant, I decided to make my own.

I researched and read a lot about different types of material that I could use to make my soft toys. In my search for the best natural material, I learnt that lambskin/sheepskin contained therapeutic properties that helped babies to have a longer and more restful sleep. This promoted their wellbeing and meant that they ate better, and became healthier and happier. I was determined to use lambskin/sheepskin to make my soft toy, but I needed to know more about it.

While looking for the perfect lambskin/sheepskin, I became aware that it was graded based on its fur density, length and fleece quality, discovering that lambskin is softer than sheepskin. Luckily, Australia breeds some of the best quality fleece in the world. I found the perfect Australian lambskin; the fur was dense, 10cm long, with premium quality very soft fleece. Being someone who cares about the environment and wanting a natural product for babies the method used to tan the skin was important to me, and I found a tannery that used safe and environmentally friendly chemicals and dyes.

Lambskin with fur is stiff, thick, and hard to cut and stitch. This was made even more difficult by choosing premium quality lambskin with long and dense fur. Cutting the lambskin and sewing the pieces into a recognisable shape was very complicated. I was determined to make something, and persisting ended up with my first simple koala shape soft toy. You can see the shape in our logo. Because I had chosen skin with long and dense fur, my lambskin soft toy didn’t need stuffing. It was flat, natural, soft and cuddly! They made great unique gifts for family and friends with newborn babies, and I started to sell them at church stalls, markets and through independent boutique shops.

By 2000, I had created the soft-toys with simple cartoon characters that went on gift cards and unbleached cotton drawstring bags. I sold these in a variety of colours throughout Australia, including the Qantas In-Flight Catalogue, Australian Geographic retail shops, and Kidstuff. This is how Flat Friends® was born. Animals are our Friends. Our toys are Flat. I use earth colours to reflect Australia.

A Desire to Help Wildlife and Our Environment

For me, the best way to make a difference was simple, “If I could help children love wildlife, then perhaps things might change.”

After my daughter was born, I lived in a house that backed onto a large river. When it rained the storm water outlets poured rubbish into it causing a blanket of filth that floated on top. We are surrounded by our own rubbish, car oil and fumes, cigarette buds, plastic bottles, everything ends up either in the air, on the street, or in our waterway. I have always been concerned about the damage that we as humans have done to our environment, through neglect and overuse of our precious resources, resulting in many species being threatened or on the verge of extinction.

My daughter, at the age of three, would get very angry, going up to complete strangers saying to them “Please don’t litter!” and would say to me; “Mummy look at this rubbish isn’t it terrible, why do people do that?” Another time she said to me; “Mummy you know that trees don’t hurt, they actually help us because they make oxygen so why do we hurt trees?” I didn’t know what to say to her except “Yes, humans can cause damage and do without thinking”.

This made me want to work proactively towards growing my range of Flat Friends® to change the way we do things and positively impact on many of our endangered animal species, preserving their environment. For me, the best way to make a difference was simple, “If I could help children love wildlife, then perhaps things might change.”

Growing my range of animal soft toys meant doing a lot of research. This highlighted to me how many of our precious animals were on the verge of extinction. As I learnt something new about an animal, I shared the information with my daughter. One day she asked me ‘Mummy, will these animals still be around when I grow up?” How do you explain to a 5-year-old child something as scary and sad as the possible extinction of so many of our favourite animals? I realised if I was going to really make a difference, besides helping children love animals through our toys and stories, I needed to support wildlife financially and decided that Flat Friends would contribute some money to help.