The most innovative, creative puppet maker in the world!
Folkmanis® believes imagination is the key to a healthy childhood, encouraging play and discovery to develop the skills necessary in life. The company has been making the most innovative and engaging specialty puppets in the world since 1976, delighting imaginations and winning nearly every industry, child development, and kid-tested award, many repeatedly.
31 Years and Growing!
Conceived as a “cottage industry” business in Watertown, MA., in the late 1960’s and nurtured among the street vendors lining Berkeley’s famed Telegraph Avenue, Folkmanis® Puppets are the expression of Judy Folkmanis’ active imagination, sewing wizardry, and love of nature.
Creating her first animal puppets to entertain her own children, Judy was astounded when her unsung, but cuddly, creations began attracting a growing group of paying customers. Most often these were other parents who sought high play value from their toy purchases and an appreciation of the natural world for their children.
Joined in the burgeoning endeavor in 1976 by her Ph.D. husband Atis—who happily abandoned a career in biochemistry for pattern-cutting—the couple realized that launching a menagerie of carefully detailed and realistic animal puppets was their “right livelihood.” They hired several seamstresses and never looked back. The rest, as they say, is toy industry history – as Folkmanis’ line and renown grew by leaps and bounds.
Still headquartered in Emeryville, California, today Folkmanis, Inc. has grown to become the premier manufacturer of plush puppets worldwide. Folkmanis® offers over 200 of the most heartwarming and realistically designed creatures—both exotic and familiar—on the market today. And, after more than 25 years, Folkmanis, Inc. is still a family business. Judy and Atis oversee both the creative and operations sides to ensure that the quality and love of the natural world they wish to convey through their toys remains true to their original vision.
The European Distribution was taken over by Jochen Heil, who was actually a child therapist, in about 1988. Through his therapeutic work with children Jochen was given a unique insight into what children really need in a toy. The quality and creativity of the Folkmanis® Puppet range had fascinated him from the beginning, and he began importing the puppets to Europe. A growing customer base and increased orders led to Jochen giving up his job in order to grow his enterprise: first creating a mail order catalogue business, and later adding a wholesale arm.
Today, his business covers Europe and many adjoining countries, and local offices are added on a regular basis to enable customers to work with a partner who speaks their language. Folkmanis® Puppets is present at all the important trade fairs - including the Nuremberg Toy Fair in February each year.
Widely regarded as the most innovative puppet-maker in the world, Folkmanis® consistently designs beautifully crafted toys that inspire creativity, promote hands-on discovery, encourage interaction, teach fine and gross motor skills, help develop early language, and become a child’s lovable companion to be treasured for years. The company’s line includes a virtual menagerie of plush pets and friendly wildlife friends with new designs constantly on the drawing board.