Like Czech-inspired kolaches and border-transcending tacos, Haitian head wraps and a Japanese artist’s bicycles, some of our state’s greatest goods have roots in faraway cultures. A trio of luxurious Texas-made children’s lines brings multicultural ties and a fondness for fun to the forefront of high-style family living. Each specializes in a distinct material: wood, fabric, or rattan. They’re all family owned and operated. And if we were writing a kids’ gift guide, the standout offerings from these brands would be at the top of our list—not just because they’re Texas-born, but because they also possess a grown-up sensibility that helps them fit into any style of home.
1. Cassarokids (Houston)
When celebrity interior designer Jeremiah Brent partnered with Cassarokids to promote the company’s Jumbo Waldorf Rocker earlier this year, stylish parents took notice of the high-design play furniture. “It’s served as a reading nook for Poppy in our formal living room and before that, a climbing toy for Oskar in the playroom,” Brent wrote on Instagram, referencing the two children he shares with his husband, fellow designer Nate Berkus. His experience is typical for buyers of the Houston-based company’s whimsical wooden structures, including the Jumbo Reversible Rocking Boat, which turns into a table when you flip it upside down. Each is made as much for play (climbing, rocking, sliding) as it is for practicality (growing, learning, lounging).
The brothers behind the brand, Nasir and Saber Sharafi, grew up in Iran before cutting their teeth in Dubai at Cassaro, a family interior design firm. They then attended college in Texas, where they set out to establish Cassaro in the U.S.—and eventually fell into creating a collection of children’s pieces in 2018, designed initially with their own little ones in mind. Nasir says the sustainably made pieces borrow inspiration from their own childhood, citing “the colorful fabrics and rugs of Iran,” as well as from the city of Houston, which drives the brothers to offer versatile products that suit diverse lifestyles. As a result, their modern structures range from neutral, utilitarian stools to fantastical, brightly hued play sets.
2. de Buci Baby (San Antonio & Austin)
The hallmarks of de Buci Baby’s highly giftable line of baby blankets, bibs, and stuffed animals are classic cotton and linen fabrics. “Originally, the brand was influenced by the simple sophistication of French children’s products,” says Maya Nairn, who runs the company with her sister, Tara Roma Gill. “[European kids’ toys] are less synthetic . . . and not overly precious. I admire their sense of beauty.” It would be easy to spot one of de Buci’s creations—in a gingham, striped, or floral print—and assume it was made across the pond. But all have been dreamed up by the San Antonio– and Austin-based sisters since they started the brand in 2015.
The stuffed animals include an old-fashioned teddy bear—this toile version is a customer favorite—alongside an array of other polyester-filled bunnies, mice, and pigs. “We were drawn to the idea of them looking a little handsewn, a little imperfect,” Nairn says. Real aficionados of the brand’s aesthetic can deck out an entire nursery and stock a full diaper bag with matching pieces. Everything from the aforementioned toys to crib sheets to diaper pouches is stitched up in the same humble-yet-charming materials.
3. Ellie & Becks (Austin)
For Christina Quach, what began as a passion project is now a boutique kids’ store with a cult following. She opened Ellie & Becks in 2020 with a simple goal: to carry the kinds of beautiful kids’ things she liked. It started with a doll: “I had come across an Asian doll for the first time, and it was a really cute doll—one that actually looked like my daughter—but it was only [sold] in Australia.” The Vietnamese American now stocks the same inclusive figures, as well as dozens of others designed to represent a diverse range of babies, stateside. Her interest in interior design was another driving force: she wanted to offer products that fit in with grown-up aesthetics while delighting little imaginations. This second goal led her to also create a coveted line of rattan furniture.
Though she’s based in Texas, where she hosts shopping events out of her South Austin warehouse on Fridays, her rattan designs are pieced together in Indonesia, where the majority of the world’s rattan is grown. Her dollhouses and miniature vanities are reminiscent of a simpler time, when kids had fewer pretend play options for their bedrooms. Quach carries rattan versions of both, and the Kai Rattan Kids Vanity & Stool is a best-seller. Sturdy and stylish, it’s a spark for little imaginations and built to stand the test of time—in other words, a modern heirloom.