Sturdy and Stylish Step Stools for Kids

One dad’s response to his daughter’s budding independence leads to a stylish household staple
By: Ali Brownrigg | Posted February 12, 2014
ellamenopea step stools for kids seattle
EllaMenoPea creator Cody Lamens, with his muses, Lucy (on floor) and Ella

Once toddlers reach a certain age, say around 18 months, all they want is to do everything themselves. (Unless, of course, you ask them to do something; then, forget about it.) One response to this phase is to provide safe and sturdy tools for the job and let the kid have at it. It is for these parents that Issaquah dad Cody Lamens built the Neil step stool ($95).

Lamens, a sales manager in the tech industry with a penchant for woodworking, launched his small line of handmade children’s products, EllaMenoPea (ellamenopea.com) in 2012, when his daughter, Ella, was 2 and full of precocious DIY desire. “My wife and I looked around for a step stool that was built to last many years but stylish enough to fit into our home’s décor,” Lamens says. “We never found what we were looking for, so I designed and built a step stool in my garage.” Inspired by and named for his late uncle Neil, a furniture maker who helped Lamens make his first stool when he was 7, the Neil Step Stool is available at Wee Tots (Bellevue, 10245 Main St., Suite 103; 425.502.7182; shopweetots.com).

All EllaMenoPea products (which include wooden cars, toy boxes and puzzles) are made using eco-friendly wood (no added urea-formaldehyde, or NAUF), water-based finishes with ultralow VOC (volatile organic compounds) and zero hazardous air pollutants, and natural oil and waxes. “I pride EllaMenoPea on being high quality, built like a brick house and stylish,” he says. “Craftsmanship is very important to me, and I put a lot of TLC into each piece to make sure it is just right.” A percentage of all EllaMenoPea sales benefit the Ben Towne Foundation (bentownefoundation.org), a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to accelerating the pace of pediatric cancer research.