To Top

Meet Rachel Merrill, Sofia Bergin of CALIHOLM in San Diego Coastal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Merrill, Sofia Bergin.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Travel, we do it everyday from home, to school, to work, to play, and then there are the road trips, buses, boats, trains and planes. How and why we travel hasn’t changed, but how we keep our kids engaged has. Like it or not, screens have become an easy way to occupy restless children. And while we like to encourage creativity, many of the activities kids enjoy aren’t travel-friendly, or they simply aren’t engaging enough for longer trips.

As a proud mama of a four-year-old boy who has always had an abundance of energy, I quickly learned how to effectively pack our travel bags. In fact, as a natural researcher and “informed” consumer, I started creating elaborate travel kits for my son and my son’s friends to stay engaged while on the go. Some toys were innovative and eco-friendly, while others were disposable and created waste.

On an eleven hour transatlantic flight with my son, I found that one specific toy, a single use plastic lacing shape, held his attention and focus for what felt like hours (while I held my breath). Previously, nothing but a screen had held his attention for that long. I loved the familiar concept of the lacing toy and realized IT WORKS! The designer in me couldn’t help thinking, instead of reinventing the wheel, I could enhance the design,
build out a complete concept with themes and educational fun facts, and make them sustainable.

When we arrived to my beloved California, I shared my sliver of an idea with Rachel and the CALIHOLM dream started taking shape. // Sofia Bergin, Mom, Designer, Cofounder

Has it been a smooth road?
We are committed to using earth- and people-friendly practices in everything we do at CALIHOLM. The lacing boards in our Curious Traveler Lace+Trace kits are crafted using 100% renewable and sustainably harvested bamboo. One of our biggest challenges has been sourcing quality bamboo material from a supplier who maintains a similar sustainable mission, and then working with a dependable design-oriented manufacturer on the laser cutting craftsmanship. We have been down roads with two different suppliers, and three different manufacturers all in order to achieve a product we are proud of and that meets our standards.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with CALIHOLM – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are Sofia and Rachel, two passion driven (and coffee fueled) mothers, who strive to make good choices for our families and our environment every day. Travel has always been an important part of who we are, independently, and now as friends and business partners who live on opposite sides of the world (Stockholm and California). When we became mothers we faced the same challenges many parents face when traveling with young children, HOW DO I KEEP MY CHILD ENGAGED?

We discovered that many travel-friendly activities lacked creativity and the sustainable values close to our hearts. We took matters into our own hands (literally!) and decided to handcraft screen-free eco-friendly travel kits for kids.

After launching a prototype travel kit with a variety of activities that we developed, we used the crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter to help bring our creative project to life. We were able to share our story, gain support, and meet our funding goal in January 2019. But most importantly, we learned our Montessori inspired Lace+Trace concept was by far the most popular with our awesome kid testers #caliholmkids. With this feedback, we quickly turned our focus and late nights to design and craft the Curious Traveler Lace+Trace kits.

Curious Traveler Lace+Trace is a fresh take on a traditional Montessori and Waldorf inspired lacing concept, and it’s designed to be eco-friendly, engaging, and reduce screen time.

The Lace+Trace concept is proven to promote healthy child development. It allows for creative play, and helps develop fine motor skills and sensory stimulation. Recommended age 3+. Enjoyed by children and adults alike.

The kit includes:

-Three lacing boards made out of 100% renewable and sustainably harvested bamboo featuring iconic shapes based on a single theme, ie. California Dreaming, Ocean Wonders, Enchanted Forest, Safari Stars
-Three colorful lacing cords (45″)
-Concept cards with scratch-off “curious” facts
-Bonus: Stay Curious travel pouch


Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
The best thing about San Diego is the people (and of course the weather!). I moved to sunny San Diego from the Midwest fifteen years ago. Fresh out of college with lofty goals and dreams for days, San Diego welcomed me with open arms and 275 days of sunshine. Very quickly I realized there were so many people living here with a similar mindset, from the Midwest, East Coast, Europe and beyond. Now more than ever the creative community is doing their thing, shining bright and motivating others to challenge themselves and rise above.

My least favorite thing about San Diego is the fair-weather fans and the lack of commitment to showing up for events and the community.

// Rachel Merrill, Mom, Creative Director, Cofounder


  • Suggested retail price is $49.00.

Contact Info:

  • Address: San Diego, CA
  • Website:
  • Phone: 858-922-6763
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @caliholm_
  • Facebook: @caliholm

Image Credit:
Michelle Lillywhite

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in