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The Kid Craft Formula

IMG_1734Summer ActivitiesAs summer has now sprung and many families are blessed to have a few months of extra time with their littles, Flower City Bitties has been inundated with requests for kid-friendly crafts.  My first reaction with each request has been “Kid-craft ideas!? Of course I’ve got ideas. Not only am I a craft guru but I also have two tiny humans tugging at mywaist on the daily.  I’ve got this!” (no joke, as I wrote that line my 15-month old dumped a bag of Cheerios onto my kitchen floor). To avoid minimizing my expertise, I really do have a great grasp of craft ideas for any occasion and have the innate ability to discover new crafts when my toolbox seems incomplete.

So off I went, on my kid craft journey, scouring Pinterest and the internet for amazing ideas for my followers to try out this summer.  Lucky for me, this research will come in handy for me personally while I spend “lazy” summer days with my own kids at home. My Pinterest board is now full and my mind exploding with ideas to disseminate to the masses! And here’s the deal, there are a TON of ideas on Pinterest for DIY kid crafts.  You don’t necessarily need my expertise to easily access the vast options out there for you and your family.  But here are my things to consider, as you try to decide which crafts will actually be successful:

Age/Ability: You obviously know the kiddos you will be working with.  Be realistic about IMG_0229their ability levels and not just age (insert mantra that states “no two kids develop the IMG_1599same skills at the same time”). For me, my three year old would be okay at finger painting but prefers to throw things.  So yeah, visions of paint flying around and hitting me and my 15-month old are swarming my head.  No finger-painting for us…

Craft Difficulty Level: The entire goal of picking a plethora of crafts for your kids is to occupy their time with something enjoyable. Make sure what you have selected is actually within your kids ability level; you get to decide how much adult assistance you are willing to give. Last spring I attempted to make salt dough with my then two year-old. He wasn’t so good at measuring out the ingredients BUT was a rockstar as smooshing out the dough and making his hand-print; overall, I called it a success. At no point did he throw a tantrum out of frustration because the project was too hard or I was micromanaging every step. However, I attempted a microwave soap experiment last summer that was a disaster. The soap burned and filled my entire house with smoke; it was literally toxic and we spent the entire day outside while my house cleared out.  My poor little man was so confused, because I had built up the anticipation for this amazing project that ended up making us both cough and gag. Oops!

IMG_0226Parent Involvement Needed: As mentioned above, this factor will differ greatly for everyone.  Some weeks I am all-in and willing to walk through every step with my little guy.  Other times my crafting goal is to just let him go, with little help from me (think sidewalk chalk style). When I was brainstorming ideas in late spring, per customer requests, forefront in my mind was how much help from an adult was necessary for each project; my goal was not to create a stressful and chaotic environment that puts parents OCD need for order into disarray. The goal was to find that balance between adult involvement and kid independence.

Mess-Factor: Oddly enough, messes make me anxious sometimes, especially when they involve unpredictable children.  Make sure to consider your surroundings when selecting your crafts. Would it be best to do this outside? Do you have outside space and decent weather? Is clean up easy and quick, because we all know kids don’t have a strong ability to sit quietly while adults restore order to the world? I found an adorablecanvas painting craft meant for smaller children this spring that involved footprints.  I was so excited until my customer pointed at that at the venue we would be doing this craft, access to a sink to wash paint from feet wasn’t really great.  Ugh, there went that idea, at least for that venue!

Utility: This is a biggy for me.  I LOVE homemade stuff from my kids, I really do.  But I IMG_1600recognize that especially as my kids become school-aged, they will be coming home regularly with work to display on our refrigerator.  My goal, when brainstorming with my customers this spring, was to find crafts to do with kids that offered some sort of utility (I will admit that I did select a handful of crafts that will eventually add to the fridge-decor clutter, but I couldn’t resist). So I found garden stone crafts, DIY birdhouses, dragon noisemakers.

So there it is.  It is not an infallible formula, but it is helpful.  Enjoy these messy moments (a throwback to an earlier post!) and watch your kids embark on a creative journey.  As I have said before, it isn’t necessarily about the end product and is more about the time spent together making the memories.

 

Chiclet

 

Lauren Harrison, Co-Founder/PartnerHeadshot

 

Taking a (brand) stand!

FCB has been hustling, hustling, hustling for the last three months.  I am sure you all Logo 3have noticed that our Facebook posts have been more frequent, that our Instagram posts have not only become more frequent but have changed from lifestyle to crafty-inspired posts. My weekly blog has given you sneak peeks in to the thought process behind our business development and the creative process.  What hasn’t been as transparent are the thoughts and inspiration behind Flower City Bitties, our brand.

 

Silk Flower Monogram Class Brainery 4In speaking with a friend, who is a marketing guru, he stressed that first and foremost I needed to decide what my brand was.  I wasn’t completely clueless (I know that I like name-brand peanut butter, that I am loyal to the brand of makeup I wear), but I definitely had to play it off like I knew exactly what he meant.  He is SO good at marketing, I couldn’t let him know that the entrepreneur, small business developing, innovative person he was taking too didn’t have a clear brand conceived and ready to go. Actually, now that I am typing this, I realize that I really didn’t have a clue what he meant about developing my brand.  I thought it was developed.  I am co-founder of Flower City Bitties: Creativity Consultants.  I craft, I teach classes, and I am developing an MASSIVE product launch for this summer.  Thats my brand.

 

 

That was the mantra playing through my head after our phone call.  I was so confident that I had my brand nailed down.  I think they call it “nailing it” these days.  But honestly, I didn’t have a full vision of what my brand was going to be with this new product launch coming.  I am a FCB and I will always teach crafting classes, but with the new products being launched this summer, who I am and what FCB is, is changing.  So I had to take a step back and really envision what I wanted ALL of my followers to see and think of, when they encounter FCB marketing or craft-ortunities (get it, craft + opportunity = craft-ortunities).

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So here it is. When anyone comes across my personal Facebook account, the FCB business page, or the Flowercitybitty Instagram account, when they see an advertisement for a class or the new products appear in a Google search…I want them to feel inspired, energized, excited, and happy.  My classes will always be pretty, organized, and comfort inducing.  My new products will arrive in amazing packaging, that not only is secure and safe for the precious cargo, but eye-catching.When that box arrives on your doorstep, you will get butterflies in your stomach because not only are you excited about what you have purchased, but who gets a box like THAT!? HOW COOL!

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Flower City Bitties, the brand as a whole (and notice I still haven’t told you what this new product launch is, hehe), stands for creativity and relaxation.  No matter the form, when my creative following is utilizing any service or product I offer, they are embarking on the creative journey with me, with the end-goal of relaxation and contentment in mind.

Chiclet

 

~ Lauren Harrison, co-founder Headshot

Targeting the Market

Logo 3Targeting the Market

Last week my post was inspired by our official Flower City Bitties business plan.  I had to really dig deep and figure out what our goals are and where our visions originated from.  This was incredibly therapeutic as it gave guidance and structure to these dreams that have been marinating in my head for years.  The control addict in me needed the business plan, to feel grounded as my new crafting empire grows (although I didn’t realize this as I procrastinated in writing the plan as long as I possibly could- who likes the knitty gritty, back-end, parts of business anyway!?). And, of course, it lead to my giggles and ‘warm and fuzzy’ reflections.

What I didn’t expect, through the development of the business plan, were the feelings of Silk Flower Monogram Class Brainery 4empowerment generated by looking at our ‘target market’ data.  I figured that finding this data would take a few hours, that I’d spend time perusing the internet and analyzing a few graphs. I figured having a super official looking section of the business plan, dedicated to our faithful followers and geographic area, would seem impressive to my business partner, to my husband, and to future investors.  The plethora of the books and websites I dug through, to learn how to write a legitimate plan, simply said to identify who you are catering to and learn what their interests are.  I took notes.  I hand-wrote an outline for the plan.  I told myself that the target market portion would be the easiest and,  at the very least, interesting to read!

As I was doing this research, however, I kept feeling a little irritated.  I know that I am aiming to help hardworking women find time to be creative and relieve stress. Defining hardworking was even a struggle for me, as it doesn’t necessarily mean a woman who Brooch Class Group Shotworks 70 hours a week, and encompasses a massive demographic.  My target has been clear to me from the beginning and I thought it was acceptable to state just that- my target market is any female of any age who wants to be creative.  Who am I to dig into my followers lives and analyze their lifestyle and financial habits?  How do I even begin to describe the people I want to touch base with, the people I want to interact with and laugh with during my classes? My “target” is simple (make creativity accessible and relaxing) but my goals and dreams for every woman I have the joy of working with are so vast. I don’t care what your job is, what your family life is, or what your spending habits are (I mean, I care…but not in the analytical sense…hear me out).  My only intent, in its purest form, is to bring a service to women that is valuable and worthwhile.  I will do this by showcasing and sharing my creativity for everyone to see.

When I finiBusiness Card Picshed my business plan, I realized that my expectations were correct.  It was not a tedious task to read about the wonderful people my business is surrounded by and catering to even though my mind races when I am presented with numbers.  Sure, these people didn’t have names or faces.  The numbers and graphs, and emotions I felt as I took my notes and wrote my plan, helped to remind me that teaching crafting classes comes from an honest place deep within my dream-seeking soul.   

While our faithful followers don’t know the details, Flower City Bitties has been working continuously over the last few months in preparation for a MAJOR launch this summer.  It is a scary endeavor but something we believe wholeheartedly in, and after looking at the market data we KNOW we will be valuable to our target market.

 

ChicletLauren Harrison ~ Co-founderHeadshot

Make the Mess…

Logo 3You’ve all seen them.  The Pinterest fails memes. They are hilarious but ring all too true more often than not.  And if I think back to my beginner crafting days, these project fails usually lead me to more carefully select my next crafting chalkboard-paint-wine-glass-fail-EPFadventure…to select projects that I knew I could do successfully. Let’s be honest, the goal of crafting isn’t to fail and make an absolute mess.  The goal of crafting is to relax, have fun, de-stress, and end with a gorgeous and unique creation.

You’re probably thinking that this blog post is now going to transition into tips on how to be more successful with crafting so that you don’t become another Google image or Facebook meme. Sure, I will try to motivate you and inspire you.  But honestly…

Make. The. Messes. Fail. Laugh.

Wooden Monogram with Stone
This is NOT what I created, but instead the inspiration behind that winter crafting day…

I recently began working on our formal Flower City Bitties Business Plan and it forced me to think back to the roots of what we do.  I had to reflect on how the business started and what inspired me to start this crafting adventure.  At one point I literally giggled out loud because I remember sitting on my girlfriends living room floor on a cold winter Saturday, with a group of four of my friends, sipping wine and snacking on fancy cheeses (this was a treat in itself because my husband doesn’t eat cheese – GASP! – so I was indulging more than I should have).  The t.v. was playing a 90’s throwback movie. We had a selected a craft that needed 10” wooden monograms, silver spray paint, and colorful stones.  This craft wasn’t necessarily a fail, in that all of the materials worked together and I did make a DIY piece of home decor that has survived two moves and two children.  I even made a second one to gift my dad for Christmas. However, it is the ugliest thing I have personally created and displayed in my home.

I recently found this creation hiding in my basement and decided to take it to a crafting event to display.  As I boxed it up, I questioned why I even kept this item because it just is not visually appealing.  It doesn’t show my creative talents.  And then I realized that this monogram is, in all reality, a total fail.  It is chipped, the colors are off, and it seems too simple.  But the memories I have of sitting with my friends crafting and sipping wine, the memories of warmth flowing through me as we laughed and relaxed, are what I am holding on to (and not the craft itself).  For that reason, I will probably always keep this failed creation.

Life gets busy and no one ever spends as much time as they should with friends amelted-crayon-art-fail-nailed-itnd family relaxing.  So don’t get hung up on the stress of needing to create  DIY craft-perfection.  Make the messes, try to avoid the glue gun burns, spill acetone on your coffee table irrevocably damaging it.  The simple fact that you took time for you to relax and laugh is all that counts. And chances are, whatever you created will be perfect.  It was created with love and good intentions, and that is all that matters.

That is the goal of FCB- to help people take the time for themselves.  To bring warmth and positive vibes to our stress-filled world.  So of course we want you to be successful and create truly stunning crafts, but embrace the Pinterest fails too as those might just hold a deeper meaning than you realize!

Chiclet

~ Lauren Harrison, Co-founder

Facing my fears and finding MY success

Facing my fears…and finding my success

I have always considered myself a strong and resilient person.  In all reality, I veryLogo 3 much am.  I have survived the college years, the independent adult years just after college, marriage, an international move, two children, a full-time job.  I think that most people that we encounter in our daily lives should be considered resilient.  We are all facing the same world where everyone strives for success- the definition for success is different for all of us, but it is what we work towards each day.

Now that I have played in this ‘adult’ game for a few years, I find myself reflecting back on my 18 year-old self to see if my goals are the same and if I have reached them.  In doing so, I struck a very unnerving cord within myself.  At 18, I wanted to be in business and went to college to do just that.  I wanted to manage my life and have control. I wanted success and to feel powerful.  I wanted to make an impact on the world, although I didn’t know how exactly that was going to transpire.  But life happened.  I met a guy.  I missed home a bit.  And slowly my goals transitioned from ‘worldly’ to ‘home-bound’.  I changed my major, went in to teaching like my mother and my grandmother, and hunkered in to this new life.

Eventually I met my husband; we got married, and had our first child soon thereafter.  I continued my career in education, dabbling in crafting as an outlet to relax and excuse to hang out with my friends. Throughout these busy years as my family was growing I felt this odd tug deep within.  My 18 year-old goals were pushing through.  Despite being wildly successful on many fronts, something in my life was lacking.  I suppressed these feelings for a long time. Who doesn’t feel fulfilled teaching? Who considers leaving a full-time job with benefits and a pension, just because something is missing?

I did. I considered it.

As I write these words I have butterflies.  I am anxious and scared.  Will my pursuits be lucrative? Will I be able to support my family financially and STILL find the happiness and fulfillment I have been missing? I don’t have those answers.  What I do have is a drive to be successful, to create a business and brand that flourishes and grows.  I want my children to see their mother work and hustle.  Every.  Single.  Day. They will be proud of me.7

I will face my fears and insecurities, swallow back the random nausea as I realize how huge this life choice is.  I will read books, take classes, network every day.  If I fail, it won’t be because I didn’t work hard.  And honestly, I think even if I do fail, I will feel fulfilled because I tried.  I faced my fears and took a leap to follow my dreams.  There is nothing wrong with following your dreams and I am beyond blessed to have an incredibly strong network that allows me to do this.

~ LaChicleturen Harrison

Co-founder, Flower City Bitties