Sometimes Designers have to Wear their Sales Hat!

Sometimes as a Designer you have to wear your Sales hat! When I moved to Cleveland 5 years ago to lead Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids Product Development and Creativity Center, one of the first memberships I signed up for was Cleveland Museum of Art. 

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Upon visiting the gift shop, I discovered there was NOT ONE PRODUCT in the store from the Faber/Creativity house of brands. How could that be? I had a conversation with the manager and took her card, let her know that she was missing out on featuring some amazing products from brands in the museum’s back yard. I passed the sales manager’s business card along to the sales department at the company and asked why in the heck didn’t we have a relationship with the museum? 

Craftivity AromaJewels at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Craftivity AromaJewels at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Last week I visited the museum store for the first time in a while during my visit to see the Georgia Okeefe exhibition to find several products from the company FINALLY! It’s about time! Glad to know that I helped to increase the visibility for the brand at this phenomenal Cleveland arts institution. #Craftivity #CreativityForKids #FaberCastell  #Smithsonian #SparkLab #sales

Product Design & Development Customer Insight Sessions

Product development and design is ALWAYS about consumer insights. Decisions should never solely be based on “gut”. Engaging with your customer and consumer, getting product prototypes in their hands saves you costly mistakes of bad product launches. Consumer insight sessions DON’T have to be expensive.

The newly designed modular space at the Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids offices was ideal for onsite insight sessions. If you aren’t engaging your product team in consumer-centric research you are missing a huge opportunity.

Kid’s Focus Group Table Station

Kid’s Focus Group Table Station

Focus group participant paperwork and “Creative Council” opt-in. (Cultivating a local group of invitation-only consumers to interact with product development and design teams)

Focus group participant paperwork and “Creative Council” opt-in. (Cultivating a local group of invitation-only consumers to interact with product development and design teams)

Developing a Consumer Product Brand that was inspired by a Vintage Shoppe

As creatives we have to tell our stories, because frequently they are erased and forgotten.

I went to high school in Montclair New Jersey, and would often frequent the shops that lined Bloomfield Avenue after school. During my leadership at @eksuccessbrands a huge part of my responsibilities were to identify new concepts as a part of the new product development process. I would often visit Manhattan to find new things in the shops on Madison avenue and #Soho, but I’d often frequent a small curious vintage shop named @parcel_vintage. It was a mix of items you’d find in a vintage antique shop and a curious assortment of newly acquired stationery bits and pieces.

I would often spend a good amount of my development budget on samples purchased from Parcel (who often re-sold curious vintage paper goods found in basements and estate sales) to inspire the creative process for development projects at EKSuccessBrands. Eventually I made a proposal to the shops owner #about a licensing partnership.

I developed a brand and concept inspired by the @PArcel experience which has taken its twists and turns, the shop has since moved to the other side of Bloomfield avenue and has launched their own brand separate from the initial EK Success Brands licensed project.

Typesetting Decisions!

Typesetting Decisions!

The shop’s logo has evolved but I remember the initial debate on type setting and settling on the current font. . When your inspiration and trend seeking inspires a partnership and launches a consumer product brand. #trendhunting #trendshopping #licensing #antiques #stationery #stationary #vintage #montclairnj #montclair #NJ #EKSuccess #CreativeDirector #Parcel

Did you know? I'm the inventor of 3D Dots™ Making Dimension Easier for Artists & Makers!

Hey Hey! I developed 3-D Dots™ over 10 years ago as a solution to add volume to paper and art projects. It’s now a common item in the general adhesives category and can be found under several brand names…..even 3M! (But I was FIRST! 😃) #Inventor #designer

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Translating a Museum Experience into a Consumer Product - Smithsonian Lemelson Centers Spark Lab

Translating a Museum Experience into Consumer Product - Smithsonian Lemelson Center’ Spark Lab

During the data collection phase of the Smithsonian Spark lab Invention Kits developed for Faber-Castell, Creativity for Kids, I visited the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation with the goal of creative ethnographic research at the centers Spark Lab. 

The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation

The Lemelson Hall of Invention and Innovation

( Spark!Lab is where museum visitors become inventors. The Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation invites children between the ages of 6 and 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment, and invent. Activities for children and families incorporate traditional science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with art, museum, and creativity.) 

I would spend time observing the exhibitions visitors, who were families of small children with parents or guardians, who moved through the self-guided activities. Each station presented the opportunity for a child to engage in a stage of the invention process.

The goal for the product development team was how to best represent this exhibition as a boxed STEM activity. As the exhibition had no plug-and-play style guide, my team would need to develop the brand style guide and packaging systems which would capture the aesthetics. The time spent in the space during this visit provided the content for the team to kick off the ideation process.

The program’s goal was to feature several skus for a strong planogram presence, and this initial visit was the beginning of the process to determine how many SKUS was the right balance to represent the experience and fulfill the requirements of the licensing agreement that we needed to structure. 

The end result was a program featuring 8 STEM / STEAM Activity Kits.

Concept pitch of Spark Lab to Buyers at Dallas Toy Preview

Concept pitch of Spark Lab to Buyers at Dallas Toy Preview

Handmade Box Prototypes and product samples - first presentation of concepts to Buyers at the Dallas Toy Preview

Handmade Box Prototypes and product samples - first presentation of concepts to Buyers at the Dallas Toy Preview