Product Development

DIY Crafting That's IRL and Insta-Worthy

Excerpt from Article: “ The tween scene is all about “in real life” crafting that’s cool, collectible and ready to share.” - By Pamela Brill

No matter whether your store carries toys or gifts, you know the challenges of catering to the tween demographic. Sometimes, it can feel like trying to sell a toy to any kid older than 8 is like trying to sell ice to an Eskimo.

Blame it on any number of factors: age compression (kids appearing to get older, younger), their constant desire to be digitally connected, fickle buying habits…did we mention too much screen time? It’s enough to make toy buyers and sellers throw their hands up in the air and cry mercy!

And just as important as who is buying the craft kit is who is receiving it; toy designers must tailor their tween selection to a more mature audience. “A tween girl doesn’t want her little sister’s crafts; she wants a much more sophisticated look, something that her little sister would not be interested in,” say Delanie West, vice president of product development, at Faber-Castell USA. “The experience is  ‘graduated’ to more challenging techniques, more steps in the creative process and more of an open-ended feel in the projects to let their creative decisions flourish.”

The CRAFTIVITY Pretty Pendants Aroma Jewelry combines natural fragrance oils with beads to create scented jewelry. $20. Creativity for Kids/Faber-Castell USA.



As craft kit manufacturers develop lines for tweens, they must determine what role, if any, the integration of technology will play in design or promotions. For Faber-Castell USA’s Creativity for Kids brand, the company looks to social media for inspiration for its product and packaging, specifically Instagram Top Down positioning that presents a bird’s eye view. “By presenting some product photography using that subtle photography angle, we are speaking to (tweens) in the way they engage with imagery on Instagram,” say West.

Does your creative department REALLY have the tools that they need?

Does your creative department REALLY have the tools that they need?


When I accepted the position to lead a creative team for a 250-year-old brand, I was shocked to see that the company's designers were using a standard 11'/11'x17 printer for presentations and product mockups.

If you're in the consumer product development business, you'll know this means that to create a product packaging mockup, a designer has to print out a packaging or other layout on several 11'x17' sized tiled sheets, and painstakingly glue them together.

No creative department should have to do this. It presents your product presentations and sales materials in the most pedestrian manner.

One of the first improvements I made was to budget for a #Epson wide format printer, which was a time saver and allowed for the creation of excellent quality mockups, gloss and matte printing. Printing on adhesive paper (eliminating the need for dangerous spray mounting), and saving the business on the cost of super expensive large format printing at Kinkos and print houses. This group could finally present top quality comps.

Are you certain your creative team has the tools they need for your brand to be successful? Have you asked them what they need?

I’m giving you recommendations on the top 3 tools you MUST secure for your creative consumer product art team.

3 MUST haves for all creative consumer product art departments.

#productdevelopment #prototypes #mockups #creativeteams

Mandala Art Therapy

Mandala Art Therapy - a new product experience via inspiration and call-to-creation packaging Product development doesn’t always require you to create new products, often great new products are a presentation of new experiences using existing products.

A primary responsibility as VP of Product Development and Design at Faber-Castell was developing new-to-the-world products but also presenting new experiences for the 256-year-old brands’ existing product. For the Mandala Pitt Pen Set, the goal was to inspire consumers to experience Faber-Castell Pitt pens in a casual, non-technical way.

This collection of pens, already existing in the brand’s product pipeline, required inspiration in form of packaging inviting (call-to-create) the consumer to experience the therapeutic process of mandala making. To make the experience easy, and to add value - stencils are included. The art of creating Mandalas is proven to be therapeutic “Mandalas can be an excellent art therapy intervention for both children and adults.”

I am available for new product development and product development solutions for your branded or private label line. 

At Age 11 I launched my First Toy & Craft Business - Kid Entrepreneur Selling Craft Kits in the early 80’s 

I like to say there are three categories in the craft business: Do it Yourself, Do it With Me and Do It For Me  In the early 80’s I was in the "Do it For Me" Business.

Id' say "architect" when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. The next best thing when you're 9 is assembling dollhouses. There weren’t many open-ended or even guided craft experiences for kids, nothing like the selections in the market today. Ma and Pa hobby shops sold dollhouses for girls, and model car and truck sets for boys, oh and latch hook kits, that was pretty much it. I couldn’t get enough of this DIY stuff, as many dollhouses, model car sets and latch hook kits as my mother would buy, I’d assemble. Mom told me she refused to allow me to be bored as a kid, I was always crafting, assembling and making.

I officially launched my first DIY Craft Company in 1985. I was CEO, Sales, Designer, Production, Quality Assurance, Shipping and Ad Agency. I kept my operating costs down.😂

"Story Book Cottage Dolls Houses by Dell" ( Even as a kid was branding and selling ) 
My tagline was “Great Gift for all Ages! Years of Enjoyment! What kid thinks about this kind of stuff??? Who was I?? 

"Fully assembled and furnished for 53.00 USD."  The lead time was two weeks. My factory was in my bedroom. I apparently controlled costs by limiting the choice of paint color. 😭 Customers could order a fully customized dollhouse, complete with flowers, a captains’ bed, 2  lounge chairs, coffee table, curio cabinets, table and 4 chairs. 

Storybook Cottage Dollhouse - Greenleaf Dollhouse

Storybook Cottage Dollhouse - Greenleaf Dollhouse

My Sell Sheet - Mom never throws anything away so I have the receipts.

My Sell Sheet - Mom never throws anything away so I have the receipts.

Back when # meant NUMBER! Can you imagine #hashtagging a phone number 😱

Back when # meant NUMBER! Can you imagine #hashtagging a phone number 😱

Dollhouses were (and still are) sold in flat pack boxes, the customer assembled the house and the furniture. This was the part I LOVED.  Someone from my church who knew of my hobby asked me to build one for their kid. I had my first customer. 🎯

I designed (typed) my own sell sheet, samples, pricing list and order form (with up-sell options). My customers could order the ultimate in luxury options, they could select house, trim and shingle paint color. For an additional charge - they could have carpet, curtains, wallpaper, an entire dollhouse family, and whatever "miscellaneous fixtures and furnishings" were. If you wanted to place an order, you filled out the form, called me on the house phone, and paid a deposit. My receipt was on the sell sheet. 

I loved miniatures, and almost 15 years later, I had the opportunity to think in miniature once again as designer and developer for Stickopotamus and later on, Jolee’s sticker line, the first three-dimensional sticker (which rose sticker price points from .99 upwards to 4.99). Thinking in miniature was THE perfect creative process prep for illustration for sticker design. My love of small tiny things was the impetus behind the endless options and line extensions for those enormously successful brands. The DIY in-a-box assembly aspect helped me in my role as VP for the Creativity for Kids brand. Greenleaf Dollhouse influenced many of the creative things loved and created as a product designer. Today you are able to purchase this exact Dollhouse Kit online from $33.00 to $200.00. 

With many years in the art, toy craft business, only this past week did I remember my early venture into the craft business, how could I ever forget that? 😏




Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Vision Boards - Creative Direction - Product Development & Design

This was an interesting project. All the materials were included to create your custom vision board and help you visualize and your goals! Learn how to create vision boards that are both beautiful and inspirational #Visionboard with #design_memory_craft #Vision Board kit! (Instructional kit, fabric planning board, pens, #listing sheets and embellishments)