Behind the Creativity
Here at Faber-Castell USA, we have a lot of fun turning our passion for creativity into fun experiences and thought you would like to learn more about us!
An interview with Mary K., Director of Product Development, Creativity for Kids Brand:
How long have you worked at Faber-Castell USA?
I’ve worked at Faber-Castell USA for 17 years!! Before joining the company, I worked as a kindergarten educator at a local private school. Around that time, my son was given a Creativity for Kids Mask-Making Kit and I absolutely loved the kit! I sent a “fan letter” to Phyllis and Evelyn, the co-founders of Creativity for Kids and asked if they ever needed help developing products. I offered to help them by giving input as a teacher and they hired me!
I was fortunate to have Phyllis Brody, one of the co-founders of Creativity for Kids as my mentor. In fact, I started with the company prior to Faber-Castell (headquartered in Germany) acquiring Creativity for Kids (founded and headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio). The acquisition was a happy one – joining two like-minded, family-owned companies – and created the new US headquarters for Faber-Castell.
What does the Director of Product Development, Creativity for Kids Brand do and why do you like working at Faber-Castell USA?
I work with a talented group of people on our children’s brands including: Creativity for Kids, GROW and CRAFTIVITY. Nurturing an idea through development and then seeing it on a store shelf is pretty exciting stuff! The icing on the cupcake is knowing that our products encourage children to be more creative. My job involves a bit of travel which I really love. New places and new experiences lead to those “eureka” moments, essential to the creative process.
Juggling work and mom duties, my kids have grown up in the Creativity for Kids family. From product testing to sample making my family continues to be a great source of creative inspiration.
Mary and her youngest child, Emily, in Greece in 2015.
Mary’s family. From left: Megan (23), Erin (25), Mary, Adam (28), Emily (20) & husband Greg.
What inspired you to develop Plant a Pizza Garden?
My background is elementary education. In my classroom, spring lesson plans always included a gardening project or two. From growing a bean in a plastic bag, to measuring the growth of our classroom sunflowers. You can have fun and cover a lot of curriculum with gardening– and no one ever complains about the math homework! My favorite part of the kit is really the magic of seed germination. You plant a tiny speck and in a few days, you are rewarded with little sprouts. Gardening teaches nurturing, patience, and delayed gratification. I think those are lessons we can all benefit from. Planting a pizza garden is fun, creative and educational – and it encourages kids to eat their veggies!
One of my favorite aspects of working on this and our other GROW products is having the indoor test garden right outside of my office! Winters in Cleveland can be really long – It’s been fun to plant and harvest fresh basil from our indoor test garden. Our winter basil was turned into a summery caprese salad for a company pot luck lunch.
Talk about your own love of gardening.
I grew up in a family of nine, so gardening was more than just a hobby for all of us. My father used reclaimed bricks and discarded windows to build our greenhouse. We released ladybugs by the boxfuls as natural pest controls, and of course we composted all the grass clippings and fall leaves from our yard. The “new” organic, earth-friendly gardening “trend” is very familiar to me because it is what I have always known. During my years in college, I worked for a local florist/greenhouse where I learned a lot about growing plants and flowers of all varieties. It was the best smelling job I ever had! Even today, I love to do my own gardening at home. Unfortunately, the deer also love my garden. I’m hopeful that the deer and I will reach a mutual garden agreement. Lol.
What is your favorite kind of pizza?
Whatever pizza I am eating at the moment! Pizza slices are like my four children…I love them all for different reasons.
Did you learn anything new during the process of developing this kit?
I was really amazed at how much the grow lights fast-forwarded seed germination. It’s a GREAT tool that functions extremely well for indoor seed planting.
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