It’s a warm summer day, the sound of lawnmowers running and the steady raps of a woodpecker nipping away at a tree echo about the neighborhood. In the free time of a Saturday morning, a mother is relaxing with her two daughters, watching as they focus on decorating the back of a hand mirror with vibrant, colored paints. Beside cups of rinse water and discarded brushes, the face of Frida Kahlo watches over the girls’ progress. This mirror craft was created as an homage to Frida, an artist whose creations transcend her own lifetime. As the girls paint, they grow more curious about the woman pictured on their craft’s box. Their mother pulls a card from the box, and watches as her daughters’ eyes alight as she tells Frida’s story, a woman who rose to become one of the greatest artists of all time by force of her talent and will. She is a trailblazer, a mighty woman of the past. In fact, she is one of many.
Frida’s story still resonates with girls today; proof of a woman’s capability to succeed in all she dreams of when she is armed with confidence and belief in herself. To generate these same sentiments in her daughters and girls around the world became the mission of Kirsten Field, a mission which she has realized through her company, Kids Crafts. She aims to educate and empower girls through the power of hands-on, quality crafts. We sat down and chatted with Kirsten about her business, her philosophy, and her vision for this Women’s History Month.
Could you give us an introduction to your company and its values?
Kids Crafts has been around since 2013, but we started as a wholesaler supplying craft kits to stores like Bass Pro Shops, Macy’s, and Cabela’s for their in-store kids events. I was the one that would work with their marketing manager and develop theme crafts around their events. So, when kids would go into the stores, they would be handing out these craft kits. That was my whole business from 2013 to 2019. We grew to supply over 3.6 million crafts in 2019, so this was a huge business. But then COVID hit and every event got canceled due to the new restrictions.
So, I was forced to look closely at my business because we had no social media presence. We had just been working directly with the stores’ marketing managers and their special event managers. So, then I was thinking, ‘Crafts are our wheelhouse. I know how to create a craft, and I know how to create mass quantities of crafts.’ That wasn’t my problem. I knew how to import everything, but the question was, what was going to differentiate me?
I have two girls, one is 15 and one is 12. I go into stores like Target and Meijer and look at the crafts on the shelves. You can already get a dreamcatcher craft, so what’s going to make my dreamcatcher craft different from any others on the market? That’s what really sparked the idea of attaching these crafts to trailblazing women that had dreams. Those women, they caught their dreams. In this context, you create a dreamcatcher, but it’s a tangible representation of the story of that mighty woman who had a dream and followed it.
I started creating crafts around mighty, trailblazing women. For instance, take Maya Angelou. Her famous quote is, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” The craft inspired by her is themed around a rainbow. This is similar to the Rosa Parks craft. The little beads at the top of the punch needle craft are the colors of the bus she was on. We work hard to incorporate things that are themed around these women. Frida Kahlo was known for her painted self-portraits. So what if we created a painting craft? We decided to make a painted mirror craft kit. It then becomes a reflection of the girl making the craft.
LeadHER, InnovateHER, and CreateHER
Kids Crafts have organized their products into three distinct lines: LeadHER, InnovateHER, and CreateHER. LeadHER serves to share the stories of female trailblazers through the power of crafts, InnovateHER provides girls with everything they need to make and sell a craft, and CreateHER allows girls to take the reins in a DIY crafting experience.
What is the impact that you hope to have on girls with these chosen themes?
There are LeadHER question cards that are included within each craft. Those serve as a parental resource from which to talk with your tween girl about a time when you used your voice for change, or when you stood up for something that you believed in. The idea is to look at each girl and how she can use her voice for change, how she could be a leader in her school or in her friendships.
So the next question is, how do we empower young girls? The answer came in the form of the InnovateHER line. My girls have seen me in business since 2013 and it has sparked their interest in entrepreneurship. This line of crafts is all about creating your crafts, like popping paperclips, cupcake toppers or key chains. We also include all of the materials they need to package their craft and sell it at the end of the driveway as a finished product. We include a mighty girl business plan which takes them through how to price their items for sale and how to advertise. It’s a tween version of how to start a business.
Selecting Mighty Women
Can you walk us through the process of how you select the women that you feature? What sort of qualifiers do you look for?
We have a list of about 40 trailblazing women that have made really significant impacts. We got the idea in February of 2021 and we went to market in November. So this was a really fast rebranding return. For those first eight women that we selected, it was mainly based on their popularity and their well-known status. We wanted to come out with a bang of people that are super familiar. Now, we will start moving through the list. We have women like Ella Fitzgerald, Juliet Gordon Low, and Michelle Obama. They are on our docket for upcoming projects.
Women’s History Month
As we are currently in Women’s History Month, can you tell us a bit about what this means to you and your company?
In terms of women’s history, I think it’s so important for girls to know that they are capable of anything. We want them to know their worth. For our generation and the upcoming generation, it’s so important to be a model of what a female is as an entrepreneur. I’m a mom, but I can do this. We must recognize the women that have come before us in history and the strides that they’ve had to take to get to where they are.
There are trailblazers that have walked this trail so that women in our day and age are able to have the opportunities that we do. More female leaders are emerging and more female CEOs are out there, and I think it’s only going to continue to progress. It’s not a secret that we haven’t shattered that glass ceiling and that we are still striving for equality and pay as women. But we need to show girls that they’re capable and they deserve the exact same rights and the exact same pay, benefits, and opportunities as men.
The Mighty Girl Movement
Could you describe the purpose behind the Mighty Girl Movement?
It goes beyond just talking about being a girl. We have the Mighty Girl Movement so as we grow, we can spotlight more trailblazers: girls in the community that are nominated weekly for the amazing things that they’re doing. Girls that are just like you and me are using their voice and doing amazing actions that impact others much like the mighty trailblazers before them.
The Impact of the Pandemic
How has the pandemic affected the need for crafts?
There have been many hardships of the pandemic, but a large one is parents working from home, trying to keep their kids busy and feeling this immense guilt of them being on their screens all the time. The internet search of activities for kids has gone up over a hundred percent.
Our hope is that through doing the crafts, it’s a way to be creative and learn. We’re trying to combine education and creativity. Our hope is that you can hang the finished craft in your room and be reminded of the story of that famous trailblazer. Every craft that we create is meant to be something that you’re able to display in your room proudly.
Where do you hope to take Kids Crafts in the future?
I’ve had conversations with Target, Macy’s, Walmart, Bloomingdale’s, Uncommon Goods, and places like that. We’re really trying to get out there as fast as we can. Since something like this isn’t really on the market, bigger craft companies could just take it and run. So, we want to establish who we are as Kids Crafts.
Paying It Forward
How is Kids Crafts impacting women in business?
Everybody on our team is a woman. I have a graphic designer, a copywriter, and a marketing specialist. Also, for all of our craft kits, you’ll notice the woman on the front of the box– she has a unique nose, which is like our signature now. We actually hired an illustrator from France to do all of our artwork. She created the covers and the stickers and all of the pages that are designed. We’re in the middle of creating a coloring book and she’s creating the hundred or so pages of that. She’s just an amazing artist.
What makes this feel good to me is that when I’m paying these people, it’s helping their women-owned small businesses. Our graphic designer owns her own little business. She’s a stay at home mom and does this out of her house. Our artist in France is an artist creating out of her apartment. It feels so good to be able to pay it forward to them and to their own small businesses. The more we can get our name out there, the more that we can give back to them. It helps all of these women along the way.
The mirrors are now complete, its back filled with spirited hues. The woman watches as her daughters lift them to their faces and see themselves reflected back. They both smile widely. In one girl’s mirror, she sees the face of a future entrepreneur. For the other, she sees the face of an astronaut. Others beyond them might see the face of a doctor, an artist, or perhaps an engineer. The bottom line? Girls could see themselves as anything, and all that they can see, they can achieve. The girls glance at the box for their craft, seeing the face of Frida still watching them gently. Emboldened by her story, they allow themselves to begin to dream further than they ever had before.