The Creativity for Kids booth at the 2016 North American International Toy Fair at the Javits Center was packed yesterday afternoon in celebration of the 40th anniversary of its founding.
“When Creativity for Kids began in 1976, it was the first creative activity kit in the marketplace to really encourage and develop childhood creativity,” Jamie Gallagher, CEO of parent company Faber-Castell USA, said earlier. “To see how these products have evolved and continue to inspire kids of all ages is something we’re extremely proud of.”
In toasting Creativity for Kids and its “co-founder and inspiration” Phyllis Brody, Gallagher cited “those things that endure and stand the test of time.” Also before the celebration, Brody recalled how she and Evelyn Greenwald launched the company in Cleveland in 1976 from her basement—on its ping-pong table, to be precise–after volunteering at a children’s school and observing a lack of creativity among young students.
So they started putting together “creative art bags” with various materials like feathers and clothespins, packaging them in burlap and getting local retailers to sell them. They first exhibited at Toy Fair in 1978; Playthings Magazine later created its Creative Activities category, for which Creativity for Kids was the sole brand listed.
In 2010, Brody, who now works on special projects for the company in ensuring its legacy, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The American Specialty Toy Retailer Association (ASTRA).
“I dreamed that children everywhere would have the opportunity to be creative, but I did not expect to have what is now an international brand,” said Brody. “I’m basically so proud of what we started and the people we attracted to work with us—and our customers. It’s been a team effort over the last 40 years.”
She also credited her and Greenwald’s vision of “a single-issue company” focusing on “the power of creativity” and now, under the Faber-Castell umbrella, covering a full age range.
“It’s a pre-Shark Tank company,” she added, “but it’s so much the opposite: It was made from the heart, and fortunately still is.”
Meanwhile, Creativity for Kids is introducing 10 new craft activity kits at Toy Fair: Create Your World globes, Light My Bike Basket bicycle baskets with LED lights, Light-Up Doodle Art, Pom Pom Rug, Hanging Around Unicorn wall art, Light-up Heart Marquee, Light-Up Water Globe, Make Your Own Wee Water Globes, Planet Peace planting kits and a Flower Fleece Pillow to go with the Deluxe Easy Weave Fleece Blanket.
Additionally, Faber-Castell USA is introducing two new product lines: CRAFTIVITY, featuring craft activities for aspirational tweens and teens, and Spark!Lab Smithsonian, a Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) line inspired by the Spark!Lab center at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. and teaching the process of invention.