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Name: Kim Votruba-Matook
Business: The Artful Educator
Location: Framingham, Massachusetts, U.S.
Industry: Children’s Goods & Services
Reason for starting? My son, George, my firstborn who is now three, inspired the idea for my product, The Artful Alphabet. When he was a newborn, I noticed that some of our relatives (we have many) did not know what to do with George to make the time meaningful for them. It was when I saw that same struggle with my husband that I knew I had to act. I looked for a tool that I could enjoy in my home, specifically my son’s room that could continuously inspire adults to have educational conversations with George…and I couldn’t find it. So I created it.
When The Artful Alphabet received positive feedback from family, friends, parents and teachers, I filed to become an LLC and started The Artful Educator so that I could build my network and formally offer The Artful Alphabet first as art prints, now also as flashcards, custom notecards and custom placemats.
Related: Read about another Children’s Goods & Services entrepreneur here.
How do you define success? Success for The Artful Educator would be to license my art to manufacturers of everyday items (placemats, cups, dishes, rugs, bathmats, puzzles, etc.). The Artful Educator could then accrue passive income through those licensing deals which would allow for me to sustain an income without working full time outside of the house. Then I could have more ownership of my time, spend more time with my children and spend more time on creating new artful and educational products (I have many in my head ready to be laid out!).
Biggest success: A huge accomplishment is creating, designing and producing my educational art product, The Artful Alphabet, which took me two+ years from the idea to a finished product. I designed each letter of the alphabet into a mosaic of items that start with that letter and selected colors that also start with that letter. There are 675 objects in the Artful Alphabet as a whole including geography (all 50 states and some countries), animals, punctuation, food, activities and plants among other topics. So each interaction you have with just one of my letters can create a unique educational opportunity with your kids every time you walk by it in your home.
What is your top challenge and how you have addressed it? As I work full time outside of my business and come home to be a present-minded mama with my two children, I struggle with making the time to think strategically about how to grow my company. So, I decided that if I want to attract licensing opportunities, I need to help manufacturers and licensing agents visualize how the Artful Alphabet can look on a variety of products. So, I am in the process of creating a look book with prototypes of product possibilities. I did some research to find some cost effective ways to create products with my art and will have them professionally photographed and make those photos available on my website, social media and at my vendor booth when attending events.
Related: Top Challenges: Getting More Strategic, Sooner
Who is your most important role model? My role models for work ethic are my parents. My mother worked tirelessly for our church in almost every capacity a laywoman could – Superintendent of Sunday School, Parents Guild, Church Board, Ladies Society; she even made/makes her own canned goods to sell at the church bazaar, one of the parish’s largest fundraisers. My father graduated college when I was seven and even though I was young, I saw how hard he worked working full time, studying in his spare time while helping my mom raise two kids. The focus of creating a better life for my brother and I was paramount in all they did and that focus and drive is what is sustaining my ambition as an entrepreneur. Now it’s my turn to to offer more to my children.
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Edited by The Story Exchange