Growing up in a creative household with nine siblings instilled a deep love of crafting in entrepreneur Robin Brackbill. Thirteen years ago, Brackbill took that artistic passion and turned it into Fabby-Do, a crafts cafe for kids. At her Doylestown, Pennsylvania event space, children can enjoy dozens of activities that encourage imagination and creativity – from ceramic painting, sand art and jewelry design to costumes and make-your-own bath product kits, Fabby-Do is an epicenter for crafty kids’ parties, playdates and classes.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about why you started your business.
I believe that kids grow best through imagination, encouragement and community. I wanted to provide a fun space where kids can use their hands and minds in a creative way, free from the constant distractions of today’s technology. My education was in the arts, so I built a space for kids based on what I know and love to do. I also added elements of what brings me joy, and the result is the Fabby-Do Creativity Cafe.
It has a retro feel and “Willy Wonka” spirit, and is a place where kids can come to celebrate birthdays, parties and special events. I find that kids come away from Fabby-Do with a boost of self-confidence, an appreciation for working with their hands and minds, and a memorable experience. This is what energized me as a kid and I’m so fortunate to provide this opportunity for others now.
How is your business different from others in your industry?
I strive to create a unique and memorable experience. There are plenty of places where kids can have a party or engage in arts and crafts – but there are very few places where a child can be provided the materials, then given free rein over the design, as no directions are provided at Fabby-Do! We’ve built a unique atmosphere with this business.
Tell us about your biggest success so far.
My biggest successes are the teenagers who come back to Fabby-Do when they are looking for their first job! They were inspired as former “clients” and want to pass along those magical experiences to younger kids.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
Maintaining a steady business through the Covid pandemic was a significant challenge. We were unable to keep the business open during its regular hours due to local safety measures and personnel changes. This caused us to pivot and create a “virtual” version of Fabby-Do. We moved many of our offerings to an online store so that Fabby-Do could be experienced at home. A silver lining of the pandemic is that I was able to find the means to promote my business through social media in ways that have opened many doors I would not have imagined.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
I am the eldest of 10 children, so I grew up with limited resources and a lot of imagination. Fortunately, it was a home where the arts were greatly encouraged – whether crafts, the performance arts, or music, we always had a play partner and an audience. Most importantly, many memorable experiences were made during my formative years at home, and these have produced a sense of self-worth, and strong bonds. These outcomes are what helped me define the vision for my business.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
The more personality you can inject into your brand, the more you will resonate deeply with a key segment of the market. You might not be everyone’s favorite or their “cup of tea,” but those that like you will love you.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I remind myself of the inspiration that many kids receive when they come to Fabby-Do.
What is your go to song to get motivated on tough days?
“Sweet Dreams” by Annie Lennox.
Who is your most important role model?
I often think of my visions as similar to Marth Stewart’s: focused on crafts and aesthetics while building a media empire around those themes. Of course, my focus is on kids’ creativity – with a touch of Peewee Herman quirkiness. ◼
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