Monday, February 17, 2014

Meet Rose and Satya from Object Art Kits

I've been following Rose Pearlman (she's a cousin!) on Pinterest for a few years and that's how I found her beautiful Brooklyn-based craft business, OAK.  I wasn't surprised--her parents have been involved in the arts for as long as I've known them, running the renowned Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont.  

Rose and her friend, Satya Patel have created beautiful, organic craft supplies for kids and I'm excited for you to meet them!
DM: How did you get started with this business and why?

RP:  It started with a conversation at the playground after picking our sons (Cy and Dilan) up from school. We were being candid about balancing work and family and doing something you love. We both have part-time jobs but we're not feeling entirely fulfilled and we discovered we had a commonality both with our passions, and personal goals for ourselves.

SP:  Soon after that initial playground conversation, Rose showed me some of her craft ideas and we discussed how we could work together to make this into a real business.  That partnership and accountability that it brings was a major factor in getting this business off the ground.

DM:. How do you come up with your products?

RP:   First, we evaluate the project to determine if it is both enjoyable and simple enough for kids to create. Next, we see if it encourages creativity while producing something both beautiful and useful that parents can appreciate and kids will enjoy. Finally, we decide if we can design it so it can be packaged sustainably while keeping it affordable. Some of the kits were years in the making while others are middle of the night inspiration. I always test everything with the students that I teach and my son. If in either case it does not get the enthusiastic thumbs up, it does not get made.

SP:  Rose is instrumental in coming up with many of our project ideas.  Through our collaboration, it has been amazing to see them become an actual product that we can share with others through our website. We’ve spent hours both in shops and online sourcing the best materials for these projects.

DM: What backgrounds do you both have that led you to this business?

RP: I have been an art educator for over 12 years and have taught both in the classroom and in New York City museums. I love to teach but also need to do my own art as well (I am a painter). The two have always fed each other but having a family sometimes makes it a juggling act. OAK is a way I can both create and share with others and not sacrifice the time I get to spend with my son.

SP: I come from a family of business owners (grandparents, father, and brother) and have a small private practice as a career counselor. Over the years, I’ve dabbled in drawing, painting, collage, knitting, crochet, jewelry design, and paper crafts. Similar to Rose, I’ve also wanted to figure out a way to incorporate these interests with a “career” while having the flexibility to be there for my son as he grows up.
DM: What is your favorite item on your website?

RP:  My favorite kit changes all the time and is usually influenced by the one I am developing at that moment. But if I have to choose just one kit as my favorite I would pick the Magnet Collage Kit. It's an art piece and a puzzle and I find myself constantly re-arranging collages on my refrigerator.  I love having art objects that are both form and function. My son made his magnet into a "tangram" puzzle (optional template included in the kit) and it becomes a mathematical educational tool that can be arranged on the magnetic tin case it's stored in which is great for long car rides.

SP:  The Worry Doll Kit is one of my favorite kits because it has helped to relieve my son’s fears of sleeping at night alone in his room.  The worry dolls are created by hand with pipe cleaners and wound with colorful luxury yarn. The worry dolls are inspired by a Guatemalan worry doll legend where children whisper their fears or worries to the dolls who will do the worrying for them at night while they sleep. My son and I have worked together to make him several dolls that he keeps in the pouch (included with the kit) under his pillow at night.
RP: But hands down the best seller and hardest to resist is the Tooth Pouch Kit. Kids use basic sewing skills to sew their own leather necklace pouch that can be worn in preparation for keeping those baby teeth safe whenever they fall out. It comes in a variety of beautiful colored leather, a child safe needle, nylon cord, felt feather and a hand-made tooth bead for optional adornment and 3 mini scrolls for notes to the tooth fairy.  Kids are so proud when they first start loosing their teeth and it's a great gift to celebrate the occasion.
DM: Best and worse thing about being a business owner?

RP:  As a business owner you are always going to have your strengths and weaknesses. Having a business you can't avoid the aspects that you may not be great at or don't enjoy as much (in my case it's the promotional and legality/financial part.) You have to embrace it all, which in the end only makes you stronger. 

SP:  The worst thing about being a business owner is staying focused and motivated even when things don’t go the way you expect them to go.  The best part of being a business owner is having the flexibility in my schedule to do other things that are important to me and having the opportunity to express my creative side.
Thank you Rose and Satya for sharing your can see all the Object Art Kits here.
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