Since this is my blog I decided to be a bit more candid with this page and share more than just the usual way that people introduce themselves.
I started Grow Books simply because, I love books, I love design and I love making things for my kids that I think other people would like to use as well, it is somewhat of an addiction and possibly an affliction. My book making started when I was about 8 years old. My parents owned a furniture store where we spent most of our time on weekends and after school. I remember a day crouched behind the check out counter making books from a wallpaper sample catalog. I remember loving the texture of the wallpapers and how some smelled like vinyl, others felt scratchy and some were reflective and smooth. For some reason I had to cut them up and make them into books, not just one but several, I think this was my first edition. I don’t even remember if there was a story but people seemed to like them. It was the encouragement that I received when I made stuff that kept me going. As I grew we moved several more times, from South Carolina, to Texas, El Paso and Laredo, where I graduated from High School. It was living in border towns where it was generally 113 deg, being the new kid in town, and let’s face it kind of awkward that drove me to keep creating things, when I was bored I made stuff. I got my first sewing machine when I was 12 and haven’t looked back since.
It was after grad school, and making, by hand, 300 copies of books for my thesis show and creating my first mini store that truly got me started with the addiction. I sent my books off into the world and I got the same encouragement that I had gotten when I was little, people liked them, and bought them (they were only $5). I started to love this way of communicating with the world as an independent artist/designer.
After having kids, I like most designers who have kids, became engrossed in the world of how my kids are growing up and what they are being taught at school. I found myself at this moment where I realized that I could make some things that I think improve upon the educational shortfalls and structure of the classroom. I find that, as my kids grow they become more and more about a modern way of being and thinking which is very much about following the rules and doing what the instructions say in a very regimented way, and losing interest in things very quickly or as soon as they become “hard”. Buying “crafts” that come in boxes is a prime example of what “sells” but not a very good way for teaching kids to be creative. I want kids to want to make stuff from scraps of fabric they have laying around the house instead, no instructions required.
I like many parents drop my kids off at school for 8 hours a day. At the end of the day I rush home, barely make dinner, do the bedtime routine and collapse from exhaustion. All of us work and we work really hard, a work that follows us home on our laptops, phones, and i-devices but I also want to inform how my kids take in the world. With Imagine Your World I felt like KJ and I were really onto something. We knew it had to be challenging for kids and also for us as parents, because it does require us to be involved but in a different way than homework. The sheets were designed to entice creative outlets that stem from them and to be more than pieces of paper with instructions (which I designed to be very loose). They are the spring board into an imaginary world that only they can go into. All of the products I am developing stem from this same idea, allowing kids the freedom to decide how they want something to be and it can be anything they want. In the coming year I will be releasing several books, all holding our eco-mission true, the mini houses, and other cardboard play things that just set the stage for creativity, but don’t rob them of their own.
I feel like I have found the place where I need to be as a designer. For me I am craving pats on the head, and an opportunity to teach kids more than just how to follow instructions. With the coming releases of our books and toys all will take kids into this amazing place where we all like to go, our imaginations! Join us!