I am a huge supporter of small companies from Eugene, Oregon. Although I live in NYC, I still feel like a true Eugeneian, and am always so proud of local companies that sell products across the country (and globe!), like Nancy’s Yogurt, Toby’s Tofu, and So Delicious, just to name a few. I am especially in awe of Wee Can Too, a kids art supply company, created by a high school classmate, Sarid Ditton, and her partner Nicole (go South Eugene!). Sarid and Nicole are current examples of exemplary women with a goal and a dream (The Josie Natori of Art Supplies!). Trust me, the products are truly amazing!
Wee Can Too’s mission is to bring art supplies to babies and toddlers by offering the highest quality products made from fruit and vegetable powders, plus plant-based ingredients. YUP — that is right, edible art supplies with organic ingredients! I know, it sounds weird at first, but it makes sense. Kids all the time chew on crayons or lick their fingers after drawing with chalk (for example), and when you think of the ingredients in mainstream art supplies, it makes you want to gag (or run your kid to the emergency room). So, they created safe and edible art supplies for our precious kids. BRILLIANT!
Luckily, I was able to get more information from Wee Can Too on their process and mission. Thank you, Sarid, for the honest and inspirational interview!!!
How did you decide to come up with the concept of Wee Can Too?
My baby girl was 6 months old and as a stay at home mama, I was always looking for something that we could do together. Finger painting was at the top of my list. I have a background in pre-school education and I wanted her to have that artistic outlet, but at the time there was nothing safe enough on the market. Non-toxic wasn’t good enough. It would have to be edible, organic and adhere to an infant diet. I have always been a bit of a crazy scientist, so I started tinkering in the kitchen. It was a matter of creative culinary skills and chemistry, but we came up with our first batch of baby safe (ingestible) paints for Savannah to use. I still have that first painting that she did, I hang it in my office for inspiration.
What made you decide to go from making the products for you and your family to a full fledged business?
I knew it was a product in demand when friends of friends started to request it from me. I started selling at a few baby boutiques in town and that was where Nichole came in. She partnered with me and we realized there was a huge market for “art from the start”.
How do you develop new products?
I am still always tinkering in my kitchen. When I had my son, it was evident that we needed to add Crayons and Chalk to our product line. He was an oral little guy and was always munching on crayons or chalk outside. When I researched how harmful these products can be, it freaked me out and I came up with safe replacements. “Non-toxic” crayons and chalk contain petroleum and lead. These just are not safe for children under 3. I like a challenge. We are starting a sister company that is a cosmetics line. My daughter is 7 now and she loves to experiment with my make-up, so I turned my attention to that. I guess you could say I am inspired by my children. 🙂
What is next? Where do you see yourself with the company in the next 5 years?
I hope to keep doing what we have been doing. Growing our company even further, thinking of new products to add to our line and hopefully as my kids get older, become more immersed in the business. It’s really something to start your own company. It has become a third child. It will be fun to see where we are in another 5 years.
Aside from your products, what are 3 other green kids products you believe in?
Oh, that is a hard one because there are so many great green mama inspired products out there now! I would have to say, Jessica Alba’s new line, The Honest Company. She started natural and safe products that the average mom could afford. I love Amber teething necklaces. They really boomed after my babies were grown, but I love the concept and I am still a major fan! We have also become HUGE fans of Chooze Shoes. Each shoe is a different work of art and my daughter loves her light weight rain boots. They have a great mission and I admire that. Here is the link if you haven’t hear about them.
A bzillion retailers carry your line, how did you get the word out?
A lot of “no’s” for sure, and it’s hard not to take that personally when it is your own creation. On the other hand there have been a lot of “yes’s” too, so we really try to focus on those. With this product, it’s amazing how many people actually hear about us and approach us. It’s such an honor.
Do you yourself make the products? What is the process of coming up with the idea to the end result?
Haha, the idea from start to finish…it’s a lot of trial and error. Coming up with Sidewalk Chalk was about a year long process. I would look at everything for ideas. Smarties, freeze dried fruit…it took me a while to come up with that Chalky consistency without using plaster or limestone. I made the products out of my home office until it outgrew it and we needed to outsource. I still make the cosmetics in my kitchen. 🙂
Who is your customer?
Definitely the new mom. What was meant to be just a baby activity has actually turned into quite an sentimental, emotional experience. We get emails, photos and even videos from moms who used our products and it’s almost like baby taking steps for the first time. First art creations are very special and we are still honored every time we get an honorable mention from one of these moms. Not only an experience, but people are thanking us for making art available to infants, an option that wasn’t there before. It’s like we started an art revolution for babies. That is pretty rewarding.
From the sales, is there a particular region in the US that is more inclined to buy organic art supplies?
Internationally, we definitely noticed a large demand in the UK and Australia. They received these products with huge enthusiasm. Within the U.S. I would say the East and West coast…but not by much. We are really seeing this concept catch on all over the U.S.
Are your two kids big fans of Wee Can Too?
Honestly, not in the beginning, when I was busy making products at home and my kids were so young. It was a challenge to balance everything and get everyone’s needs met. At that time, my daughter was a little jealous of my attention and she said, “I’m gonna call it Wee Can’t Too”…all in all, as mom’s, we do the best we can. No matter if we are stay at home, or working full time, we want the best for our kids, which is why people buy our products. They want the best and highest quality for their kids. I wouldn’t change anything from the past and I think being a strong mother who can create and market products is a great example for both of my kids. I can tell they are both proud of me and even though our products are aimed at a younger artist, they still use our products once in awhile, and they have new questions about it every time. Just the other day we had a blast outside in the sun with our Veggie Sidewalk Chalk…they still can’t believe it’s edible. 🙂
To check out their products, go here. To find local retailers, go here. To like on facebook, go here. To follow on twitter, go here. Thank you SOOO much, Sarid! So in awe of you for creating this eco friendly, intuitive, unique, and children focused product. Amazing!