Startup Story: Funky Crayons

a selection of the range of Funky Crayons available

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
Funky Crayons began as a recycling project with my own son last Summer.. I had some Pinterest projects saved and on a day home from school I melted some old crayons that were lying around and we made some new ones. He was so excited at the new shape of them and I had a light bulb moment and realised how many shapes there are out there in silicone moulds.

At that time I was providing full-time care to my aunt who has special needs, my own 3 children and daycare to 2 other children also. I got an alphabet mould and made the names of all the children and gave them as gifts. Everyone reacted so well to them and before long I had people coming to me who heard about them through a friend and wanted some done for them. People were offering money! At this stage I was all out of old crayons so I bought a box of new ones to use. In my search for crayons that were made in Ireland, I realised that there are none.
I lay awake thinking of all the possibilities a crayon manufacturing business could have. I could be Ireland's first crayon manufacturer. Combining this gap in the market with all the ideas I had for what funky shapes to make, I knew there was a real opportunity here. So I took the plunge and started a business. Today Funky Crayons is just about to pass its 1000th worldwide customer, has a range of hundreds of shapes with lots more to come and is a proud Irish business.

All the crayons are still made by hand with a secret blend of non-toxic materials.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
I saw the lack of Irish made crayons and I also saw the joy the different shapes brought to everyone who saw them. Inspired by the last few years of spending my time raising and educating children I know the importance of learning through play. I was excited by the thought of a business that wasn't just commercially viable but would also help people to learn and get back to some basic low-tech fun and use of imagination.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
I provide personalised gifts for any spelling of any name. Funky Crayons are a personalised gift that can be used and played with, not just for decoration.
They are the only crayons made in Ireland, cutting down on the carbon footprint of all the millions that are imported here.
They are easy to hold for children with dexterity issues and then there are others that are great for children working on fine motor skills e.g. button crayons.
They make learning letters and numbers fun and are a great distraction tool in occupational therapy situations.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
Money money money. Like so many other start-ups lack of money to invest in ideas is a major problem. While no one expects to get rich quick, it is sometimes hard to keep your head above water in the early days when every penny you have has to go into the venture.

To overcome this I am seeking help from every angle I can especially our local authorities who provide grant assistance to new enterprises who show potential.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.
hardworking

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
I love seeing Project Eve pop up in my Twitter feed and I feel empowered by some of the stories of people who overcame great obstacles and never gave up. This determination can go under the radar were it not for the Project Eves of this world!

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Listen to your customer and give them what they want. Even if they happen to be a 5 year old.

Company: Funky Crayons

Website: http://www.facebook.com/funkycrayons

Follow my organization on social media here:
@funkycrayonlady
www.facebook.com/funkycrayons
http://www.pinterest.com/mamashell82/

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