Anyone with a child in school knows how much art they can bring home in just one school year. These silly little drawings and paintings are symbols of childhood, but they also tend to take up a lot of room. Even if you have plenty of space to store them, time ages all things including those special pieces of art your child created when they were younger.

When Gabrielle was looking for a way to turn the art her son made into a book, she found nothing. Thankfully she didn’t give up. Because of her determination to do something about that problem, and bringing in a business partner, Gabrielle and Paula have managed to create what promises to be a very successful business venture known as The Picasso Kid.

If anyone is interested in viewing some of their products in person, both women will also be at Encinitas Oktoberfest on Sunday, September 21st.

What is The Picasso Kid and how long has it been since it launched?

We are a small home based company started by a stay at home mother. We are a retail/service business. We take children’s artwork and turn it into a beautiful hard cover photo art book. (Think coffee table book.) The whole idea is to save the image, but get rid of all the paper being stored in your house because eventually, it will fade and deteriorate. This way condenses the boxes of artwork down to a 10X8 book that you can put on a bookshelf and easily share with friends and family!

We launched on March 3, 2008 (Gabrielle’s mother’s birthday.)

What was the inspiration behind your business?

Gabrielle’s son, Joseph, was in First Grade when she was cleaning out his closet and realized he had 3 boxes of art. (She had two boxes from preschool and one from Kindergarten.) She looked at the pictures and thought about throwing them all away, but she just couldn’t do it. She thought he would like to see them when he grows up, and she can look at them all day long! She thought, “There’s got to be a better way!” She searched online, but didn’t find anything, so she created The Picasso Kid.


How much time goes into making an art photo book? What does the process include?

It takes us about 6-8 hours to design a beautiful photo art book that parents and children will cherish FOREVER! We collect the art from the family, and either scan or photograph the art. (We digitally photograph any art that is bigger than my scanner, or if it is a 3D item.) We design the layout of the book and then it is printed and sent to the family. It is a fairly simple procedure which takes about four to six weeks from the time of the order to the time they get their book.

What niche do you feel your business is able to fill? What separates you from any competition you might have?

Most parents are faced with the same problem. What do you do with all that artwork? There are a dozen different ways to deal with it, but we feel this is the BEST solution. It helps you to save precious memories while clearing a mountain of clutter from your home. What can be better than that?

What are some of the benefits of making a photo book for children’s art? What kind of feedback have you seen from your customers?

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” We encourage children to be creative throughout their lives. The books give children a sense of pride and accomplishment because you took interest in their work. It gives their self confidence a huge boost. There is no right or wrong way to do art! Every child can do it. As a company, our main focus is on the books. Our idea is to do one book per year so that the time they graduate high school, they can have a complete set and see their artistic progression. We have had a tremendous amount of positive feedback from parents. They need this solution because it eliminates the guilt of throwing away the piles of paper!

Why did both of you decide to become entrepreneurs? Did you have any previous experiences that has helped you in this start-up?
Gabrielle:

I was on maternity leave and I was unable to return to work due to medical reasons, so the company had to fill my position. I decided that I didn’t want to work for someone else again. I wanted to stay home with my kids and I wanted to be my own boss. My previous experience was as a retail manager, so I believe that my experience has definitely helped me have the confidence to start and run my own company. However, without the help of my business partner, Paula Silverfarb, it would have taken me a lot longer to launch.

Paula:

I have been working for other people for over 30 years. For a long time I had a dream of creating a successful business of my own. I finally took the plunge and left my long-time career to launch my first web business 2.5 yrs ago. I had some previous experience working with my ex-husband in his family’s business selling various items at county fairs. I got a taste of what it was like to rely solely on yourself for your livelihood and how much work it takes to persevere. I knew nothing about e-commerce when I chose this as my business, so I spent months learning as much as I can before launching my first web store.

Do you have any long-term goals or hopes for The Picasso Kid? Any intentions of expanding past art books into any other areas?

Yes, we have a lot of hopes and dreams for our business. Although, we are open to all possibilities in the future, Paula and I have a great idea for a scrapbooking store that could include The Picasso Kid. It would be a place for the entire family. That idea is definitely in the future, though. Right now we are starting with the books and we will add more products as our customer base requires it. We have several ideas for additional items.

How much does it cost for one book? Do you offer any bulk rates for someone interested in ordering multiple books?

The Portfolio style book starts at $74.95 for the first book; duplicates of the same book are half price. All books are 8″ x 10” landscape size; included is a personalized glossy dust jacket, and 40 pages*. All pages are 80lb. coated semi-matte paper, are archival safe, and acid free. The books are professionally bound with a black linen hardcover designed to last hundreds of years! The Portfolio style offers one image per page; maximum size with full bleed to the edges with out captions. (See website for 2 more style options at www.thepicassokid.com.) *Add $50.00 for photo services up to 80 images and additional pages are $1.00 each.

We are currently working on special package deals for multiple children as well as a smaller sized book for gifts.

Has there been any problems that the two of you have had to face (during start-up, or growth), and what have you learned from those experiences?

Our main problem is the lack of capital. Neither of us is able to receive an income to focus on our business 100% of our time. Gabrielle has her four year old daughter home with her and at times is unable to focus on the business completely. The other problem is the time it takes to run the website, market to our ideal customers and get the word out about our business. It takes a lot of time just to communicate with and build relationships with bloggers and other businesses. We could really use a mentor with experience to guide us and help keep us focused on our goals.

What advice do you have for people interested in starting their own business?

Don’t quit your paying job if you don’t have to right away. Research on the internet. There is a lot of helpful information on the internet today that can help you. Make sure it is something that you are passionate about because you are going to be doing it for a long period of time. Find out everything about the industry that you can so you can find out if it is really something that is feasible for you. All things are possible, but it doesn’t hurt to be as prepared as possible. This is still America and the land of opportunity! Go for it!

Originally posted by Angela Shupe on September 16, 2008 in Interviews.

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