So Awesome Brand Offers Gifts For KidsBy Jane Whitttington on October 19th, 2016 /
When Marie-Claire Camp’s twin sons were little, their favorite toy was gift cards. No, not the things that were purchased with gift cards. The gift cards themselves. Plastic, colorful, smooth, fun to chew, and just the right size for little hands. Camp looked for a child’s plaything with the same allure as those gift cards and came up short. That’s when she decided that if what she wanted wasn’t out there in the marketplace, she’d make it happen. With a degree in graphic design from Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids and what she’d learned from being a mom, she had the skills to come up with a product that would appeal to children and parents alike that would be durable, safe, and reasonably priced.
Four years ago, Camp took to Kickstarter to finance her company, which she called You Guys Are So Awesome—the “s” and “o” standing for her twins, Silas and Owen, since they were the ones who inspired her venture. Her Kickstarter campaign was a success and raised 112 percent of its goal.
Camp has also received small grants from Start Garden, an entrepreneurial incubator in Grand Rapids.
Camp’s mother had been a Montessori teacher, and Camp herself had attended Montessori schools until she entered high school when that option was no longer available. Taking her cues from the Montessori philosophy and with input from her mother and her years of experience, Camp’s first product was an alphabet deck.
These non-toxic, credit-card style cards with colorful pictures and letters were gathered on a plastic ring, resembling a key ring. There was a steep learning curve in this first iteration as Camp explored options in design, materials, art, photography, production and marketing. The first batch of 1,000 alphabet cards sold out, and Camp was on to the next level. Another Kickstarter campaign to fund four new card sets was also successful, and Camp created cards depicting emotions, the seasons, pets and pet care and houses.
Camp says, “I loved making the emotions card pack. A photographer took over 1,000 pictures of kids showing many different emotions, and we were able to pick the best for this card set. On the back are drawings of these same emotions. Kids really relate to these photos and can use the cards to express emotions they may not be able to verbalize.”
The cards are intended for children from birth to about age nine and have proven very useful for children with communication difficulties and for adults with developmental delays.
The latest sets, which came out in 2015, include public transportation with replica bus passes, subway cards and the like; “Go” which includes all the ways people travel, “My Wallet”, a series of cards replicating what adults might carry in their wallets; and a set of numbers.
Camp admits, “I may not be the best entrepreneur, as my accountant points out to me, because I tend to give things away. Last Christmas, for every set I sold, I gave one set away to either Autism Support, Mary Free Bed (a rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids), or the Literacy Center.”
Camp points out that her card sets are ideal for traveling with kids, attaching to strollers or car seats and for quiet play either by children exploring them alone or facilitating communication between parents and children. They have proven very popular for use in Montessori classrooms and with homeschoolers.
All the sets are available online and also at 45 different retailers throughout the United States. They range in price from $5 to $22.
As the holidays approach, visit the website at www.youguysaresoawesome.com for great gifts for all the children you love.