Paint by Pom Pom is a new addition to the DIY market intended for children ages five and older. Akin to paint-by-numbers, these $19.99 Pom-Pom sets come with a template, a frame, and brightly colored pom-poms to create a striking and three-dimensional piece of set with. As of now, three patterns are a available—a dinosaur, a unicorn, and a kitten—but more options will be added to the line soon. All artists have to do to add the pom-poms is peel back the plastic adhesive cover to reveal a sticky board, no messy glue is required! Then simply match the correct Pom-Pom color to the number printed on the board.
Founder Samantha Martin launched her marketing brand, Media Maison over 14 years ago, long before she dove into the arena of DIY pom-pom art. Her experiences in publicity prepared her for the throes of entrepreneurship from branding, to packing, to advertising. Samantha comes from a long-time of toy makers. Born and raised in Hong Kong and fluent in Cantonese, Samantha is passionate about startup companies so it is very befitting that she has now started her own.
Samantha recently discussed her experiences working in PR and with pom-poms via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in crafts kits and how did you break into the toys/DIY industry?
Samantha Martin (SM): My family has been in the toy manufacturing business for three generations. I was born and raised in Hong Kong and my grandfather Frank Gardner made the first battery operated toy. My mother Angela Gardner has run a toy manufacturing company for over 40 years, Castlespring.com – making products for the top toy companies in the world including Hasbro, Disney, Lakeshore Learning, and many more. I never wanted to follow in their footsteps but instead pursued a career in Public relations with a division of our firm focusing on the toy and game industry. Over the years I have had ideas for toys and games but always in the space of “creativity” – crafting, dress up, imagination play, etc.
MM: What inspired “Pom-Pom Painting” and how did you select the templates?
SM: Pom-poms were everywhere last year – from accessories to jewelry and handbags. In every crafting kit you buy – there is also a package of pom poms. I thought how fun it would be to have a crafting project that was just centered around Pom Poms. The softness and ease of the product made it something a child or adult might have fun doing – and even kids with special needs. We decided on the dog, cat, dino, and unicorn as they were four characters that we believed kids would like – and especially the unicorn which was and is such a popular character for kids.
MM: How long did it take you to design this craft kit from start to finish?
SM: About 5 months from idea to finished product.
MM: How different did the prototype look from the final product?
SM: We started with the pom pom’s needing to be glued to the image and from there we felt having the peel back adhesive was a much easier way for kids to craft and for parents not needed for supervision. The peel back plastic film changed everything – it made it a much easier crafting item for kids and we even found seniors who loved the product as it helped with hand/eye coordination and no scissors or glue made it something anyone could do.
MM: Was it difficult to find a manufacturer?
SM: As mentioned above – my family has been manufacturing for years so of course, they manufactured this product. I have referred so many clients to my mother’s company because it can be costly when you just try and google a China factory. You never know what you’re going to get – so my mom having done this for so many years has worked with every type of factory in China and has built relationships with them over the past 40+ years.
MM: What has been some of the coolest feedback you’ve gotten about this activity?
SM: I love hearing from parents of kids with special needs – saying how this product has been an incredible addition. That it’s helped with sensory issues. Parents have been sharing their finished products on social media and the feedback has been nothing but positive. We love when kids decide not to follow the “color by number” instruction and decide to use their pom poms wherever they want – increasing creativity.
MM: Have you designed any other games and/or DIY kits?
SM: Yes, I designed a product several years ago called Props in a Box – a very unique take on gender-neutral dress up and make believe with an accompanying app. It was a box that came with 2 characters – a dino and a pirate for example. All the dress-up items were made from felt and it came with a 6 ft hand-illustrated backdrop. The app allowed for the filming of movies, adding special effects and where the kid could be the director and mom could be the pirate. It was then followed up with Props in a Bag – a single character dress up set.
MM: Are you currently working on any new games or initiatives that you’re especially excited about?
SM: We are expanding Paint by Pom Pom to the senior and adult market with more mature images – classic paintings such as The Girl with the Pearl Earring. We also have a new “upcycle” paper project which allows kids to make beads and jewelry out of old magazines and newspapers.
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