Local Artist Creates Toys That Encourage Creative Free Play
We were recently approached by Janet Street, a Northampton artist and entrepreneur who has launched an eco-friendly, open play toy initiative, Easy Keepers, that she is campaigning to fund through Kickstarter, a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding… We were intrigued! I shared Janet’s video that outlines and highlights her toys with my 9yo daughter. Her response, “I’d play with those.” – So we invited Janet to tell us more about her project to share with our readers.
Plus, we’re pleased to partner with her in a fabulous promotion to giveaway a very exciting package of toys and music to one very lucky family! Wait until you see the package she has put together! Along with her husband, local musician Dennis Caraher, they are not only offering a limited edition of her new toys, but also music CD’s and a kids birthday party performance! We’ve gushed about it below, but first we want to tell you about both Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, two really cool ideas!
Easy Keepers are eco-friendly bendable horse toys, created by Northampton artist Janet Street. Janet first came up with the idea and sculpted prototypes in the mid 1990’s but shelved the project until a year ago. With online technology like Kickstarter, and the growing demand for non-toxic, locally-made, creative free-play toys, the time just seemed right to pick back up the prototypes and move forward.
NON-TOXIC: Unable to find an eco-friendly USA manufacturer to make these toys, Janet developed her own process and materials for manufacturing. “My hope is that Easy Keepers will catch on and provide a viable alternative to toys manufactured in China, made of toxic, environmentally harmful plastic, mainly PVC,” writes Janet.
NON-COMMERCIAL: Although the materials are an innovative feature of Easy Keepers, the most important feature by far is the play factor. “It’s a toy that needs no media-driven backstory to dictate what to do with it. No electronics or gimmicks. No overstated “educational” component,” she writes. “My belief is that children want to and need to create their own world of play, using their own imaginations. Toys should be a starting point, an inspiration, for self-discovery.”
Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that showcases creative projects by individuals or groups who are seeking funding. It brings together a community of people looking for project funding with people interested in supporting creative ventures. It provides a format for participants to communicate their idea with a wide audience. The site provides an alternative to traditional funding sources, with the main qualification being a compelling presentation of the project. Supporters receive incentives or rewards for their donation, if the funding goal is met. If not, no funds are paid out. If the funding goal is met or exceeded, the donations are paid and Kickstarter receives a small percentage.
“Kickstarter funding will allow us to hire skilled artisans to help make the molds, cast and finish the toys,” writes Janet. “Otherwise, making toys by hand, in small quantities will make it difficult to price the toys reasonably. With the help of our community and new Kickstarter friends, we hope to reach our funding goal by December 5th.”
Want to find out more about Janet’s project on Kickstarter? Check it out at HERE.
Here’s the amazing package Janet and her husband, Dennis Caraher, are offering (valued at over $400):
- Two limited edition Easy Keepers toys
- Two Carrying Case Barns
- One Easy Keepers Gift Certificate
- Two signed Easy Keepers posters, set of four refrigerator magnets, set of four coasters and bookmark
- Three music CD’s by Dennis Caraher: I Miss the Mud, Dog Bone Town, Bow Wow Baby
- Dennis Caraher Music: Kid’s Birthday Party Performance
Win this packet and have the most amazing birthday party for your favorite kid, presents included!
HOW TO WIN
Your chance to win Janet’s collection outlined above is as easy as 1-2-3 (4)!
To enter to win simply:
- CONSIDER SHARING ON FACEBOOK by selecting the Facebook icon below;
- TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES CONNECTS YOUR FAMILY WITH NEWS & INFORMATION ON NON-COMMERCIAL CREATIVE FREE PLAY below (one entry per household); and be sure to tell us your
- FULL NAME and where you
- LIVE (TOWN/STATE), Must include your town to be eligible.
- ACCURATE EMAIL IN THE EMAIL FIELD BELOW (we never share your email address with a third party).
- We’ll randomly draw a winner and will share the results below.
IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline is Monday, 12/05/11 by midnight (EST).
Find out more about Janet Street, Easy Keepers and Kickstarter, check out her project HERE.