Those handprint Thanksgiving Turkeys young children have made for generations may warm the hearts of some mothers, but they sent chills down the spines of Phyllis Brody and Evelyn Greenwald. "They were presented to children as creative experiences, but in reality, it was somebody's initial creativity that children were expected to repeat," says Brody. "We felt children needed more room to express their own creativity rather than being handed these carbon-copy [art] assignments."
To defeat what they dubbed "the turkey syndrome," Brody, 59, and Greenwald, 55, started Creativity for Kids in 1978. The Cleveland company, which Brody says was introduced without fanfare "in the last booth in the furthest, darkest corner" of the 1978 International Toy Fair, now offers about 90 creative play products. The kits, which teach kids everything from jewelry-making and gargoyle carving to multicultural crafts, are sold in specialty toy stores and major toy retailers such as Imaginarium.
While their kits have sparked creativity in children nationwide, Brody, a former family counselor, and Greenwald, a former lawyer, have also sparked creativity in the traditionally stodgy toy industry. And the partners hope to inspire a new generation of entrepreneurial women. "Creativity is more than making things," says Brody. "It's having a vision and figuring out how to make something happen-whether you're painting, making a craft or figuring out how to make something work in the business environment."