After enjoying careers in printing management and graphic design, two local parents combined their talents to create a brand new product for kids… and it is coming to the aid of parents, room parents, scout leaders, and teachers everywhere.
Mark and Trish Witkowski are the husband-and-wife team behind the company, which offers pre-punched paper craft kits in a variety of designs.
“When our two kids were younger, I used ideas from my folding background to make little folded cards and critters with them at home, which led to requests to make the projects at school with their classmates. Year after year, the kids (and the teachers and room moms) all went crazy for the crafts, but the work and preparation for one 20-minute project for 23 kids was exhausting. Coming up with the project, then finding all of the parts and pieces in stores and online, then pulling it all together to cut and divvy up. It was hours of work, and it was expensive, too,” said Trish.
So she started looking for short cuts — using paper punches and sending out for laser cutting services to save time. Which led them to a realization: the biggest obstacle to paper crafting was the cutting.
“If we could cut everything for everyone, almost every project would become virtually fail-proof,” said Trish.
(Can you hear room moms and teachers everywhere cheering?)
While the kits are complete sets of precut paper pieces that assemble various shapes, Trish and Mark are both continually amazed at how creative kids are when working through a kit! They’ve seen kids turn the characters into bookmarks, napkin holders, ornaments, strands of garland, and even created their own characters. All paper is responsibly-sourced paper that contains recycled content, and all of FreshCut’s products are manufactured in the United States. The duo is committed to generating as little waste as possible in their manufacturing process. They even make their own craft eyes to avoid traditional bulky plastic google eyes. FreshCut’s craft eyes are made of paper and they have a little dome of clear shine on them that looks like a google eye, but they are much better for the environment and easier to use.
FreshCut Craft designs include everything from Puppy Pop-Up Cards to Woodland Creatures and Magical Friends. The Garden Friends Kit is Trish’s favorite because it includes some of the characters that started it all — the bumble bee and ladybug.
As a family-focused start-up, Trish and Mark have naturally integrated their kids into the business. (Their daughter jokes about “Family Fold Night,” evenings when they gather together to assemble the craft kits).
“Our kids are at the perfect age (11 and 12) for learning about starting and running a business,” said Trish. “We have immersed them in every part of the process—from design, testing, production, marketing, and inventory management. They’re kids, so there are definitely things that they can’t do or don’t have the stamina for, but it’s amazing how much they can help us.”
For every trade or craft show that the kids attend, they get a share of the profit. If the show is a bust, so are the shares.
“We don’t sugar-coat it for them. The process can be gritty and exhausting, but it’s exhilarating, too. They’re learning about how much work it is, and how important the brand, the message, and the company values are. It’s fun to work together to achieve a goal as a family,” said Trish.
FreshCut Crafts is definitely a local business powered by kids and family… and of course, coffee.
“We both put a little too much cream and sweetener in our coffee, but we love it!” said Trish.
Let’s have coffee! Know of a Baltimore area parent doing really (cool) things? Or — hey — are you that parent? We want to have coffee! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know. Photos by Laura Black.