I’m excited to share with you today about Renegade Made Art and Activity Kits. These creative kits are the brain child of Nicole Jakob (Chief Renegade), a former graphic design artist and mom from Winnetka. You may have already heard about these fun and creative Art and Activity Kits as Nicole has been making the rounds on TV (watch segment here) and in the Chicago Tribune (check out a good article here). You can watch a clip from Chicago news at the bottom of this interview.
I was happy to get a chance to chat with Nicole about these Art and Activity Kits, and wanted to be sure and share the information with you all – as I think they would make both fun kits to have at home during the summer for your kids, but they could also be used as a children’s or youth ministry activity during the summer and I think you could have a lot of fun with it.
Illustrated Ministry (ICM): We love the idea behind your tagline: “Overtly Creative, Covertly Kind.” There must be a story behind where this idea came from, right? What was your inspiration for these fun products?
Nicole Jakob (NJ): As a kid who was into acting and art, my room was not filled with trophies. They were mostly given out for sports, and I never excelled at any. When I finally was awarded a medal for an art contest (along with a transistor radio-woot! woot!), it meant the world to me. My husband Mike and I felt that our kids did not have the same experience growing up.
Of course they are talented and each mastered their own things, but their rooms were filled with trophies, ribbons, medals, and certificates for things they had done, just like all of their friends. We wondered how all of those kids could be that gifted and what did this piece of plastic or constant praise even mean to them if everyone one the team or in the class had one.
One glance at your Facebook News Feed would have you assume that we are in the company of the most amazing, giving kids on the planet. They are beloved by their parents; their parents are as justifiably proud of them as we are with our kids, but when an act of charity or kindness that is done garners so much attention, does it help you to be a good person when no one is watching? Out of this, Renegade Made was born.
I decided that it had to funky and different, slightly edgy, but all in the name of KIND. No kid is going to get excited if we hand them something and tell them that it teaches them to be good. You have to make sure that they are enjoying what they are doing, and while they are having fun doing a project, they will realize that it is also fun and feels good to make other people happy.
ICM: Have you been able to test any of these out with your own kids? What did they think?
NJ: My daughter Meeghan, who is now twelve, was the main product/ idea tester. Since these kits are aimed at ages 8+, over my three years of development, she has been in the sweet spot as a tween to give me valuable feedback. We’ve “tagged” every inch of our driveway, made flowers, posted signs, decorated postcards and tattooed each other endlessly. It’s very exciting for all of us, but she’s the most excited. SO much more excited than when I tried inventing broccoli ice cream.
ICM: What is your hope for these products? Do you have a grand vision for how these products might affect kids?
NJ: What I most hope for, is that they are a great disruptor in the world of toys. I hope that the idea of helping people is the next big idea, and not just something that parents ask their kids to do (cue eyerolling kids). I really want kids to know the feeling and the power they have to do something. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture, it doesn’t have to be running a 5K or selling cookies door to door. It can be something silly and fun where making someone smile is the best side effect.
ICM: Who are these products good for? Individual families? Church youth groups? How do you imagine people using your products?
NJ: A very unique aspect of these kits is the fact that they can either be done by one kid, a few, or a group of kids. If you have a child who’s a little more shy or introverted, these kits are something that they can spend time working on at home, and then it’s another activity to go out into the world with it. Every kit contains a bandit mask to put the emphasis on anonymity, so with the exception of the Tattoo Lounge, they don’t have to directly interact with people if they choose not to.
Take our Sidewalk Chalk Tagging kit: one child can mix the chalk paint and use the stencils to “tag” funny or thoughtful messages around the town sidewalks, but it’s just as fun with an accomplice. If you have a social butterfly, a scouting group, a church group or birthday party- these are great activities that really solidify the message that your trying to instill in children.
The Made You Look kit contains things like twelve flyers to decorate and post around town that either make people laugh or that exhibit little acts of kindness, five post cards to color, write sweet messages and leave behind for people, which would be a wonderful group activity.
Our Fairly Painless Tattoo Lounge is a new twist on the age old lemonade stand. Kids now can set up a Tattoo Lounge, and have everything they need to sell and apply removable tattoos, and take the money that they collect and send it in to their favorite charity. One child could easily do this on their own or they could have a designated tattoo artist, a cashier, and an MC (someone’s got to yell through the enclosed megaphone to get clients).
A group of kids or a family could get together with our Random Acts of Flowers kit to make tissue paper flowers and leave them in a public space in a “Take One” hanging vase. When someone takes a flower, they see a leaf tag on the stem that says “I made this for you. Do something nice for someone today.”
ICM: Anything else we should know about Renegade Made Kits?
Yes! One of the important principals of Renegade Made Kits is that we donate a portion of the profit to charity. In the spirit of Practice What You Preach, we felt that it was important to really show that we as owners, also believe in making people happy. We will keep our website updated on which charities we are supporting, but right now we are supporting two charities that we feel greatly tie in with our message.
- Camp Kesem is a volunteer run organization driven by passionate college students who support children through and beyond their parents cancer. It truly ensures that every child affected by a parent’s cancer is never alone by sending kids to share in a free camp experience.
- Random Acts of Flowers recycles and repurposes flowers by engaging dedicated volunteer teams to deliver beautiful bouquets and moments of kindness to individuals in healthcare facilities across the country. They are the essence of random acts of kindness, and truly understand the positive impact of a simple gesture.
ICM: We have Illustrated Ministry readers around the world – where’s the best place for people to buy the kits?
We strongly recommend that customers try their local brick and mortar store. We have the ones that carry us listed on the website with more being added every day. If there are none in their area, there is also a toy store on Amazon that carries our products called Shep’s Toy Shop.
Find out more about Renegade Made Art and Activity Kits: