Q+A with CID creator, Rebecca Peragine
Tell us a little about Rebecca, your background story and how you became an artist/activist/mother? Where to begin. I'm married to a lovely Italian man named Luca and am the mother of two very boyish boys. My family has lived here and there, starting on a little island in Caribbean Mexico, wandering through the midwest, landing for a bit in the southwest desert and now on to the Pacific Coast. There is a little gypsy in my blood (true story) and fortunate for me, my husband is as adventurous as I. I'm an artist of sorts and my husband a musician, so there is a lot of creativity flowing. And we're both Leos (yikes, right?). And entrepreneurs. And we both work from home. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Somehow we make it work. We're there when our kids leave for school and there when they get home. So that's worth having to stare at each other 24 hours a day- and that can be hard, even if your husband's Italian.
How did Children Inspire Design begin? I've been making art all my life but never really understood that I could make a living from it. I thought it would always be a hobby (truth be told, I haven't taken an art class since the 7th grade). By the time my second son was born we had moved back to the states to my hometown (total culture shock for the whole family). In doing that, we had to part from our culturally rich, diverse community in Mexico, an area where people from all over the world called home. I think I felt a sense of loss mostly for my children and I wanted to create something that represented who they are and where they come from. So I started making children's art, alphabet and number posters and wall cards, first in English, Spanish and Italian for my children, then in other languages upon request. That's when I realized I was on to something. Then along came Etsy and my shop took off. I took lots and lots of baby steps. From there everything grew organically, slow and steady.
What inspired your global/environmental messaging? Environmental responsibility has always been important to me, but once I had children I felt like I had teach my children how to be the best global stewards possible. And the easiest way was through my art. I started using scrap papers for my collage art, paying particular attention to preserve the papers identity. That makes it easy for kids to recognize that the art was made from a bunch of pieces of old stuff. And I use simple messaging in the art to teach little ones the fundamentals; protect your water, be kind to others, say please and thank you. I have a piece of art that says "compassion for the earth and all who inhabit it". I think that pretty much sums up our ethos.
You started your business from home with 2 small children. What was that like? Insane. And fun. I took a lot of business calls in my closet. But this is a children's industry so it didn't take me long to realize that the retailer or sales rep I was talking to on the phone was also wrestling a toddler on her leg. So all and all it was a pretty forgiving environment. There were a few times that I felt companies frowned upon a growing business like mine still working from home. I imagine they were jealous that they couldn't wear their pajamas to work.
You're the driving force behind the One Mother to Another Initiative. What is it and how does it help women globally? I started the One Mother to Another Initiative just over a year ago with a small group of women from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, the island where I used to live. I knew I had a market for quality designed, handmade products. The mothers that support my company already share the same vision, they have an appreciation for quality of life, our earth and environment. So I knew in my heart that they would respond well to a line of decor that would help lift mothers out of poverty and offer opportunity for their children. Apart from being made from recycled materials, the products themselves tell a beautiful story- from beginning to end, these products are passed from the hands of one mother to another. Today we're also working with a cooperative in Haiti and we'll soon be working in Rwanda. We'll be adding a line of stationary in spring, probably more. We'll see what I come up with between now and then. And there's always that line of wedding decor I've dreamed of designing.........
Apart from your family and Children Inspire Design, what else are you up to? In June I launched Fresh Words Market, a line of art for the space where adults and children meet. This company is a bit unique because we created it as a social model for NPO's. Organizations partner with FWM to host online sale events, and in return they receive 50% proceeds from the entire sale. It was created after watching my dear friend (and now FWM partner) found an NPO and constantly be in struggle to raise funds. It's tough. We wanted to create an effective fundraising solution for non profits and schools. We're still in the pilot stage, learning as we go. It's very exciting.