It all started in an unfinished basement. “No TV before dinner,” Mr. and Mrs. Weiford would say. But what else could there possibly be for kids to do other than sit mindlessly in front of the television?
Katie Weiford found the answer. The basement of her childhood home soon became lined with rows and rows of mason jars filled with crafting supplies, from paint brushes to woodcuts - the possibilities were endless. She thinks back on these childhood days of crafting as formative, bonding, and a way of releasing the creativity that was otherwise bottled up inside of her and her older brothers.
Now, years later, Katie and her mother have created a place much like that childhood basement, where children can come and express their creativity, develop ideas, and use their imaginations. Their creation is Kookiedoodle, a home base for creativity currently located in Overland Park, Kansas.
I had the opportunity to speak with Katie recently to discuss Kookiedoodle's time with SparkLabKC and to see what new things they have in store after the accelerator.
A Crafting Salad Bar
These days, kids are busy running from one obligation to the next, and there seems to be little time for free-form creative thinking and fun. At Kookiedoodle, the goal is to provide just that in a relaxed, family-friendly environment. Kookiedoodle offers crafting workshops, parties and events, camps, walk-in sessions, and many more opportunities for people of all ages.
Katie says she wanted to open up a store that would
“foster that love of creativity, love of play, love of family. I wanted to set it up like kind of a crafting salad bar with tons of different materials for the kids to use and something for every age group.”
While her idea formed at a very young age, it wasn’t until she experienced the world of teaching and then later moved to New York City that she began putting her plans into action. In her time away from home she began to miss working with children, which she had for a few years as a grade school teacher. She decided that she wanted to be closer to her family and also create a space for kids to express themselves outside of the classroom. Katie moved back to Kansas City, and the Kookiedoodle journey began.
Getting a New Perspective
As a member of SparkLabKC's Class of 2015, Katie was given the opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day operations of her business and to look at it from a wider point of view. This enabled her to focus on areas that were not her natural strengths, and to develop a long-term, sustainable plan for a company that began as a passion project. Katie recognizes that one of the biggest changes that occurred through the program was due to the fact that,
“They really hammered in that our lack of marketing, besides me just doing social media, was truly something that we needed to spend some time and money on.”
Access to SparkLab’s network of mentors was another valuable aspect of Katie's time in the accelerator. In her field, networking wasn’t coming easily, but through the program she met mentors and fellow classmates who helped her ideas grow and expand in ways she never knew they could. As a highly creative and collaborative person, Katie sought out opportunities to connect with all of the teams in her class and share strengths and insight across a variety of products and industries. On Demo Day, her presentation stood out for its carefully crafted storytelling and genuine enthusiasm.
A Grander Scale for Kookiedoodle
Since graduating in April, the Kookiedoodle team has been working hard to expand their business. They have created new positions for staff members and are currently adding classes to keep kids creatively engaged. Major developments on the horizon will result from talks with several investors with the goal of growing Kookiedoodle into new markets in the region and across the country.
Since she was a little girl, Katie had a love for crafts, kids, and creativity. She encourages all future entrepreneurs to take the plunge, and says that,
“You have to start with passion. Passion and a good idea will get you really far.”
Katie's passion will take her far and we are excited for the great things to come for Kookiedoodle!