After Courtney Cohen left her career in the creative field, she developed a small business that leverages her artistic talents — and buys parents a few extra minutes.
By Matt Skoufalos | December 5, 2022
When Haddon Township resident Courtney Cohen left her job as a creative director at a Philadelphia ad agency, she wasn’t expecting to find herself starting up a small business.
In 2020, Cohen had just returned to work after giving birth to her second child when the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.
After the office began working remotely, the intensity of the situation hit her hard.
“I was home quarantining with a three-month-old and a two-and-a-half-year-old,” Cohen said.
“We ended a Zoom status call, and I thought, ‘I can’t do this.’”
For Cohen, who’d previously considered freelancing, but loved her job as a creative director too much to move away from it, there would be no better opportunity to try something different.
She named her business That Little Extra Design: a reflection of her artistic commitment to elements “that make the difference between ordinary and extraordinary” in her work. But in addition to producing work-for-hire for a variety of commercial clients, it was the work Cohen did planning activities for her two young children that inspired a product that she could own outright.
“There is a need for entertaining kids,” Cohen said. “So I brought a bunch of arts and crafts to a getaway weekend, and my one girlfriend said, ‘You need to box this up and sell this,’” Cohen said.
In a flash, Pack-n-Go Vacation Creations was born: Cohen’s all-in-one, self-guided art kits for children. She developed the activities in each with insight from friends who work in occupational therapy, education, and the arts, and gathered up the necessary materials for all three projects into a single package.
The result is a self-contained craft center that gives children an opportunity to be expressive, creative, and, most of all, entertained with minimal necessary oversight from caregivers. Each kit retails for $45, and is recommended for children aged 2 to 8 years.
“Everything in this box has been made easy for parents,” Cohen said. “All the materials are included, even the containers.”
Each activity kit contains diagrams that two children can use to lead themselves through three projects: Build Your Own Robot, Design a Door Hangar, Create a Masterpiece. If they don’t want to do that, there’s plenty of opportunity to use the contents for freestyle crafting.
“I figured out how to make these engaging for kids and not hard on parents,” Cohen said. “Having something like this just helps. There’s tons of extras for kids to have fun.”
Supplies include high-quality materials sourced from a variety of vendors. Everything in the Pack-n-Go Vacation Creations kit can be contained within its original box, the design of which is itself inspired by Cohen’s childhood art teacher, who would draw a frame around their projects once students had finished their work.
“You felt complete,” Cohen said. “My work got framed, and now I’m done.”
Cohen is also developing additional content to guide children through narrative play in their artwork, which she believes will give her customers extra use from the kits. Now that her own children are two and five, she’s getting real-time audience feedback at home, too.
“I’m working on extension learning elements to include stories about different activities and continue the story behind them,” Cohen said.
“Imagination play is amazing; guided imagination play is better.”
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