Crafty creations Featured

1:32pm EDT August 31, 2005
Many parents say their children are an inspiration, but not many can say that their children inspired them to start their own company, create a new product and get a well-known company to endorse it.

But that is exactly what happened to Jimmy and Andrea Zeilinger of Shaker Heights — the couple was inspired by their kids, Sienna, 11, and Amanda, 8, to create Crayola Crafty Cooking Kits.

“I like to do crafts with my kids,” says Jimmy Zeilinger. “And Andrea enjoys cooking. We decided to combine those interests into Crafty Cooking Kits because there was nothing like it on the market.”

The Zeilingers wanted to develop a line of cooking products to help children create lifelong memories with their parents, so they began conducting surveys, leading focus groups and talking to food brokers.

The end result was six kits that include quality ingredients, detailed cooking instructions, fun facts, games and an affordable price of $4 to $5. And the kits are simple — sometimes as easy as just adding water. The Zeilingers formed Brand Castle, a privately-held company, to manufacture and distribute the cooking kits.

Next, the Zeilingers approached Crayola about their idea.

“They were very receptive to it,” says Zeilinger.

Crayola liked that the kits were high-quality and promoted wholesome and limitless creativity between children and parents. The company decided to partner with the Zeilingers, a boon for Brand Castle because having the Crayola name attached to the product attracts parents looking for a quality product for their children.

“A lot of parents are busy. They want to be an involved parent but they don’t have the resources,” says Zeilinger. “This gives them an affordable way to be an attentive parent and get involved with their kids. All the tools they need are right there at their fingertips.”

In addition to sharing their food and memories with their parents, children can also share their creations online at The virtual refrigerator allows children to post pictures and participate in monthly contests to win a Crayola Crafty Cooking Kit party. The Web site also includes help on how to make the products and new creative ideas.

What is next for the Zeilingers?

“We are already planning other product lines for the future,” says Jimmy. How to reach: Brand Castle,  or