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Local mom is inspired to create unique cards for kids

(Jennifer Priest Mitchell is a freelance writer in Beaverton. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

We all love a handmade card from a child, but we don't all have a closet full of supplies for those creations or the time and ability to help our children create keepsake cards.

Kate Rosenthal recently opened Stubby Pencil Studio and offers delightful, engaging cards for even the smallest hands to color. She had one of the best inspirations you could ask for: her own two-year-old twin daughters who love to color and who needed to manage the daunting task of sending thank you notes for birthday gifts.

'I was looking for cards for the girls to use as thank you notes after their party, and I just could not find anything fun,' Rosenthal explained. She wanted to find simple cards that her daughters, Sage and Sierra, could color on and use as correspondence cards. Many of us become frustrated when we are shopping and cannot find what we want, but this mom actually did something about it. She started making her own note cards.

'Everyone who received the cards loved them, and I had several friends that wanted to place orders. It was easy to see the need,' she said.

Rosenthal began the card design last spring, and by summer was working on her Web site and getting a business license so she could create and sell these whimsical, yet practical note cards. The cards are back to basics, yet cool. They have crisp black and white illustrations of animals, trucks or other fun shapes for little hands to color, letters to trace and plenty of room for a message on the inside.

'I wanted to make something that would be fun, but also educational, in a simple, non-glitzy format,' Rosenthal said, 'and the fact that kids can use crayons, markers, colored pencils or paint is really appealing. Some of the cards also have a word naming what the picture is of - a fish or a dog, for example.'

New writers can practice their penmanship and the youngest children can review letter recognition while preparing the cards, and moms can dash off a note on the inside.

'I hear over and over how important it is to send thank you notes, yet very few children do so. With these, sending a thank you can be a fun activity for a child, rather than a chore,' she said. While these notes are terrific as thank yous, they have a wide variety of uses.

'One mom was having an 'outer space' theme for her son's 4th birthday and she was so excited to pick up a set of our Six in Space cards to use for the invitations. Her son can color the invite and send it, or send it blank and the receiving child can color the image - they work either way.'

With a background in design and an eye for creativity, Rosenthal has a knack for putting together graphic compositions. With two eager helpers, she also knew the need for such a product, and she is intimately familiar with what other mothers of young children seek, and she wanted to be able to provide a product that is affordable.

'The cards range from 80 cents for gift enclosures to $5.95 for a pack of six. It's exciting to offer a truly unique way for kids to say thank you, happy birthday or I love you for less than $1,' she shared.

A native Oregonian, Rosenthal is a graduate of Portland State University. She worked for more than a decade in the banking industry before returning to school to earn a degree in Fine Arts and Graphic Design. Although she did a great deal of corporate freelance before she had a family, with Stubby Pencil Studio she mainly focuses on graphic design elements with children in mind.

Rosenthal laughs happily when she talks about the challenge of managing the schedules and needs of her two-year-old daughters while developing new products, card designs, packaging solutions and preparing marketing strategies.

'It requires a lot of patience and I don't get much sleep, but it is worth it,' she said. 'I have the best of both worlds because I can be home spending time with my girls and have flexibility in my schedule, but I am also interacting with people and creating these cards and growing this idea into something that other people can use and enjoy.

'We participated in the Seattle Gift Show over the summer and had a great response. Our next step is to market them in the Portland area and promote online shopping from our Web site.'

A resident of Tigard, Rosenthal said she loves the Pacific Northwest. She and her husband enjoy taking their children to the beach and the mountains, as well as to the many family-friendly museums and parks in the Portland area.

'I love living here, rain and all,' she said.

For more information on all products designed by Stubby Pencil Studio, visit www.stubbypencilstudio.com or call 503-412-9528.