Created in the Corridor: Kittd

Art supplies used to create craft kits and 'one-the-go' toys at the Kittd workshop in NE Cedar Rapids.

There’s no question that being a mom is a full-time job. But you rarely see that experience on a resume in the professional world. That knowledge and creativity is now serving two local moms who recently started their own company called “Kittd” Created in the Corridor.

“It was two years ago and we were at a back-to-school brunch with a bunch of mom friends, so our kids were at schoolwe had mimosas,” recalled a laughing Maria Sanchez-Masi about the casual beginning of her business relationship with fellow Junior League of Cedar Rapids volunteer, Kristie VanGorkum. Filling in some blanks, VanGorkum said, “I had this idea, gosh, kicking around in my head for maybe two years before I even talked to Maria about it. It was the idea to make these craft kits and different kinds of kits. Not just craft kits but kits for anything in life.”

Looking for something flexible to fit with her homemaker schedule, Maria bought in. “Really using our expertise as makers and crafters to put together an activity in a kit with instructions and products we were confident about. And one of the products that we made were these lines of toys,” said Maria referring to the pair’s portable travel toys that come in a small tin and are great for moms on the go. “Yeah, I want something that I can easily slip into my pocket, my purse, that my kids can carry easily and everything goes back in the tin. And it doesn’t open.”

Their first pocketable toy was “Van Gogh On the Go.” That was followed by five additional on-the-go toys that quickly outpaced the sales of their other creative kits. According to VanGorkum, “(Shoppers would) say, ‘that’s neat but this I want.’ And they would just pick it up and as soon as somebody would pick it up they’d buy it. Like, oh, this is perfect for my four-year-old, my five-year-old.”

Kristie and Maria knew they had a hit and marshalled their resources to focus more on the toys, assembling them by hand in their Cedar Rapids shop. And they do get “expert” help in product development. “We’ve been very, very lucky to have a lot of kids in our lives who test everything and tell us what they like and what they don’t like,” said Sanchez-Masi. “And then we can use their creations as part of our marketing which is cool.”

You can now find Kittd’s on-the-go toys while on the go at the Eastern Iowa Airport gift shop and five other Cedar Rapids locations. They’ve also branched out to a location in Pella, Iowa and their exposure on and recently attracted wider attention. Explained VanGorkum, “Two weeks ago, a museum in Wyoming said we saw these “Van Gogh On the Go” little art sets, they look perfect for our museum, something for kids to do. How do we wholesale with you? We’re like, let me tell you!”

Kristie and Maria say they’re having fun with their unstructured, creative, non-electronic toys and learning that portable playtime means business. “That tiny kit that you can take with you is what people want. And it makes sense because that is really a reflection of who we are,” said Sanchez-Masi. “We’re moms, we started a business because we were moms.”

Kittd’s biggest seller is a magnetic tic-tac-toe tin and the moms have twenty other toy ideas in the works. We have a link to their website where you can learn more HERE.

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