Thursday, January 21, 2010

Labor of Love

Months and months ago I did a post on a concept explained by Malcolm Gladwell as Concerted Cultivation. In his book, Outliers, Gladwell shared research showing that children whose parents cultivated their skills and interests ultimately outperformed children whose parents did not.

What Gladwell was saying - in Highlowaha language - is that a child's inherent talents and gifts will shine brighter when their interests are supported by parents.

I'm here to say that Concerted Cultivation or shining or whatever you want to call it takes time and is tiring.

In December my middle son gotten bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. He sold pine cone ornaments in our neighborhood and $22.00 later got a taste of what it feels like to be a boss. I think he decided it suited him well. This, of course, was right up Richard's alley, as he's an entrepreneur and could cultivate til the cows came home. He and Richard held lots of business meetings, one of which was Richard explaining to Matthew that, in order to continue making money, he had to "feed the roots."

Mostly Matthew didn't want to hear much about "feeding the roots" and instead wanted to blow his whole wad of cash on Bakugons and candy. Finally, after some additional cultivation from me, Matthew decided it would be acceptable to part with $6.48 to "feed the roots" of his business and create our next product.

Valentine cards with a twist.

But, first...

Here's where the theoretics of Concerted Cultivation meets the realities of implementation. Who do you think was really helping Matthew trace, decorate, stencil, cut, glue, and stamp his 40 handmade Valentine cards?

You got it.

Oh, and by the way... fifteen minute increments. That was the longest a work shift could last before Matthew was ready to move on to something new. About the same amount of time it took to get all the supplies out and set up.

But, right on schedule Matthew's cards are done and he's ready to start selling. According to him, "Two dollars per card or as much as you are willing to pay."

Take a look.

White puzzles mounted on hearts of either red or pink card stock and then decorated with complementary hearts cut from stencils.
Each puzzle valentine was placed in a brown bag, along with a decorated white envelope. Brown bags were stamped with pink and purple DO-A-DOT paints from Crayola and a white heart (compliments of mom) reading, "Thrill Your Valentine to Pieces."
Instructions are placed on the back of each bag to assure ease of use.
A small display showing a "Before" and "After" shot.
And, of course, the 0h-so-important-carrying case that allows Matthew to peddle his wares through neighborhoods, parks, his school, and - if he has it his way - through the grocery store with Richard on Saturday morning.
Matthew is excited about the prospect of 40 valentines at $2.00 a pop, but he is also excited to donate $0.50 per card sold to Haitian Relief (that's a Concerted Cultivation conversation for another blog post).

Me? I'm excited for this second little business venture to come to its natural cultivated conclusion. I also think I'll make a concerted effort to have Matthew's next project involve wood, nails, a jig saw and the sundry other tools taking up space in Richard's half of the garage.

Limited edition cards. Get yours today.

Signing off until tomorrow...


Peggy said...

Very cute... idea, kid, pictures, MOM!!!

Just a thought... you remember Denise? Her kids were waiters for an event and they were wearing white shirts and had little Luigi mustaches.... too cute... dress Matthew up a bit... maybe with a paper hat( like the olden days soda jerk) ... Flav O Flav big ole heart necklace, garters or red elastic around his biceps....oh and he needs to have a little bowl of candy that each person can take a treat, tip jar? Not that you wanted anymore work or anything....

Mandy said...

I think Matthew needs his own Etsy store! ;)

Claudia @ Highlowaha said...

Oh, my gosh. Peggy I love the ideas for dressing him up. Consider it done.

An Etsy shop? Hmmmm.... I am sure if it means more attention and more power, he'll want to jump all over it! The real question is.. will it mean more product!!!!?!

Cheryl said...

Ha! Too cute. Peggy is right. Put on your best Salesperson duds! Next thing you'll know he'll have a horse drawn wagon that pops open and he'll be yelling Hear ye! Hear ye! Gather 'round!" Okay- bike drawn Red Ryder Wagon.

Cheryl said...

PS. What's the name of his company?

Peggy said...


Matthew Beeny Artifacts?

heather said...

That kid is too darned cute!
I'll be bringing my $2 tonight =)

Katie said...

That's adorable! I'm not sure how anyone could say no to that face or I'm sure his sales pitch! Who needs a lemonade stand when you can go around the neighborhood selling ornaments and valentines? He sure is one smart kid!

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