"We are more than just 'peach' or 'brown' - the limited colours available in any standard box of crayons or felt-tip markers."
This is what motivated Justin and Kylee Faure to venture into the world of stationery manufacturing, and ultimately led them to launch the amazing Colour Me range of crayons this year.
With 12 vibrant shades the crayons have been designed to represent, and celebrate, the diversity of South Africa's people.
I bought them for my own kids, after seeing them shared in a Facebook group for parents, and while I love them, it's the kids who are the true judges, right?
My daughter's first comment was "Yay, I don't have to draw just pink or blue people anymore!" My son immediately set about comparing all the colours and picked one that suited each of us best.
After this solid approval, I reached out to Colour Me business owners Justin and Kylee to find out more about what inspired them to create of the crayons, and what's next for the couple.
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Kylee told us that the inspiration for the product was her ongoing search for more representative resources in her own classroom.
As a foundation phase teacher she says that while books have come such a long way and so have some toys, when it came to something as simple and integral as drawing utensils, there was a glaring omission.
"All our crayon and felt tip pen sets had one shade of flat brown and maybe peach. Or dark brown, pink, yellow or orange for felt tip pens," she says.
"Self-image drawings are such a huge part of early childhood development and children learn so much about themselves and develop a great deal of self-awareness through discussion of their bodies and then drawing."
Kylee says that when it came to self-image drawings, or drawing of friends and family it felt like such an injustice to have to say ‘just choose whatever colour is closest to your skin - peach or brown’!
"Close enough is just not good enough and that was not a message I ever wanted to pass on to my students or any other child!" she told us.
So how does one go about creating crayons, we asked.
"It certainly was not easy! Well over a year in the making," Kylee reveals.
"We first developed our brand and our message, then we approached manufacturers. There were countless prototypes, a lot of back and forth with getting the shades, wax quality, thickness and shape just right. Once we were satisfied we got them produced."
And it seems this is a necessary and timely addition to the stationery available to children, as she says the response from the public has been "absolutely incredible!"
"We have received the most amazing support for our brand, message and products. We have grown beyond what we could have ever imagined and we are excited to continue to make products aimed at creating change," Kylee says.
"The stories we have been sent from our amazing followers who have purchased the crayons, and watching our crayons in the hands of children across South Africa has made it all real and made all the struggles worth it, and has been the best part of this whole journey, Kylee told Parent24.
"We have had the most beautiful personal stories shared with us from adults saying they felt so moved by the launch, so that’s definitely been a highlight."
Where to next for this dynamic duo?
The couple hint that they have many exciting new products that express the beauty of diversity without being prescriptive on what that means, in the works.
"We want children to explore and celebrate differences. Speaking to children about race, skin colour and culture is so, so important and we want to create the products to make it natural and meaningful," Justin told us.
He added that the business has been able to "offer temporary employment to the most amazing ladies who lost jobs and income due to Covid-19"
"We are hoping to grow Colour Me to the point where we can offer permanent positions and make a difference on as many levels as we can," he says.
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