In a world of televisions, computers, iPads, iPods, busy parents too often aren't able to spend quality time with their kids away from a screen.
A group of stay-at-home moms from the Baltimore area is looking to change that by taking the planning and hassle out of reading and crafting with kids through their new company Page's Corner.
Just under a month old, Page's Corner offers a product called a Storybox: inside each package is a book, reading comprehension questions and all of the materials to do two crafts related to the story with anywhere from 2 to 10 kids depending on the product.
"All of our kids love books, we all love books—they’re all over my house. I think we wanted to make sure that everybody, regardless—everybody is so super busy anymore—we want to make sure they have the opportunity to dive into a story and love it and bring it to life," said Page's Corner CEO and Ellicott City resident Elizabeth Panageotou.
"We have a shared passion for books, we’re very crafty with our kids—we were trying to come up with ways to connect those," Georgelakos said.
The three women began discussing their business plan back in October 2011 and by December they had created some demo versions of the product to collect feedback over the holidays. On May 16, they held a launch party and since then, they haven't looked back.
Panageotou, a self-described "social media queen," has built Page's Corner's Facebook following up to 250 and also uses Twitter and Tumblr to promote the nascent enterprise. In April, Page's Corner was part of the Governor's Maryland Pinterest Business Pitch Contest.
"Literally I said let’s give this a whirl. I sat at my daughter's little play table and put the 10 pins together," Panageotou said. "Our entry was accepted and we got invited to the reception at the statehouse. We felt very official getting to go up stairs behind the rope."
"We were bummed not to win because of our competitive spirit, but the contacts that we made that day were as valuable as if we had won."
If the premise of the Storybox sounds a little academic to you, that's probably because it is—all three of the women who work for the company are former teachers: Panageotou, 36, taught high school history at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Essex, Georgelakos, 36, taught kindergarten at Sandy Plains Elementary School and Dean, 39, taught at Towson University.
"[Storyboxes] can be used for homeschooling, daycare, camps, a weekend at the grandparents house," Panageotou said. "It's so easy to get lost in front of the computers, the iPads (both her daughters, ages 3 and 6, have them) and the television. It's about taking the technology piece away from them and making them use their hands and their minds, getting back to the basics."
This article has been edited to correct the spelling of Elizabeth Panageotou's name.