Creative Beginning with Christina Collura
Last week, she made her second pitch to Dragon’s Den – pitching a business idea to the producers to have the opportunity to go onto five multi-millionaires. In 2019, she was nominated Mompreneur of the Year. She has been interviewed by Valiant CEO, The Business Anecdote, City News and Global News. Her products have been sold in the U.S., Sweden, France, Australia, and Canada. She has run a successful Kickstarter campaign online and she has met with Sarah Jordan, the CEO of Mastermind Toys.
She is also a busy mom of two boys. She has lived in Stouffville for 9 years, and she has been a full-time kindergarten teacher in the TDSB for 17 years. She is Christina Collura and is the founder of Creative Beginning, a company that creates chalkboard-based educational products for children. Her mission: to bridge the gap not only between identification and printing components of early learning but also between children with Autism (special needs) and those who aren’t on the spectrum.
“It all started when my son Luca was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3,” said Christina. “It was an eyeopener to have a child with special needs and his learning wasn’t going to be a barrier, but a learning curve on how he needed to learn. All children learn in different ways, and Luca was no different. I created a wooden name puzzle for him with indented spaces and a chalkboard base to allow him to successfully print his name. It was a simple idea to help my son’s fine motor difficulties. The combination of identification of his letters and name, plus the printing component, allowed him to be successful in 4 weeks.”
Christina brought the same concept into her kindergarten classroom and saw the same success. Applied the concept to a full alphabet and number puzzle and the rest is history. She launched Creative Beginning in 2014 as a little hobby, but this was the beginning of something huge. “I am the queen of multi-tasking. There is a full production line in the house, and everyone is involved. I don’t know quite how I got here; it came so fast.”
In January of 2022, a skid of the puzzles landed in Australia. “They are rapidly tackling that educational toy space and reaching children of both special needs and mainstream,” she exclaimed. Christina reports that the learning curve has been steep but exciting. She researched and found a manufacturer in China to help her develop the prototype – she actually found the manufacturer who has made puzzles for Disney. She has developed puzzles in custom languages – Hebrew, Cantonese, and Mandarin. For custom work, Christina most recently has paired with a local company to help with production, named Made in a Barn as well as another in Woodstock. “All puzzles have the chalkboard base for the added printing component which is vital for early literacy/numeracy development.”
What is next for Christina? “I’m developing three more prototypes with the chalkboard-based concept to reach even more children of all needs, abilities and ages. I’ve recently made contact with someone in the U.K. for distribution. Who knows, and it has been an exciting journey so far, with so much more to come!” www.creativebeginning.ca.