One of our Season 4 participants has invented a very cool product that’s for kids and adults! Stencils Stylz was created by Darrell Thomas after he stumbled on an Instagram page where people were using masking/painters tape to make patterns in the driveway and color with chalk.
When Darrell saw the post, he believed there was a simpler and faster way to create the patterns. During his innovation process, he did some research, but saw nothing on the market that he wanted to make.
Darrell is already the inventor of a children's radio-controlled sidewalk chalk toy, called the Khalk Krawler, and Stencils Stylz is a perfect pairing. Designed for children and adults to create unique, colorful, mosaic works of art on driveways and sidewalks, the product remains popular amongst parents, as it encourages creativity.
Dabbling around with some foam boards and a stencil cutting machine, he created patterns using an x-acto knife. Constantly changing knife blades (every 10 cuts) and testing different mylar grades, Darrell pushed on until he found the one that gave the best results and a prototype that he was proud of. Moving forward to market, Darrell brought in his wife to create the Etsy site, social channels and product captions.
After almost 4 months of testing materials, designs and equipment, and researching where his product fits in the market, the Thomas’ launched their stencil sets on their Etsy site @stencilcreationart.
During the process, Darrell remembered some of the tips he picked up during his time on Make48. He sent an email to Tom Gray, Make48’s CEO, regarding his idea. Lending a supportive hand, Tom told him about the diligence to push forward and not miss out on opportunities. A few of the things he advised him about included checking patents, googling designs and to get a basic prototype. Also, he added, utilize a makerspace, if there was one nearby. Tom also told him to put a few prototypes in the hands of others.
Darrell was grateful for the unfiltered opinion that Tom gave him and reached out to potential customers that could do the same. As a package delivery driver, Darrell gave out a few kits to his customers with kids. The test subjects, including his 9 year old son, had fun playing with the prototype.
The reusable stencil styles come in various sizes and designs and can be used, and applied to, a number of different surfaces such as cardboard, poster board, foam board, and paper, to allow for a fun and unique coloring experience. Watch this video explaining the stencils https://youtu.be/XNfBBX8QLxM.
In creating Stencil Stylz, Darrell hopes it will motivate our children to spend less time with the games and more time outdoors. As far as his advice to fellow inventors, “You have to be frugal. If you’re passionate about something, you gotta make some choices.”