When Nicole Lewis set up an Etsy shop 14 years ago, she had no idea that it would lead to a hugely successful business. Owner of Art 2 The Extreme® and creator of the Original Rainbow Crayon®, she and her husband Eric operate from their Noblesville home. They design, produce and sell tens of thousands of specialized crayons nationwide, and also create customized items. Recognition as an Etsy Design Award finalist out of 4.3 million contenders for the top 10 in the Kids Category in 2020 provides a gratifying reminder of how the business has grown.
“I was an art teacher in Lebanon for 10 years,” Lewis says. “During that time, I’d recycle all the nubs and stubs of crayons to make art supplies. The resulting bigger crayons were fun to use and great for the kids who couldn’t hold regular crayons.”
In 2007 Lewis created an Etsy shop. The platform was in its beginning stages, with a small community of makers and artisans. Lewis became the first person to sell handmade crayons on Etsy. In 2014 she left her teaching job to devote her full attention to the business, and her side hustle became her only job.
“In the past three or four years we have had to cut off Christmas orders at the beginning of November,” Lewis says. “We just could not keep up. Not every husband and wife can work together, but a year and a half ago, Eric left his position as principal of an Indianapolis charter school to work with me. It was a scary leap when we decided Art 2 The Extreme would be our sole income, but our crayons made us think outside the crayon box.”
The crayons are colorful yet functional, and can serve as birthday presents, stocking stuffers or even graduation gifts. Personalized name sets are also popular. They come in a gift box and start at $19.95 for four letters. Each additional letter is $2 more. Another choice is Custom Name Stix, which are crayons with a name embossed on them. Prices begin at $89.95 for a set of four. Besides helping a child keep track of supplies, they make great favors for weddings or special events.
Multi Crayons at $16.95 and Crayon Stix for $17.95 are chunky, easy to grasp, and won’t roll off the table. Whimsical Jumbo Unicorn Horns begin at $21.95 for a set of three. Adults love the Mini Donut Crayons at $19.95, which have been featured on Food Network and Rachael Ray’s Gift Guide.
The business has been featured in more than 150 publications and media outlets such as Midwest Living, Good Housekeeping and Us Weekly. Celebrities such as Beverley Mitchell and DeAnna Pappas Stagliano have purchased the unique crayons for their children. Lewis loves doing custom work for businesses and special events, and has done projects for Oprah Winfrey Network and Sephora.
“We are currently partnering with a nonprofit organization, Crayon Collection, that promotes art education in underserved communities and is environmentally conscious,” Lewis says. “We hold crayon drives and donate unused crayons from our orders to Crayon Collection. On National Crayon Day, we pledged to donate one crayon for every ‘like’ we received on a social media post.”