Hi, I'm Grace, and I am the heart behind Jaq Jaq Bird®. I proudly call myself a Chicagoan, a mom of 3 kids, and a Korean-American. This company started without a plan, and a small vision with an even smaller amount of money...it evolved organically for 5 years, and today is a thriving small business with a small staff. The mission of Jaq Jaq Bird is to make unique & beautiful products that will instill creativity and joy in the hearts of children.
You probably don't want to hear the long version, so I will give you the quick & dirty: We (my husband and I) bought a 900 sq. ft. bungalow in D.C. shortly before our third child, Micah, was born. We hired a contractor who was to expand our tiny house to 2000 sq. ft. The week before Micah was born, the phone rang- it was the FBI telling us the contractor we had hired was a fraud. At this point we had given the contractor more than our life savings. Our house was a disaster zone: no HVAC in the middle of winter, no sink, and no oven. To our dismay contractor had ran off with our money. But life went on- our son was born, my husband worked 12 hour shifts, and then would head to Home Depot and Ikea to finish renovating and expanding the house, all by himself because our money was dried up. There was no functioning kitchen for 6 months.
We had to use the bathroom sink to wash dishes.. Whenever we would dine out, my kids got sick of the same kids' menus at the restaurants. They would tear it up and throw it on the floor, causing a disaster. If I couldn't have a kitchen, my savings, or my husband until late at night, I was determined for some peace at the dinner table at least. I invented the Chalk Mat in 2005. It was a chalkboard one side, flip it over, and it became a placemat. It was flexible enough that it would roll up so it was travel-friendly.
I started to receive a lot of compliments so I approached a couple stores in my area and they were an instant success. One day I received a call from HGTV asking me if they can feature the ChalkMat, after the episode, we received so many orders that the products were backordered for one month as I was cranking and sewing the mats. The happy ending is we finally made enough money to renovate the house and sell at a profit in the end. This is the story of Jaq Jaq Bird.
We still develop the Chalk Mat and it is in its 5th iteration which launched January 2016 in Paris. The shape and the style hasn't changed, but we are using better materials for the environment. We have also come out with the Chalk A Doodle Book which is another popular seller.
The Name & Brand
Why "Jaq Jaq Bird"? Our third child, Micah was learning to talk he would say, "Jaq Jaq," a Korean onomatopoeia translated as "chirp chirp."
Although I am a philosopher on paper, I am an artist. I develop the products, design the packaging, prints, website, and take most of our photos. I'm inspired by where I live, and as a world traveler, I'm inspired by the different cultures I come across.
Jaq Jaq Bird has been featured on HGTV, CNBC, NY Time Out Kids, Rachel Ray, Parents Magazine, Washington Post, Dwell Magazine, and numerous other press. I have worked with Land of Nod, Nordstrom, Target, Aaron Brothers, The Container Store and other major retailers in the United States and Asia.