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, had a small vision with an even smaller amount of money, 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 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, the contractor had ran off with our money. But life went on--our son was born; my husband worked 12 hour shifts and would then head to Home Depot and Ikea to finish renovating and expanding the house all by himself because our money had 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 would get sick of the same children's menus at the restaurants. They would tear them up and throw them 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 to have some peace at the dinner table at least. I invented the Chalk Mat in 2005. It had a chalkboard on 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 became an instant success. One day, I received a call from HGTV asking me if they could feature my Chalk Mat. After the episode aired, we received so many orders that the products were back-ordered for one month as I sat sewing and cranking out the mats. The happy ending is we finally made enough money to renovate the house and sell it at a profit. This is the story of Jaq Jaq Bird.
We still develop the Chalk Mat and it is in its 6th iteration which launched January 2019 (now called the Doodle It & Go erasable mat). The product now folds instead of rolls, and we are using better materials for the environment. We have also come out with the Doodle It & Go erasable book which is another popular seller.
The Name & Brand
Why "Jaq Jaq Bird"? When our third child, Micah, was learning to talk, he would say, "Jaq Jaq," a Korean onomatopoeia translated as "chirp chirp."
Jaq Jaq Bird has been featured in Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, 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, Europe, and Asia.