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Alumna uses crayon creations to support community, environment

Alumna uses crayon creations to support community, environment

Alumna uses crayon creations to support community, environment
April 20
11:29 2022

University alumna Stephanie Long, 31, said she first fell in love with Denton and its community when she stepped onto campus at the age of 18. Years later, she believes this same group is the driving force behind the success of her business, Stephanie Makes Crayons.

“With the help of our community, I’ve been able to make something out of nothing,” Stephanie said.

Stephanie, a history teacher at Guyer High School, first started Stephanie Makes Crayons in 2020 at the height of the pandemic. Burnt out from teaching and taking care of her two young boys in isolation, she decided to get creative when making a birthday gift for a friend’s daughter. After rummaging through her home, she found some old crayons and melted them into dinosaur-shaped ice cube molds.

The next morning, Stephanie saw how much her two-year-old enjoyed her experiment, using it as both a crayon and an action figure. Stephanie soon took to Etsy to find out if she could purchase larger batches of similar products, but was shocked to find makers charging upwards of $70. Being a member of the school system, Stephanie said she knew the items were overpriced for many families, including her and her husband, another educator.

“As a parent, and as a teacher, I saw how much money was just being thrown away,” Stephanie said. “I thought I could make these things for my community and offer it at a much more affordable price.”

Stephanie Garcia poses with a flyer for her business on April 1, 2022. Matt Iaia

Today, Stephanie sources her product by collecting Crayola crayon donations from across Denton, whether from schools, daycares or garage sales. Stephanie said repurposing new crayons helps children have access to more affordable products while also seeing their old odds and ends turned into something new. Stephanie’s husband, Garrett Long, 28, said recycling through Stephanie Makes Crayons also helps the couple’s own environmental conscience by being able to help keep items out of local landfills.

“It helps make that feeling of guilt go away,” Garrett said. “It feels good to be able to provide that kind of good in the community.”

In addition to impacting her community as a whole, Stephanie also sees her business as an opportunity to teach her own children about finances and environmental impact.

“I think it’s a really great generational lesson,” Stephanie said. “We get to say, ‘Hey, before we go and buy all of our new things, we can also love our pre-owned things and give them a new life.’”

Stephanie Garcia sands down crayons on April 1, 2022. Matt Iaia

Overall, Stephanie said she tries to make her products as accessible and affordable as possible so that every child can participate in fun and creative play.

“You’re blessing other people and making a longer table instead of being exclusive and making the same amount of money, but only with a small percentage of the population,” Stephanie said.

Ashley Collett, university alumna and owner of Triple C Bounce Rentals, was the first coordinator to have Stephanie Makes Crayons as a featured pop-up at one of her events. Collett, who uses Stephanie’s products for both her business and her own children, believes Stephanie and her business help kids from all across the community feel included in the fun.

“There [are] so many times that kids don’t have an opportunity to have that unique personal touch given economic factors and things like that,” Collet said. “For her to build off of this product that is affordable for kids […] allows them all to have something that’s special and unique to them.” 

As Stephanie Makes Crayons grows, Stephanie hopes to one day sponsor scholarships to support students from local schools. Additionally, she wishes to later be able to hire students from her school district that have behavioral plans to give them real work experience in a safe and supportive environment. Stephanie said after receiving so much support across Denton as both an educator and business owner, she plans to continue to give back to others in as many ways as she can.

“Just reconnecting with our community in such a personal way is what allows me to do it,” Stephanie said. “After those late nights with crayons stuck under my nails and lack of sleep, thinking of those moments with our community is what will keep me going.”

Featured Image: Different batches of custom-made crayons sit on the ground on April 1, 2022. Photo by Matt Iaia

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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