Kristen Addeo is a Greenwich Mom of three who is bringing The Big Picture, an arts and crafts shop, to Riverside this Summer! This unique space will offer DIY crafting tables, craft kits to go and more. If your kids love creative projects (but you don’t love the mess), this is going to be a go-to. We spoke to Kristen about her Greenwich life and The Big Picture for this week’s Meet a Mom interview!
The Big Picture will open July 13th, with a ribbon cutting on July 21st!
Please tell us a bit about your family and life in Greenwich.
We have lived in Riverside, Connecticut for the past 5 1/2 years. Jack is 6, Emma is 4, and Claire is 2. Riverside is such a tight knit community with people whose main focus is their family. Our little street alone has several families with young kids and they all play together. I also love being close to the beach, so many parks, and the schools!
What is your background and what led you to open The Big Picture?
I grew up with a mom who was an art teacher, an artist, and arts and crafts store owner in Waco, Texas. I have always been around all things creative and find myself happiest when I have some type of creative project I am working on. In college I minored in studio art at TCU then when I graduated, I left for New York City because I was so drawn to the art and music scene and just overall creativity of the people there. I did advertising and marketing for a bit, then got my masters in childhood and special education and taught elementary and junior high students which both require using plenty of creativity!
The Big Picture is something I have wanted to start for about 10 years, but knew I wanted to have my kids first before I dove into this. It truly feels like my fourth child in a way and definitely takes up similar energy and emotions. My husband has always been encouraging of me doing this. About 5 years ago, he actually got me a painting that says, “The Big Picture” on it to hold me accountable to pursuing this dream in some capacity.
I always knew if I was going to start something like this, it would have to have a really meaningful mission to give me the most drive and make it worth it. As a teacher, I left every single day feeling fulfilled and feeling like I was doing something for the world with my students. When thinking about the mission and the name, I wanted it to reflect that thought. Our mission is, “Creating a Brighter World through Art” and that is what my “Big Picture” is behind all of this. By combining creativity and acts of kindness (see below about Sunshine Makers), I truly hope that this little store can create a brighter world in our community that creates ripples elsewhere.
What will The Big Picture offer?
First and foremost, it sounds corny, but I just want people to walk in and feel happiness and be inspired. We will have lots of unique, creative gifts and decor for kids and adults, art supplies, and a variety of different types of art kits. I spent so much time curating a selection of things I thought, “Oh I would LOVE if someone gave that to my kid for a gift!” It is all really thoughtful, creative, inspiring merchandise. Many of the items have a really special story behind them as well. One of our lines helps improve the lives of women in Kenya, Indonesia, Ecuador, and India through healthcare, fair wages, and education. Another one is sculptures made of recycled flip flops from the beaches of Kenya that provide careers for the people in their community. We also have a couple school supply lines that support kids’ education in the U.S.
We will also have a couple interactive tables. The cloth bar will be focused on personalizing cloth items with different mediums, the craft bar will be more figurines, frames, and canvases with mediums that will rotate (decoupage, acrylic, mosaic, collage).We will also have jewelry/accessories you can design yourself and some DIY sensory fun!
Can you tell us a bit about the Sunshine Makers?
The Sunshine Makers is the best part of the whole place and honestly what I am most excited about. Every month we will have a “Sunshine Craft” that serves as an act of kindness done through something creative. In July we will have flower pots that you can decorate – we will provide the art supplies, soil, flowers, and a little wood figure to write a nice message to give to someone who you would like to spread some sunshine to. We will also have this available to purchase to-go to do at home or gift to someone. In upcoming months, we plan to do things like crafting items to give to nursing homes, children’s hospitals, and other non-profits in the community. When you purchase your first sunshine craft, you will receive a sun with your picture on it that will be hung up in the store with a sticker. Every month you complete a sunshine craft, you get to add a sticker. I hope to expand the concept to doing on-site service projects every couple of months that relate as well.
Love that! What is the best way to encourage a love of art? At home, I think it is important to have a little dedicated space for art. Let your child choose the materials they want to play with and kind of direct where it is going to go. It never has to be fancy – tape, paper, and scissors can go a long way. Get your child to talk about their art too – when they bring a piece home, have them tell you about it. Also, displaying their work always makes them feel proud!
What is your mom mantra? Well I feel like it’s different at different stages for me. Right now, it feels like it is just “survival!” Trying to balance it all right now with three little ones has been a huge challenge, so now my mantra is really “one day at a time” and trying not to have too much mom guilt!
Anything else you would like to share?
In the fall, we will be offering birthday parties and events at your house, and hopefully soon at-home playgroups as well. We will also have various one-off workshops here in the store.
We love to support local businesses. What are your fave places locally to:
Get coffee – CFCF (my next door neighbor! The best part of our location)
Go on a date night – Valbella
Go out for a girls night – Bianca
Go out to dinner as a family – Sweet Peas, Little Pub, OG Social Club
Get your hair done Nicole Blechner comes to my house and is amazing
Get your nails done – Tip Top Nails
Have fun as a family – Binney Park, Tod’s Point