Chameleon Kids: Supporting Military Kids

Thu, Nov 05, 2015 @ 08:11 AM Karina Gafford Travel Tips, Military Life

Chameleon Kids is a company for military kids.

MilitaryByOwner Advertising, a USMC family-owned company, proudly sponsors and highlights many fellow military family-owned companies.

One such company is Chameleon Kids, a company co-founded by two military spouses, Janine Boldrin and Amy Crispino, who wanted to help military children connect and share their unique stories.

In July 2014, the two Army spouses launched both a blog and a magazine, Military Kids’ Life. The fourth issue of their quarterly publication will be available this coming winter. Boldrin shared her excitement about it with MilitaryByOwner, While we are extremely proud of our first three issues, we're also happy that we can continually take what we hear military kids want to see and adapt the magazine to meet this input and need. Issue #4 is pretty awesome! We can't wait for everyone to see it.” (Sign up for a subscription at their website.)

In the spirit of fun, Chameleon Kids has recently released several creative products, including posters and a set of cute pins for military children with slogans a true military brat can relate to, such as “Suck it up, Buttercup,” “I {heart} mandatory fun,” and “Ask me how many times I’ve moved!” Yours truly has purchased a set of these to give to my own little military brat when we feel like he’s earned his “chameleon” stripes. One PCS down for him, and who knows how many to go?

The “chameleon” theme is how Boldrin and Crispino describe military children who are “always changing and adapting.” They adopted a chameleon mascot they named Miles (for the “miles and miles” that military children travel) to depict their understanding of military children. Chameleons apparently don’t simply change their colors to blend in with their environment (this was news to me!), and military children don’t simply change their “colors” to fit in at each new duty station either. Rather, they develop new shades to create more vibrant, richer versions of themselves with each new experience.

Just as military children develop a richer version of themselves with each duty station and each experience, so too does their magazine. Boldrin explains that she and Crispino thought they would initially start with offering a book, but soon found that concept too limited to the experience they wanted to offer military children, and a magazine would better provide for a “long-term platform for their ever evolving story.” She describes their magazine as a “constantly evolving yet consistently exciting product” that better meets the need they wanted to fill.

“We love that [military children] can share their stories, and be inspired by the stories they read of other military kids,” Crispino shared. “By connecting with all military kids of all branches, guard, and reserve, there is literally something for everyone in our magazine.”

While rewarding, owning a business is not without its challenges, as Boldrin and Crispino have experienced. A writer and a teacher, the two have had a crash course in business while creating their company and as Boldrin shared, have adopted a philosophy of learning as they go. Their philosophy has proven quite successful, and they are proud of building a “...solid company that will endure and succeed” as well as “...a product that we can be proud of.”

Despite the challenges that military life presents, Boldrin and Crispino have displayed their own vibrant chameleon colors in overcoming the obstacles presented by geography and a regular PCS schedule to help make Chameleon Kids a reality. Crispino shares that, rather than being a hindrance, being a military spouse has helped her develop a career. She explains, it “...led me to have a more dynamic career path, and I am thankful for it. Janine and I have been able to tap into all of our diverse career experiences, from teaching to freelance writing, and from finance to management, and bring it all together with Chameleon Kids. And the people in the military community whom we've met over the course of many moves continue to motivate us, mentor us, and cheer us on. Our military community is such an awesome thing!”

Bonus! If you are a military family considering starting your own business, take some tips from Boldrin and Crispino:

  • Always remember why you start something. This isn't revisiting a master business plan; it's going back to that gut feeling, that tingle of inspiration...It's this very basic "why" that drives us forward every single day.
  • Get help from the military community! Our community is rich with talent and expertise.
  • Our best marketing team is the word-of-mouth within our community. People have come to us and said, "How can we help?" and then they help by spreading the word and believing in us.
  • Don't waste time with a grand plan...The reality is that things change day-to-day. (Boldrin)
  • There is no "figuring it out" until you are in the thick of it. Of course, there are some big things you should try to figure out before starting (like: do you have a good product) but trying to map everything out is, in my opinion, a huge waste of time.
  • If you start out the right way, which for us meant going slow and adjusting as we went, then you'll know soon enough if you have a dud venture or success in your future.
  • The key is not trying to sprint out the gate.
  • Owning a business is a marathon.

Click here for MilitaryByOwner's Chameleon Kids special offer! 

 

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