NOBLESVILLE — Nicole Lewis is a McCordsville mom and color connoisseur. As a teacher for 10 years, Lewis traveled with a cart room-to-room doing projects with students.
"I had several students with special needs that could not hold a standard crayon," Lewis said. "So I knew I needed to come up with something that was going to be great for a variety of hands."
For an Earth Day project one year, the class worked on a recycling project using old crayon bits.
"So we decided to meltdown their nubs and stubs because if anyone has been to a Kindergarten class, there are crayons everywhere," Lewis said.
She admits it was a bit of a mess that day using Dixie cups, so she decided to try some molds from the store and perfected the craft.
That craft project became a hobby and Lewis would take her talents to local craft shows, melting down crayon stubs into swirly, rainbow-colored objects.
"And one shape turned into 5, and then 10 and now 680 different shapes," Lewis said.
Lewis created Art to the Extreme, one of the original Etsy shops. She specializes in customized and personalized crayon design.
WRTV first met Lewis at the Shark Tank open casting call in the summer of 2019 as she pitched her product to producers. Since we last spoke with her, she has been busy with orders, even in the pandemic. In fact, sales have been higher than ever before. Lewis works overtime to get the custom orders out to families and her husband works for the shop as well.
He takes the early morning shift and often she stays up until 2 or 3 in the morning. Their busiest months are typically around the holidays but the stay-at-home orders pushed people to stay in and craft.
"There were so many orders coming in we didn't know what to do," Lewis said. "Luckily, we had prepared knowing that Easter was coming up and we had bought a lot of stock and boxes and things ahead of time. But I know a lot of businesses struggled finding those supplies needed to be able to ship and quickly pivot and transition."
In the past month, Nicole was able to check off another box on her dreams as a business owner and that was moving her shop out of her basement and into a studio in Noblesville where they have more space and proper ventilation.
And now, she is hoping another opportunity will help her buy some much-needed equipment to streamline her processes at the studio.
Art to the Extreme is one of 100 finalists in the Etsy Design Awards, and the only maker in the Hoosier state to make it this far. She is also only 1 of 10 in her Kids category.
Voting ends October 7th.
All you need to do is visit this website, and click the heart on the picture of the rainbow-colored name crayons of Reagan and Norah.
Lewis also plans to open a distribution center in the year 2021 and hire employees.
You can follow her journey here.