Friday, October 13, 2023

Featured Exhibitor: The Chalk Bloc




Who are you and what do you do?

I am Crystal Alvarez, Owner and Chief Chalkatier for The Chalk Bloc, LLC. I have the amazing privilege to Spread Joy, Encourage Creativity and Give Back to Communities. My premium, handcrafted sidewalk chalk is all made in my home lab and is remarkably different from any other sidewalk chalk.  The vivid colors, smooth texture and fun shapes are unique and full of fun for people of all ages.


Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting story behind it?  

When choosing The Chalk Bloc name we wanted to communicate not only that we have pieces of chalk but that they are designed to be used and shared with others.  We thought about spelling it Chalk Block but that only suggests the shape or amount of chalk.  When using the spelling Bloc, it refers to a group of people or nations.  We want our chalk to bring people together so we landed on The Chalk Bloc. 


Is this a full-time business for you?

While I do devote full-time hours to The Chalk Bloc, I do also work full-time at Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie as their Event and Volunteer Alignment Strategist. I love both worlds!


How did you get started in your business?  

During Covid, I wanted to do something for my neighbors we could all do together while still being 6 ft apart. I invited them to do an art Gallery on our driveways the weekend of May Day 2020.  As part of the invite, I wanted to give them a box of chalk. When I went to buy sidewalk chalk I really didn't like what was available. The colors were dull and the chalk was, well, chalky. I decided to try and make my own chalk. Let me tell you, my first boxes to the neighbors were a little sad looking compared to where we are today but that event started a hobby that turned into a business. It was the encouragement of friends in December of 2021 that made me look into starting my own business.  On January 19, 2022 I received the stamp of approval from the Minnesota Secretary of State's office and on May 12, 2022 my website launched. 




What is your favorite item that you sell?

The Go Rocket Go story set is my all time favorite item because it is my story.  The lesson in the Go Rocket Go story set is about having courage to do what you were made to do. The little rocket wasn't so sure he could blast off into the sky but the stars and planets cheered him on... Don't we all have something that we need a little courage and a great support system to help us do what we were made to do. Through this process of becoming a business, I have been the rocket who thought ... What if I fail, and I am so thankful for my friends who have cheered me on and helped me Blast Off


What is the latest thing you have been working on?

Jazzy Chalk (TM) is a crowd favorite! Jazzy is a method I use to pour chalk. Each piece has 10 or more colors in it and when coloring, you never know what colors will come out next. It is so cool!!! I am working on developing a line of fun gift sets that feature a piece of Jazzy Chalk.   I am also formulating a product that changes color as you draw ... It might take some time but I think it will be super cool when I get it all figured out.


What do your customers love most about your product(s)?

I hear it over and over again, "your colors are so bright" - "That doesn't feel like chalk, it feels like plastic. Does it write like chalk?" Our customers also rave about our Jazzy Chalk (TM)




What do you think sets your designs apart from others?  

Our chalk is just so darn cute and full of vibrant colors. It is also less messy.  when you pick up a piece of our chalk, it doesn't get all over your hands.  It really is pretty amazing.


What has been your favorite moment since creating your business?  

There have been so many moments - like the smile from the lady who really wanted a story set but her husband wasn't as interested in the chalk as she was.  I caught up with them after they left my booth and gave her a Have We Bloomed Yet story set. I can still see her smile. One of the most fun was being part of a summer camp for 1st - 4th grade students.  I got to share the go rocket go story with 175 students and give them little mini rocket sets.  They were quite the little artists. That was an amazing day.  


How does the city you live in influence your work?  

I have had the privilege of being part of the Chanhassen Farmers Market.  It is so fun to watch the market grow and be part of a group of people who are makers for a living.  The farmers market was my first market experience and I go back as a vendor as much as my schedule allows.


What motivates you to create?  

There is really nothing like the excited feeling I get when I pop a piece of Jazzy Chalk.  Each piece is unique and colorful in its own way.  But deeper than the thrill of popping chalk, I love the opportunity to support others and give back.  This year I have take.n a special interest in educators.  So often they buy their own supplies. If I can gift them fun chalks for their classroom, I am all for it.  




What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?

In my 25 years at Wooddale Church, I held many positions that included leading our connections, communications, events and volunteers.  I also was part of the team that implemented our database.  Add to all of that the way God made me to be creative. I will be forever grateful for my experiences. 


How do you usually prepare for the holiday season?

Several months ago I developed a seasonal line and then made a pouring schedule to be ready for all the holiday shoppers.


Will you be featuring any special holiday items?

We have some sweet holiday products lined up for this season. This fall, The Chalk Bloc has a sweet Fall Colors gift set that is complete with a pumpkin, colored leaves and a Jazzy Maple leaf.  I also am pouring some unique fall color sets that feature colors such as cinnamon, brown, curry, peach, orange, red and ivory.  Our Apple A Day set is so beautiful... I know the saying says an apple a day keeps the doctor away but I think Doctors don't want to stay away from this one. Christmas is also going to be represented well with our Jazzy Christmas Tree set, Stick Snowman set and fun Tree Lights set. We are also giving a nod to some Christmas classics like a build your own train set, our version of the childhood favorite wooden blocks -- Chalk Blocs, Letters, Numbers and an assortment of amazingly colorful Chalk Sticks. Stockings need to be filled and we have the perfect little something for everyone.


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