Most people who work with kids are familiar with a young person who is wise beyond their years, pure of heart and deeply motivated. Chelsea Phaire is one of these gems.
MacPherson’s recently partnered with Chelsea and her family through Chelsea’s Charity, a non-profit based in Danbury, CT, that Chelsea founded when she was just ten years old. With our shared vision of connecting the world through creativity, specifically art supplies, we think it’s a match made in heaven!
The organization’s goal is to provide art supplies and art lessons to children, supporting children’s social, emotional and mental health development through art kits that Chelsea and her family put together and distribute. Before the pandemic, Chelsea visited schools in person to deliver her kits; she’s been featured on various media outlets such as NBC and Black Art in America.
COVID-19 has not stopped her in her tracks: in fact art supplies for kids are in high demand. She and her parents have organized remote kit-packing parties, and our recent partnership has brought even more art supplies to the table. I reached out to Chelsea and her mom Candace for an interview in hopes of getting to know Chelsea better and to hear her thoughts on art, art-making and of course, art supplies.
The interview with Chelsea was like a breath of fresh air. We said our hellos; Chelsea’s mom Candace sat in and the three of us chatted about how Chelsea’s Charity was born. They jokingly mentioned how when a kid wants a dog or a cat, the parents end up taking care of it. Chelsea and her parents had agreed at the very beginning of this journey that Chelsea’s Charity would not become like that. Chelsea shoulders much of the responsibilities: kitting supplies, distributing kits in person when that was an option, and planning events. Her parents help out with the administrative aspects of the organization and support her every step of the way.
Chelsea’s life’s work makes it clear that the visions of the generation, when propelled forward by the arts and the support of a community, are dreams realized.
Listen in on some of our team’s favorite clips from the interview:
Going Through It and Getting Through It
Not only are the arts a vehicle for actualizing the dreams of brilliant young minds, they’re also an essential tool for working through challenging and powerful emotions. What struck me most about our conversation was Chelsea’s understanding of the connection between access to different types of art supplies (our forte), different types of expression, techniques or art education and emotional growth. Not only do her dreams inspire her to create when she wakes up in the morning, specific emotions like nostalgia, sadness and joy inspire her to pick up her favorite supplies (a paintbrush or a gel pen) and start creating.
Art is a Start… of What?
The slogan for Chelsea’s Charity is “Art is a Start.” I asked Chelsea what that means exactly. Sure, we adults can fill in the blank, but I was much more interested in hearing her perspective.
“Art can be the start of a dream coming true, expanding your social circle, learning a new skill,” Chelsea replied. The process of creating is full of infinite possibility, and when I asked Chelsea about her favorite part of Chelsea’s Charity, her answer was very grounded. Her favorite part? Not dreams, not emotions, not art-making, but the actual supplies themselves. “Each kit tells a story,” she said.
I remembered packing up school kits for the 2019 fall semesters in our Atlanta warehouse. Packing up those kits in rapid succession with the team of my fellow MacPherson’s colleagues, I had imagined what it would be like to open that kit as a freshman in college, about to embark upon my first ever collegiate level fine art class. I imagine the erasers transforming over the next months from pristine white bricks to beautifully scarred, experienced tools. I imagined the pencils shrinking over time with use (don’t you have a favorite too-short-to-use pencil that is so hard to give up?). The next generation of art supply nerds, who will carry on the traditions of our industry, are going through uncharted territory this year, along with the rest of us…and they are armed with a clarity and determination only children can have.
Gratitude, Connection & Growth
MacPherson’s is honored to be working with a sensitive, thoughtful artist like Chelsea. She reminds us why we do what we do, why we connect the world through creativity. She continues to grow and flourish with the support of her family, and we look forward to learning from her in the coming years!
To learn more about Chelsea’s Charity, visit their website; read about their virtual kit drives, their toy and coat drive for the holiday season, and all the wonderful initiatives over the past few years, including bringing kits to children who are impacted by gun violence at school.
For many of us, art is not just a business, it’s personal. We have a personal connection to the arts because of something that art helped us through, somebody or something important that art connected us to. Art is a lifeline, and supplies are the tools that help strengthen and build that lifeline for so many.
On our call, Chelsea and I shared recent art projects with each other, and talked about our favorite art techniques and mediums. Art supplies can connect an 11-year-old on the other side of the country who is decompressing from an exhausting day in virtual school with a copywriter working from home, stuck in spreadsheets. Art supplies breathe verve into everyday moments, turning an interaction into a connection.