OAK BROOK, Ill., July 22 // -- From new shoes and pencil cases to binders and backpacks, sending kids back-to-school in style can pinch pocketbooks. In fact, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, families with students in grades K-12 are expected to spend $548 on school gear this year and a startling $618 for those college-bound(1). The survey also revealed nearly nine in 10 Americans plan to make changes to their back-to-school plans this year to make their dollars go farther and work harder(1).
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To help families make the most of their back-to-school budgets, Sharpie has partnered with personal finance expert and Yahoo! Finance Columnist Laura Rowley to show how a little creativity, combined with the right cost-cutting tools, can help families save.
"This year the buzz is all about the bargain," said Rowley. "Moms are looking for ways to stretch their back-to-school budgets while still letting their kids show up with the latest trends. The good news is there are lots of easy, creative and inexpensive ways to ensure kids' make the grade and moms save."
Get Schooled with Sharpie
As a mother of three, Rowley is passionate about teaching parents how to manage spending while also recognizing that kids want to hit the books with the latest looks.
"While it's important to save, kids won't carry it or wear it if it's not cool," said Rowley. "Unfortunately, it's often those 'designer' versions that end up costing the most. This year Sharpie is showing how to take ordinary school gear and make it extraordinary. The result is savings for parents and one-of-a-kind, personalized school supplies kids will want to flaunt."
For student-friendly ideas, Sharpie and Rowley consulted the experts: Some of Sharpie's most passionate fans. Here's how they turned school basics into customized statements:
- Designer Shoes - Create custom kicks from old favorites. For the cost of a Sharpie marker (about $1), you can personalize a pair of sneakers like these by Reavel, then kick back and enjoy.
- Beat the Brown-Bag Blues - Dress up a lunch and take the boring out of brown-bagging. Give your sandwich bag a fun facelift like graphic designer and illustrator David Laferriere does for his two boys each morning before they head off to school. Or really go the distance like Derek Benson, a.k.a. Lunchbag Art Guy.
- Doodles Go Digital - From MP3 players and laptops to cell phones and calculators, the tech generation likes to customize their gadgets. Haul hi-tech gear around in a one-of-a-kind messenger bag like this one created by Jon E. Nimetz.
- Trendy Tresses and Toes - Encourage kids to express their school spirit from head to toe. Turn heads by adding color with Sharpie markers to plain scrunchies, headbands and shoelaces.
- Get Your Room Rockin' Ready For School - Decorate your dorm room with personalized pillows using Sharpie markers. Show your school colors or Greek affiliation during those late-night study sessions.
- Customize Your Ride - Make a statement with a Sharpie marker-designed skateboard. Friends will flip for these tricked-out custom wheels. See how skateboard artist Mark Rivard transforms his board into rolling Sharpie art.
- Brighten Up The Basics - Transform school supplies into everyday art by taking a Sharpie marker to basic folders, book covers, locker magnets and more. Play poet and buy plain white magnetic sheets, and then use Sharpie markers to write inspiring words on them and cut them into shapes that can be displayed or rearranged.
- Save Gas, Bike To School Sharpie Style - Take a pass at the pump and stop traffic instead with a bike you can't buy at the store. Grab a Sharpie and put your pedal to the metal to create a fly design like this one from Braden Bohme, a.k.a. Radrider. The bike rack will never be the same.
- Cross Your T's with Sharpie - Start a new trend by making your mark on a white t-shirt. Strengthen a basic t-shirt like Choonimals designers do with doodles and drawings that give your wardrobe a personalized upgrade.
- Label Bolder - Ensure your children's clothes make it back home by labeling them with Sharpie markers. Instead of just ordinary initials inside coats and gym bags, add some extra pizzazz with fun designs like peace signs and rainbows.
Uncap What's Inside(TM)
Sharpie's creative inspiration doesn't end there. A seemingly endless supply is available on Sharpie's new community Web site, www.sharpieuncapped.com. The site showcases the work of Sharpie fans and is the centerpiece of Sharpie's new "Uncap What's Inside" campaign encouraging people to get creative with Sharpie.
Fans are invited to submit images and videos of items they've designed, decorated or decked out using Sharpie markers. The site also offers how-to videos, new product demos (including a virtual test drive of various Sharpie pens and markers) and access to Sharpie's other social media sites including the Sharpie blog, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter profiles.
The Sharpie Squad
The Sharpie Squad is also helping families get creative and save this back-to-school season. Led by Rowley, the Squad is made up of savvy bloggers and creative artists. Sharpie's team of ambassadors will help spread the word by showcasing new ways to get creative and save with Sharpie. Catch up on their blogs by visiting the Squad on www.sharpieuncapped.com.
New Tools for School
Students won't want to be without the Sharpie Pen, now available in a retractable version. The Sharpie Pen was introduced last year and is the first Sharpie that doesn't bleed-through paper*, making it perfect for everyday writing. Like the Sharpie Pen, the new Sharpie Pen retractable features a fine point tip size and quick-drying ink. The retractable version offers one-hand click convenience and a soft grip barrel for added writing comfort. Available in three colors - black, blue and red - the Sharpie Pen Retractable is available at retailers nationwide, including Office Max, Office Depot, Walmart and Target. To provide consumers with an additional tool for helping them uncap their creativity on a budget, Sharpie also offers Sharpie Twin Tip marker. Sharpie Twin Tip features a fine point and ultra fine point tip all in one and is available in 20 colors that work double-time as you make your mark.
For more information on the entire Sharpie portfolio and to get inspired now, visit SharpieUncapped.com.
*Results may vary based on paper characteristics.
To help reduce Sharpie marker fading or bleeding on cloth, iron or toss Sharpie-marked items in a hot dryer before laundering.
For 45 years, Sharpie has been the popular brand of permanent marker associated with the autograph experience. Newell Rubbermaid's Office Products Group, maker of Sharpie(R) markers, is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of writing instruments, art products and office organization and technology products, including such well known brands as Paper Mate(R), Sharpie(R), DYMO(R) Parker(R), Waterman(R), EXPO(R), uni-ball(R), and Rolodex(R), among others. Visit www.sharpie.com for more information.
(1) National Retail Federation. July 2009. http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=News&op=viewlive&sp_id=756