WINDHAM – The online votes are in: Kids Crooked House has beat out 9,000 other small businesses from around the country to win a marketing-oriented prize package worth an estimated $100,000 in the Yahoo! Ultimate Connection Contest.
A small business founded in 2005 by partners Glen Halliday and Jeff Leighton, Kids Crooked House debuted its line of creative and high-end playhouses at last summer’s Yarmouth Clam Festival, taking home the first-place Small Business and Directors Choice awards and growing the company rapidly over the last six months.
“I was trying to find something cool for my kids,” said Halliday, the creative force behind the company and an entrepreneur with a marketing/design firm and dog products company also to his credit. “I wanted a playhouse, but I didn’t want a box that I would end up putting my lawnmower in the next year. There just wasn’t anything out there that was both durable and affordable. So I thought I’d design something to get my kids away from the TV every once in a while.”
Halliday and Leightonhave developed multiple versions of the Kids Crooked House. First is a do-it-yourself version that comes unpainted and unassembled, but allows for creative, handy types to customize the base design, which looks a lot like what one of the Three Little Pigs might have built had they chosen two-by-fours as their base material. The spacious floor plan widens to a large headspace helped by a roof that seems to keep arching up forever, off-kilter like a child’s imagination.
Families can also get that base model preassembled, adding accessories like dormers, picket fences, front porches, even window boxes so kids can practice horticulture.
Kids Crooked Houses also offers two levels of customization. They’ve taken wish lists and talked with children to design pirate-themed houses with a bow jutting from the front and a crow’s nest above, or an Army barracks, complete with sandbags and camouflage paint job. They’ve also done site visits like the one that will result in a Swiss Family Robinson-style double-house, connected with a tunnel and featuring a trap-door slide, all built right into the family’s tree-filled landscape.
“If a kid can dream it, we can build it,” said Halliday. “We cater to the imagination of the particular child.”
Halliday and Leighton will fly to New York City July 10 for a celebration lunch with Ivanka Trump and a number of other marketing executives from companies like Staples and American Express.
Over the course of the rest of the year, Kids Crooked House will have consultations with these same marketing executives, helping to build on and bring to the rest of the world their message of getting kids outdoors and away from their TVs.
“This should have a huge impact on our business,” said Halliday. “For a start-up like us, there’s not a lot of money for marketing and advertising, and that can make it hard to grow. Already, just with the Yahoo! contest we’ve been getting inquiries from all over the world.”
Yahoo! and Trump chose Kids Crooked House from 9,000 entries as one of five finalists in the contest, then created videos for online visitors to watch before voting on which company most deserved the prize package. Thousands cast votes and Kids Crooked House won by a large margin. Two other companies were chosen as winners.
The full line of Crooked Houses can be found at www.kidscrookedhouse.com, which has its own online store, or at 12 retail locations throughout New England.