The Art Pantry is a design studio specializing in children’s creative play spaces, founded by Megan Schiller. My mission is to encourage children’s creative play and learning through inspired design.
Great designers make beautiful, functional rooms. Great teachers create engaging, educational spaces for kids. I am here to do both.
Through my design services, e-guides, and online content, I help families set up organized, inviting spaces that foster children’s independence, investigation, and creative play.
The name, The Art Pantry, comes from my belief that all children should have a dedicated creative space (even if it’s just a drawer or small container) that is organized and filled with quality supplies. Just like a healthy kitchen pantry is stocked with nutritious food and ingredients, a child’s home should be stocked with tools and materials for creative nourishment. This “art pantry” then becomes a child’s workshop, where they can access these tools and materials to work through ideas, tinker, discover, solve problems, learn techniques, and create anything they can imagine. An art pantry is about going back to the basics and allowing children the opportunity to explore with open-ended materials. This encourages children to be creative thinkers and problem solvers while fostering self-confidence and independence.
Just Starting Out?
Here are three steps you can take to lay the foundation for a creative space
1. Set up a dedicated creative space, no matter the size (think quality over quantity) and stock it with quality, age-appropriate materials.
2. Help your child get to know the materials through experimentation and exploration.
3. Guide your child toward an empowered and independent use of the space, while keeping it fresh and organized (most of the time!).
Can't wait to get the creative juices flowing?
Download My FREE 9 Days of Easy Art PromptsYes, please!
About Megan Schiller
Hi I’m Megan, founder, designer and teacher. I am all about combining the beauty and function of great design with the joy and value of learning. I have been designing spaces ever since the 4th grade, when I started an interior decorating business with my dear friend, Meagan. We called it “M&M Interior Decorators” and even went as far as printing out business cards at the local mall (on some sort of business card vending machine!). We didn’t do much more than decorate our clubhouse with pink flamingos and palm trees, but it was a sure sign of things to come. We both own creative businesses now and are still very much into design (she’s an amazing graphic designer and is responsible for the direction of this lovely site. You can see her work here).
While design has always been a passion of mine, my professional career has been full of the incredibly rewarding work of early childhood education. I began my career as a preschool teacher, intrigued by the use of art in the preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. While working towards a Masters in education, I had the opportunity to take part in a study tour of these Italian preschools, which had a profound impact on my view of education. From there, I worked as a curriculum specialist and art studio teacher, while helping to launch the first Reggio-inspired school in Sonoma County, California. Finally I opened my own children’s art studio in early 2010. All of this led me to The Art Pantry, which has allowed me to combine everything I love to do into one heartfelt business.
The Art Pantry Journey
The Art Pantry is a unique small business that has evolved from it’s inception three years ago. To understand it’s evolution, you have to go back further than that. This business really began 7 years ago when I started offering intimate toddler art classes out of my back cottage for my 1 yr old daughter and the neighborhood children. I called it Littlest Birds Studio and began my blogging career under this name. The classes were a hit, and eventually expanded beyond the neighborhood families.
When I became pregnant with my second daughter, I planned to scale back my teaching in order to start an online shop for children’s art supplies. I figured that an online business would be easier to handle while spending time with a new baby at home. In the midst of this change, an opportunity came up to open an art studio in a commercial space in a community-minded art and garden center. It was too good to pass up! I re-named the business Make+Believe and spent the next year running the new art studio, launching the online shop, and having a baby. Needless to say, I was a little overwhelmed and something had to give. I decided to sell the art studio in order to return to my original vision of working from home and being with my kids.
This is when I, yet again, re-branded the business and changed the name to The Art Pantry. The next two years were a crash course in e-commerce, and I finally realized that it wasn’t my passion. I loved blogging, I loved helping my customers, and I even loved creating art kits to sell. Rather than pursuing these things, I found myself consumed by e-commerce operations. It wasn’t until I took a business course by Marie Forleo in the spring of 2014, that I knew I had to strip away the failing aspects of the business to find the deeper meaning and embrace my true passions. I am so grateful to be able to move forward with the business, do what I love, and help you and your kids along the way.
About The Blog
If you got through the long-winded story above, you’ll know that this blog has been around, in various forms, for 7 years. Originally called Littlest Birds Studio, it started off as a way to document my toddler art classes. Along the way, it became Make+Believe, and then finally The Art Pantry. Thanks to modern technology, all three blogs are now combined here and date back to late 2009 (which explains the old small photos and inconsistent formatting). Feel free to browse the archives to see what fun we had and how it all has evolved!