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Timely creation
Justyna Czajkowski demonstrates how to prepare a decorative vinyl decal for adhesion to a wall while in her home studio recently. Czajkowski's business 'You Cre8' features custom vinyl decals for interior decoration, signs, banners, and vehicle lettering. (Times photo: Anthony Wahl)
MONROE - Justyna Czajkowski of rural Monroe is quite possibly an incarnate example of the English proverb, Necessity is the mother of invention.

A wife, mother of two daughters and a successful graphics designer from Poland, Czajkowski owns YOU CRE8 LLC, her budding, American graphics business. Founded in 2009, the business offers high-quality vinyl graphics for homes and businesses, vehicle lettering, signs, banners, logo and product design.

This month Czajkowski started marketing a new product: Fully functional clocks in four vinyl designs that mount flush to the wall - except for the hour and minute hands. The clocks give a modern, decorative appearance to any room.

But she designed the clocks out of exasperation for a particular purpose - to help her four-year old daughter learn to tell time - and named them More-Than-Clock.

"I would show her - 'See, this is seven-ten.' And she would tell me, 'No, Mama, it's seven-two,'" Czajkowski said.

Czajkowski said she couldn't find a suitable clock for teaching time. In March she came up with the idea to create her own clocks with numerically written minutes that help every child who knows their numbers learn to read time, she said.

The vinyl backing is easy to remove without leaving any residue on the walls, and if the clock sales are successful, she plans to start a production line "here in Monroe," she added.

Czajkowski has no training in teaching or education.

"I'm just a mommy who cares about education," she said.

Her older daughter knew her numbers, letters and 13 colors before the age of three, she said. To accomplish that feat, Czajkowski decorated the girls' play room walls in vinyl appliqués, placed at child eye level, featuring all the letters of the alphabet on colored blocks. She then used an ask-and-point method with the girls, even before they could speak.

"I want them to learn as much as they can," Czajkowski said. "If they can learn earlier, why make them wait?"

Czajkowski said she and her husband Pawel don't buy the girls too many toys.

"Books and blocks," she said, "are best."

Judging from the many colorful, youthful drawings posted on the walls, crayons are also welcomed.

Czajkowski sold her successful graphics business in Poland and moved to the United States about eight years ago to marry Pawel, a high school sweetheart.

Pawel had moved to the county with his parents in the late 1990s "for prosperity," he said. His father, who was born in Chicago, had moved to Poland with his parents when they returned to their home county.

Pawel said he wasn't excited about the move to America, until he got his first job and then a car ... and then, he began to think "it wasn't so bad" after all.

The Czajkowski said they remember well growing up under communism.

"People would stand in line to buy whatever they were selling," Pawel said.

"Sometimes they didn't even know what was being sold," Czajkowski added, "which is why you would see yellow carpeting with a red couch in some people's houses."

The communist state in Poland was overthrown during the revolutions of 1989, and democratic rule was re-established.

Czajkowski developed her unique sense of design beginning her work in sign shops. She eventually started her own successful graphics design business contracting with retail stores, bus lines and airlines. One supermarket contracted with her for 200 large vinyl signs for each of its more than 20 stores, to be completed in three weeks. She said she barely slept in order to complete the order, even though she had hired extra employees.

Czajkowski said she does not miss her past business, where her job was to produce what others had created.

"I want to create," she added.

She has carried her creative instinct into their home, which Pawel and his father designed and built about four years ago. In the house's black, white and red first-floor interior, she chose a stunning red countertop for the kitchen and custom designed a large, black and white wall clock for the kitchen's one red wall.

Czajkowski's More-Than-Clock creations can be seen at, Other designs projects are on her website,