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Business idea: sticks and stones

Spelling Out Success

This family turned a childhood game into a multi-million dollar business.

Spelling Out Success
This family turned a childhood game into a multi-million dollar business

Jera, 34, and Brad Deal, 39

Sticks And Stones, Peoria, Illinois
Projected 2008 sales:
$10.5 million
Description: Custom keepsakes made using framed photos


Picture perfect: When Jera Deal took her oldest daughter “letter hunting,” it was merely a way for the 15-month-old to learn the alphabet by finding letters in nature and architecture. Four years and two kids later, however, that game had evolved into a full-time business. When they needed a unique and memorable gift for a wedding, Jera and husband Brad framed photos of the letters that spelled the newlyweds’ last name. The keepsake was a hit, and the Deals quickly realized they were on to something.


Show biz: Following the 2005 launch of their website, the Deals got into their first catalog and set out to get their product into as many hands as possible. There was one person, however, who they especially wanted to reach: Oprah Winfrey. After a couple of trips to her show and “a little bit of luck and persistence,” says Brad, they finally managed to reach the icon. “I stood up in front of 300 audience members and [gave] her a keepsake,” he explains. “She opened it and loved it”–so much so that she commissioned one on the spot for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Says Brad, “We were already self-sustaining at that point, but having [Oprah’s approval] helped a lot.” Word bank: Today, Jera and Brad continue to build their letter inventory, brand, reach and sales. They’re inking deals with a third catalog and are working on relationships with Disney and Hallmark. But staying true to their original vision remains a priority. “We don’t ever want to come across as commercialized,” says Jera. “This is a family business [that started] as a hobby with our daughters. We want to maintain that integrity.”

Follow their lead: Even a successful business can benefit from a high-profile endorsement.

Online Exclusive

What is your secret to success?
Brad and Jera:
The gut answer is faith. We can’t tell you how many things got answered in our business because we prayed and prayed. But from a business standpoint: building the brand. When you think MP3 player, you think iPod. In our small industry, we are like that. We are the iPod of our specific market.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs?
Brad and Jera:
Seek out people who have done it before or who can help. Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and ask. And don’t be afraid to go straight to the top. Ask for the producer’s name; ask for the editor’s name.

When did you know you’d “made it”?
Brad and Jera:
Getting on Oprah’s show as an audience member and giving her a keepsake. When she said, “I have to have [one] for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes,” the audience collectively gasped because they all knew what that was going to do for business. She’s the most recognizable face in the world. We would have been a nameless catalog company without her.

What was the first toy or reward you bought for yourself when you became successful?
Brad and Jera:
Honestly, we have not bought a thing for ourselves. We just donate it. We’re house hunting and we’ll get a new car at some point, but we already have nice cars and live in a beautiful home. We already have a blessed life, so it’s a privilege to give back to the community. In January, we bought new desks for our daughters’ classrooms at their private school. The desks have been around since 1972; they were falling apart.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, invention, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, News, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

is fear keeping you from success?


under search media, type “Is fear keeping you from success

other stories like these:- under search media, type “success”

September 9, 2008 Posted by | Business, Life, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, News | | 1 Comment

Business idea: Kalawentz natural hair care products

Video: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/25967052#26377083

What’s It All About?
“A word from the owner”

Hello; Here’s the real deal about Kalawentz Naturals. My mother, Mary Bolar Washington, founded this company in 1982. It was her determination, drive, research and stick-to-it-ness that led to the recognition and respect our company enjoys today. With my mother, it was all about family, faith in God, imagination and empowering others in the black community. Today, Kalawentz Naturals continues to stand on those principles and more. We’re all about providing quality products and services: we’re all about encouraging, employing and inspiring black people to recognize the value to their lives;  we’re all about hard work and dedication to one’s dreams; we’re all about uplifting others to a place where they can be all they can be: we’re all about creating wealth and successfully transferring that wealth to future generations; we’re all about maintaining an attitude that lets you know that setbacks are just temporary situations that you can overcome; we’re all about being a black, family-owned and operated business that will remain that way. That’s just some of things we’re about. In summary, Kalawentz Naturals is all about a God-fearing, christian woman who had strong beliefs in her business abilities and the courage to act on those beliefs.

Twenty-five years ago, Mary Bolar Washington took that first step and never looked back. Against many odds and naysayers, determined to create a better life and future for her family, and the black community as well, she founded Kalawentz Naturals and the rest is history. She made her dream a reality. I say to you, never give up on your dreams because the possibilities are endless. I will continue to acknowledge, encourage and empower others to always broaden their horizons. My mother left quite a legacy and I am committed and determined to carry on her work. Her spirit lives on as:

Kalawentz Naturals, “The Best Kept Secret in Natural Black Hair Care” – “Now The Secret Is Out”




source: http://www.kalawentz.com/bbabout.html

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire | , | 1 Comment

Young Millionaire: Joel Boblit

Joel Boblit, 29

  • Bigbadtoystore Inc.
  • Somerset, Wisconsin
  • Projected 2005 sales: Over $4 million
  • Description: Online toy retailer specializing in collectible action figures

Robo-biz: Joel Boblit parlayed nostalgia for his childhood toys into big-time business when he discovered how much Transformers–robot action figures whose popularity has continued since the 1980s–were being sold for online. He launched BigBadToyStore.com in 1999 shortly after graduating college, while he was reliving fond memories of trading his favorite childhood toys–GI Joe, Masters of the Universe and Transformers. The biggest challenge in those early days? Boblit admits: “Being teased by my friends.”

Parental guidance: While in college, Boblit sold action figures as a hobby for extra money, but when he decided to turn his hobby into a business, his parents supported him on all levels. They went heavily into debt to finance the business, and worked 100-plus-hour weeks alongside him for BigBadToyStore. Housing his inventory at one point, his parents had to create aisles in their home to navigate around the ceiling-high boxes. Says Boblit, “They have been instrumental throughout all this and worked just as hard as I did to keep it all together during the tough early years.”

Grade A service: BigBadToyStore caters to specialty toy buyers with vintage favorites like Star Wars figurines and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Boblit also branched out to comic- and movie-related items, earning loyal customers around the world. Serious collectors prize mint-condition toy packaging, so Boblit guarantees his toys by using a grading system to distinguish “standard grade” (mint or near-mint condition) from “substandard grade” packages. He also offers a premium packing service that ensures an item is in tiptop condition and handled with extra care when it’s shipped. Another big draw is the “Pile of Loot” function, which allows customers to stockpile items they’ve already paid for in a virtual storage bin. Upon the customer’s choosing, the company will ship out all the items at once, reducing shipping costs. Future plans include distribution to approved retailers, who can view volume pricing online. Boblit says, “We’ve got the competitive edge for convenience.”

source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9967767/page/4/

September 3, 2008 Posted by | Business, Entrepreneur, Life, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, News, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment