“Patience, persistence & perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.”
~ Napoleon Hill
Every company starts somewhere, and ours started with me thinking: “Wouldn’t it be nice if our daughter’s artwork were reproduced onto a greeting card?”
You’ve probably heard or read the story that when our daughter was two and a half she painted her first picture, and I went straight to the yellow pages and looked up printers to have some notecards made. Having been told that small runs were not what printers were about, I started a business that WOULD allow – and even encourage – people to order as few as a dozen notecards.
It took about 6 months to get started. No art degree, no business degree, no special training; just a passion for the product and a belief in myself. Coming up with the company name ORIGINAL WORKS was the easy part.
The early years were tough financially – receiving orders for a dozen notecards here and there. However, the mantra “Fake it ‘til you make it” were words I lived by. No outside dining, no pizzas (thank goodness there were no coffee shops on every corner wanting to lure me in)
We had been successful in receiving recognition through Better Homes and Garden and Sesame Street magazines, and even had the Horchow mail order magazine place a nice order. Even so, we were attracting individual sales and were looking for a larger audience that had art in hand. So, we turned our attention to the school market.
To reach schools meant a lot of cold calls and making appointments to meet with school officials. Recruiting sales reps to make presentations to schools all across the country was next on our list, followed by developing a wider product selection.
Parents, teachers and students alike recognized that their artwork reproduced onto professional products made for meaningful gift giving and made the young artists’ beam with pride.
The early years found every one of us who worked at Original Works working long into the night, copying, hand trimming, packaging and even delivering the finished products in our own cars to the local schools.
Bottom line: We believed in the good our company would bring to students’ self-esteem, helping art departments to be recognized and valued, and in addition, provide both seasonal and full time employment to people who worked at our growing company.
Fast forward to present time… We promote from within whenever possible, we have increased efficiency by being able to manufacture our products in 2 separate production sites. We currently offer 4 different fundraising programs, including our Original Program, which was the first program we offered, and our newest program the Online Gallery. We are constantly looking for new products to add to our line that are clever, fun, usable, and priced correctly.
In our 25 years of business we have assisted schools in generating millions of dollars to support their scholastic programs. Last year alone, we helped schools raise over $4 million that could be used anyway they chose: playground equipment, field trips, hiring an artist in residence, purchasing a kiln, or simply pumping up the art teachers’ material budget.
As a company we love what we do and our customers seem to love it too. Our goal has always been to develop and implement fun, creative and profitable fundraising ideas, and that goal will continue as our next 25 years unfolds.