Young Millionaires - Sticks And Stones Success Story
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Jera, 34, & 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 he 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.
[Via - Entrepreneur.Com]