Friday, February 12, 2010

Looking Back, Looking Ahead III- KDi STUDiOS

Many of you know I owned and ran a greeting card company named KDi STUDiOS. But not many of you know why or how it started. This is the story of KDi.

For many years, since graduating college, I used the title KDi STUDiOS for my freelance illustration business, K = Krys, D = Denshick and I = Illustration. But after leaving a job in 2001 (under extremely bad working conditions),  I was left in a very dark place and my loving and patient husband found the perfect way to heal me. He suggested that we start our own greeting card company. (this occurred after looking for a birthday card for someone, and reading through 20-30 cards before finding one that was just okay). And just like the SkiDaddles story, when Dave gives me creative encouragement, I have a tendency to run with it. That is exactly the case of KDi.

We began by deciding that we'd keep the KDi name only now we joked that it stood for Krys and Dave Innovations (we actually got asked what it stood for by many at the National Stationery Show so it was good we figured it out beforehand!) and we kept the original logo of the little pigtailed girl who looked a bit pissed off to some, but she had character and was memorable as we found out in the following months and years when people would show up at our booth and say, "There she is!!! We we're looking for the little girl!"

When we started the company we set our sights on the National Stationery Show which was only 5-6 months away, so needless to say there was quite a bit of work to be done and amazingly in that short amount of time I cranked out over 300 card designs, we built a booth and all the tables and furnishings to go in it and we created a computerized order system which was unheard of back in 2002! We were handling everything ourselves, from design to packing orders to customer service.

And it paid off in many ways, none of which, however, were financial independence!!! LOL Over the next three years I designed and ran a business that had international sales and recognition. We were nominated for 6 LOUIE awards in our first and second years of business. We didn't win, but the nomination alone is a fantastic honor. They take three cards in each category so we like to tell ourselves we came in second! LOL

It was a wonderful fun three years but we learned that it takes more than determination, drive and good design to make a greeting card company successful. It takes money, a lot of money, and sales. Having a reliable sales team is crucial to your success. We had reps but none of them seemed to move enough product to keep us afloat and neither Dave nor I were drawing a paycheck. Why did we do it? It was a leap of faith, and the end result was better than any financial gain.  We grew as people, we stretched our wings, we learned more than we ever would have just working for anyone else, we had a fabulous wonderful adventure and it brought us closer together in the process.

There was a lot learned during those years, but the most important thing I came to know was my husband's love for me knows no bounds. He knew in his heart what would make be better, more than any doctor or friend or counselor, he knew me and what makes my heart happy and he gave me the opportunity to find out for myself just what I'm made of. And he showed me that no one and nothing could ever take away my talent or passion or unique views on life.

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