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Who: Tabitha Geary of OK, Picture This Inc.
Where: Richmond, Virginia
When: Started in 2006
Startup costs: $250,000
Christmas 2004 was quiet at Tabitha Geary's house. She and her kids spent the morning looking through memory albums her mother had made from photos she found stored under the kids' beds and on the hard drive of Geary's computer.
The next day, Geary wondered if there were others like her: moms who loved the idea of memory books but didn't have the time or desire to make the albums themselves. It was with this in mind that Geary, now 37, started OK, Picture This as a means of helping families archive photos which would otherwise collect dust in boxes or drawers.
Geary combined her personal savings and 10 years of experience as president and founder of a marketing agency to start the business. In the beginning, she depended on word-of-mouth advertising and local press coverage to attract attention. Listening to customers also helped her grow and develop her core products. This was the case with Geary's school books product, for example, which places children's art and other schoolwork in an album. "Our products are really based on customer needs," Geary says, "and being a small company allows me to do that."
Starting from the company's May 2006 launch date, sales last year were $60,000--a figure Geary hopes to quadruple in 2007. She now has six employees and has partnered with a print lab to help handle volume. That kind of quick growth hasn't been easy, but Geary has learned to go with the flow. "You don't necessarily have to control every single part of the process if you can trust someone else to do it," she says. "When I finally let a little bit go and had faith it would get done, it helped the process tremendously."
Though Geary doesn't compete with larger companies like Kodak, which offers tools for scrapbookers, she says in the beginning she would find herself trying to do just that. "You can't help but forget some days that you're not competing with [larger companies]," Geary says, "and so you're almost chasing them, but you can't be everything to everybody."
As for the future of the business, Geary wants her customers to start picturing lots of possibilities, because she already has. Imagine OK, Picture This . . . services offered through indirect locations such as grocery stores. Picture expansion of the company's name through licensing deals. And picture what Geary hopes to one day be: the Martha Stewart of organizing memories.