It seems like such pleasant place to work, all pink and green and girly. The workspace, in an upstairs bedroom at Liz Graham's Powell home, is the headquarters, design studio and distribution center of Bloom Designs-and a reflection of the fun stationery Graham and her business partner, Samantha Shroff, create.
The duo met while working together at a small stationery boutique in Cincinnati. Graham, now 30, had studied graphic design at the University of Dayton, and Shroff, now 32, had studied fashion design at Kent State University. They shared a passion for paper art.
Their business was born of a simple request from Graham's mom: Design note cards featuring her tennis team's uniform. Shroff rendered a design, Graham crafted its layout, and the cards were a hit. "Everyone loved them," Graham said. "The golf pro at the club saw the cards and said, 'You need to do this.' " And so they did.
After researching the market, they felt they could fill a niche. They devised a plan to produce a custom line featuring images of all things sporty, with a fashionably feminine twist. With seven designs in tow, they decided to test the waters and set up shop at a trade show in Florida. They got so many orders that they returned to Ohio, quit their jobs, and launched Bloom Designs.
"It's been a dream," Graham said. "We both always wanted to start our own company. We loved what we were doing, and were surprised at how many people responded to it."
Now, six years into business, Bloom Designs can be found in some of the country's most tony pro shops, from Pinehurst in North Carolina to Muirfield Village in Dublin. "It was the bright colors that first caught my attention," says Amy Zierten, merchandise manager at Muirfield Village Golf Club. "We used a personalized travel mug for a ladies-only shopping event, and they were thrilled with the fact that it had their name on it."
While sports designs make up the bulk of Bloom's business, they also make personalized note cards, travel mugs and more featuring everything from baby animals to flowers.
The common thread is a bright palette with a bit of whimsy. For now, the pair handles everything, from creating the images for both stock and custom designs to packing up and sending out orders. The packaging is part of the appeal, and each grosgrain ribbon is tied with TLC (sometimes by Graham's husband, Steve, who is more than happy to pitch in but a little reluctant to admit it).
Although both women agree that starting a home-based business wasn't easy, they have no regrets. "It's intimidating to start a business. But we decided to take one step at a time," Shroff said. "We learn something new every day, and it makes it exciting."
For now, the focus is wholesale and internet orders, but both look forward to the day when they can move Bloom Designs out of the house and in to a space that combines a storefront and office.
Meanwhile, that flirty upstairs bedroom seems the perfect place for two creative souls to bloom.
For more on Bloom Designs, visit www.BloomDesigns.com. Watch Andrea Cambern's "Female Focus" at 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday on 10TV News HD.