Kristi Woodworth and Jennifer Sauers tell stories for a living, but they’re not performance artists or members of the media. In fact, they’re licensed oral historians. The business they launched together,
Beyond the Trees
, offers design and printing services for small runs of books, many of them celebrating milestone accomplishments or memories of a lifetime.
“You get really close to people,” Woodworth says, describing how she becomes enmeshed in family stories while working with groups of people to compile photos and written memories.
“It’s sort of a privilege for us to be that close to the lives of these people, because what they’re doing with these books is creating a gift of love to honor the people in their life, and it’s a thrill to help them do that.”
Moving to the Norwood-based Hamilton County Business Center
in 2009 helped grow the budding business, says Woodworth. “We could kick ideas around more easily,” she says. The duo also received business coaching in speed sessions during morning mentoring sessions at the HCBC.
The women are currently working on products that will allow people to complete their own projects, such as legacy letters to one’s descendants, or other projects. The company offers Cincinnati-based workshops, for example, and skills taught in these classes are now being leveraged into products that anyone can use, regardless of their location.
Services provided by Beyond the Trees include tribute books that can be purchased as gifts for milestone occasions, such as graduations, birthdays or anniversaries.
The company issues invitations by email or standard post to friends and family of the honoree, then compile the resultant memories and photos into a bound book. Beyond the Trees also provides self-publishing services for authors who want to print and sell books of prose, poetry or other creative work.
Woodworth says the trend she sees now is how much easier it is to self publish. When the company began, it was something of a novelty, and Woodworth’s partner, Jennifer Sauers, took materials to Staples to have them printed, then downtown to be hand-bound. Still, the family cookbooks she produced were a smash hit, and, soon, other people were asking about having books made.
“What we’re adding to it is the value of the service. We are adding the advice and the guidance through it and the design of the product,” says Woodworth.
By Robin Donovan