Kristi Woodworth and Jennifer Sauers of Beyond the Trees
How did you start your business?
In 2007, we started by designing small projects for our own families, i.e. a family cookbook, an oral history, a graduation memory book. Soon, we saw that others would be interested in purchasing our services to create special keepsake books they did not have the time or interest in creating on their own. We worked part-time, out of our homes, while continuing to raise our kids and volunteer in the community.
How did you come up the idea for your business?
Jennifer had been a scrapbooker and family storykeeper, and had created a few projects for her own family. When I saw them, I knew I'd love to have books like this for my own family, but didn’t know how to create them. We thought there must be more people like me who would like to save and share the stories of their lives, but didn’t know where to begin.
We used ideas from our own lives to develop each service, such as a 50th anniversary book for Kristi’s parents and books to celebrate our children’s graduations, athletic teams and accomplishments.
Soon, friends and acquaintances we asking for variations on the books we had created, such memorial books for family, friends or colleagues who had passed away.
We ventured into self-publishing assistance when several of our writer friends needed help to get their books into print, and onto Amazon.com
What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
In the fall of 2009 we moved into the Hamilton Country Business Center
, where we have taken advantage of coaching and mentoring services. We have met other entrepreneurs here and enjoy being a part of a community of business start-ups.
We have a SCORE counselor
who has helped us to keep on track with our marketing and business planning, as well as participating in several networking groups, including eWomen Networking
and the Cincinnati Senior Connection
Finally, we have attended some Bad Girl Ventures
classes, and also participate in the Greater Cincinnati Business Success group
, which focuses on marketing.
What inspires you?
Every day, we’re inspired by regular people telling us about their own lives or paying tribute to their loved ones. Many of our projects are created as surprise gifts and we are always thrilled to hear about how the book was received, and the tears of joy that these gifts of love inspire.
The power of what we do is in that love, which leads people to search for a personalized gift for a special occasion, and with which we create each book. Clients tell us that the books we create will be lasting keepsakes for generations to come. What could be more inspiring than that?
What’s next for you and your company?
We have recently added services for small and family-owned businesses, to help them capture the story of their company.
We also have several products in development that will consolidate our learning into kits offering advice for do-it-yourselfers on how to capture, collect, share and preserve their own memories or the stories of their loved ones. We’ll introduce these products at our booth at the Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market
Finally, we have plans for publishing community anthologies, in which we invite people to submit their personal writing on a specific theme, which will be published as a book and sold to the public.
Interview by Robin Donovan