These two moms built a business out of not knowing what to do with their children’s artwork

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AVLToday has partnered with HATCH AVL, an Asheville non-profit entrepreneurial ecosystem to help share stories of local startups and founders, called HATCHtoday.

We wanted to get a look inside of some Asheville’s most well-known startups, how they came to be, what they do, and what keeps them up at night.

So, we asked. And, we’ll be publishing a different startup profile every month. 

Today, we’re featuring Plum Print, which takes the overwhelming piles of artwork children create and turns it into custom coffee table books.

Here’s an Q&A with Meg Ragland, president co-founder

What makes your business different from others in the market?

Do you know anyone else who takes the creative clutter out of your home and turns it into a beautiful book that you can treasure forever? 

What big problem does your business solve?

The average child creates 800 pieces of artwork by the end of elementary school alone. What’s a parent to do with all this creative clutter? We take care of it for parents!

Year founded?

2012 (tossed up a very basic website)

Who are your clients/consumers?:

Moms who LOVE their children’s artwork!

How have you funded your growth to date?

We bootstrapped the business for the first few years, and then in 2015 we raised $1 million in capital, partly from the Asheville Angels! We were their 1st investment! The round was led by Brooklyn Bridge Ventures.

Who is/are your founders? How did they meet?

Meg Ragland and Carolyn Lanzetta. We met as babies, when Carolyn was born the day before my 6th birthday. We are cousins.

What is a stat/fact about your business you want to share?

We have built a very loyal customer base that spans across the entire country, including school partnerships whereby we offer a revenue-sharing model to generate fundraising dollars for the school PTAs. We have almost a 70% year over year re-order rate from our past customers.
We are always asked: Do customers get their artwork back? The answer, yes, if you’d like it back, we’ll send it back. The Stats: About 80% of 1st time customers get their artwork back. For repeat customers, that drops to BELOW 20%! 

What’s your company’s next milestone?

Our milestones usually catch us by surprise! Good Morning America calls and says they are featuring us in 2 days! House Beautiful calls and says we are in their current issue!

We just launched a partnership with Pottery Barn Kids! Last weekend we were in 17 Pottery Barn Kids Stores, all across the U.S. from LA to NYC (including Omaha, Nebraska which I was pretty excited about)! And we are preparing for a super exciting Back-To-School Partnership with Garnet Hill! Stay tuned…

What are you the proudest of?

Our process is extremely easy for parents: they place a small deposit on our site and a Plum Print prepaid shipping box arrives on their doorstep.

They simply drop the original artwork in the box and use the prepaid label to ship it back. Once we digitize the art and edit all of the images, the graphic design team takes over.  The customer then gets a digital book proof to approve then their book arrives (with their original artwork, if they choose!)

We offer a better way to preserve the memories that clutter the home.

We offer parents a way to truly celebrate their children’s creativity.

We offer school PTAs a super easy, unique fundraising opportunity.

What inspired you to start this company?

When our preschool-aged daughters were coming home with mounds and mounds of artwork, both myself and my co-founder, Carolyn Lanzetta and I, we’re stumped as to what we were supposed to do with it all, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw it out as they were important memories from childhood.

Our drawers and closets were bursting with all of these creations. We asked friends with older kids what to do and when not a single one had a remotely decent answer, we decided to photograph the artwork ourselves and make a book.

The response was overwhelming – friends of friends were asking us to create books for them – clearly this was a large pain point among parents.

My three children (ages 12, 7 and 7) and Carolyn’s two (10 and 7) absolutely LOVE their Plum Print books. They are so proud to be published artists!

Wand more HATCHtoday? Read our features on Cloud for Good + LoLo.