10 Questions with Angela Magnuson, Co-Founder of Unity Stamp
Chris and Angela Magnuson are the owners of a new stamp company called Unity Stamp Company. They officially started taking orders on May 1, 2008. Back in April 2008, I was lucky enough to win a stamp set off the Unity blog. Then Angela had a design team call, and I was officially asked to join the team in June 2008. I truly loved the product before I became a design team member. The stamps and handles are unique and amazing. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit about Angela and her amazing company!
- Why did you begin Unity Stamp Company?
Going Green! Storage issues! People loving wood-mounted stamps. People loving acrylic stamps. People loving both. With our other business, we supply wood mounts to the stamping industry. High-quality maple wood mounts has been our business for several years. Chris loves that business. Making raw materials into the beautiful finished product. However, I did not. I was miserable working in a wood shop. I knew that each piece I sanded into perfection was going to have a pretty little stamp placed on it. I wanted to choose the pretty stamp. I love pretty things, and industrial woodworking was just not my thing. As I would leave our shop each evening, covered with wood dust, my imagination would travel to a place of excitement. I would envision all the images that I thought would go great on those mounts, and in our back pocket was our handle invention. We imagined how wonderful it would be to start our own line, and how perfect this handle would fit into that line. We studied the industry, read the forums, and heard all the complaints of storage and the conversations of mounted or un-mounted. It was a no brainer. Now the question was "How"?
- How did you begin Unity Stamp Company?
Chris and I have had the dream of Unity in our hearts for a very long time. Our morning coffee in our cozy little kitchen created so many avenues that we acted upon. We took our handle concept to several huge players in this amazing industry. We flew across this country, traveled to several large local corporations, continuously knocking down the doors with our patented, unique new idea. Each and every time that we pulled our handles out into the open it would literally stop people in their tracks. We knew we had something, yet there was not one person willing to take a chance. It is a very involved process to launch a new product within an industry. Chris and I had done our homework. We knew exactly what needed to be done. Financing, location, and the right people needed to fall into place. All at once that happened. We will forever be grateful to that one person that sat back and realized, given the chance, Unity would be amazing. Now, here we are.
- Is there meaning behind the company name?
The name "Unity" was the brain child of my husband Chris. We live two blocks from one of the most beautiful lakes in Minnesota. It was a Saturday evening last summer and we had a rare occurrence. Not one child was home. Chris and I decided to take our boat out on the lake all alone, just the two of us. We grabbed a bucket of margaritas, some fancy little glasses and started cruising slowly around the calm lake. "You know," I said, "we really need to name it. We can dream it all we want, but if it doesn't have a name we aren't making it real." Me, being an inspirational guru, I told Chris that it needed to be something strong, yet inspirational. No "stamp" or "stamping" or "rubber" involved. I started tossing out all kinds of words, phrases, titles, and as each one left my mouth nothing fit. Silence. Then as calm as can be with his adorable quirky smile, Chris just looked at me and said "Unity," uniting acrylic and wood, stamping and scrapbooking. It was an instant fit and in that moment the dream became a little more real.
- You and your husband Chris work together in the company. Explain your roles.
Chris and I are both "Chiefs" by nature. Each of us likes to be in charge of what is going on within our business and home. Amazingly it works well within Unity due to the significant different roles that Unity needs in order to be successful.
Chris deals with the Large Sales and Manufacturing. Chris loves people. He could visit with anyone, at anytime. He is genuinely interested in what they have to say and is extremely knowledgeable in so many things. He builds strong relationships easily. I am consistently amazed at his ability to make people comfortable. He picks up the phone on a daily basis to introduce Unity to different businesses across the United States and also treks out on the road to show our product. He is in charge of most of the wholesale accounts. He is also very involved in the manufacturing end of our stamps. He orders the machinery, maintains the machinery, orders the supplies, and makes all the contacts regarding those needs.
I am in charge of the Design, Retail Orders, Marketing and Individual Sales on our retail end. I choose the art, manipulate the sizes, determine the kits, and place the art into manufacturing. I maintain customer service and also take care of all the marketing projects. On a daily basis I maintain the website, customer service and orders as well as continuously review the new art that comes in as well as creating some of my own. I maintain updates to the websites, take care of the blog, and help fill orders when needed. I take incoming advertising calls and also maintain our relationships with our sales representative. It's a million little things. I love my work and sometimes wish I could pull 24-hour shifts.
- What is the most challenging thing about starting our own company?
Chris and I have been self-employed since day one of our marriage. He started out with his own construction business in the early 90's, and I was a stay-at-home mamma. Then the woodworking opportunity came into our lives. Chris closed his construction company, began making wood mounts, and I headed out of the home to help him. Starting Unity involved more excitement than it did challenges. Our biggest challenge remains to be "balanced." Balancing our family so that our children know for certain that they are the most important things in our lives. We are very focused on Unity and its success. We know that with Unity's success there is opportunity for so many people, and our goal is to provide those opportunities. So often times we need to just pull ourselves away and focus on the four boys; after all they are our first "dream come true". Our boys are amazing and support us 100%. Hopefully believing in our dream will one day inspire them to do the same as they have watched closely. They have witnessed it from the beginning, and the story is now worth telling.
- What is your creative background?
You don't even know how much I would love to list out a huge amount of publications as well as education and degrees. I would love to say I graduated from the highest institute of art and that it has been a passion of mine all my life. Art is beautiful. I love beautiful things. It is that simple. Since I was tiny I found beauty in the strangest of places and the smallest things. I could study something closely for hours noticing all the details. Bugs, weeds, sticks, flowers, leaves, everything. I love placement and design. I will move something around in my home 10 times before I find the "perfect place." I am not black and white. I find beauty in so many random things. This corresponds with stamping and scrapbooking. As I was introduced to this art by a dear friend, it showed me where that love of pretty things could be used. I was never a stand-out artist, but I most definitely enjoyed the creative process. All of these personality attributes makes Unity a perfect fit for me.
- What makes Unity Stamp Company. unique?
The obvious answer here of course is the handles. They are fresh, new, and simple. Although it is so much bigger than that. Bigger being the key word there. Our stamps are fabulously large made with scrapbookers and card makers alike in mind. We have put out affordable stamps. Amazingly affordable, that are large enough to add to layouts and small enough to create unique cards. Our red rubber stamps maintain unique quality. Our rubber is deeply etched and pressed to perfection. Our kits are mixed up. Some of our kits are sold with both unmounted and mounted stamps, others of them are all unmounted and yet others are mounted on our thin cassettes. To understand the Unity lingo, a video is included on our blog.
- What was the response to your company at CHA?
Our booth was flooded instantly. My heart was just pounding. In front of me were my strongest critics, and I knew with certainty that CHA was a pinnacle point in our success. I am so proud to tell you that 100% of the people that looked at our product were supportive and amazed. It only took an instant for the brain to take in what Unity was presenting, understand the uniqueness of it and see that it is a fun and simple concept. The industry has involved wood-mounted or acrylic blocks for over 25 years, and Unity combined both with a simple slide or flip system.
- How does it feel to see your dreams come alive?
Unity has made me realize that I am not just "talk." I have studied positive thinking and spiritual paths for years. I have based my parenting upon these studies. Hoping and praying that my laidback, open-minded position in teaching what I have learned would bring fulfillment in the direction of our children. We are now a true example to them and that brings me so much joy. Unity has done this. We love this business, our work is typically not work. When people have their dreams materialize you can't help but become a source of inspiration for others. That is what I have always wanted. To inspire, not only my children, but each and every person that takes a moment to find Unity and realize it started from a thought and a dream. Through vision, faith, and persistence it became reality. Over and over again I will say that when you are meant to complete something and believe in it, everything falls into place beautifully.
- Where is Unity Stamp Company. headed?
What? You are asking me to make a PLAN? I am organized chaos with my plans, although somehow I always manage to get it done. I have just told you I am a dreamer, and dreamers don't go so much on plans as they do instinct. So my future is filled with visions for Unity. My vision is doubling my inventory of stamps. I believe we are currently at 1200 plus images. My vision is introducing unique Unity products. What they are I am not 100% certain, although I am certain that when these pretty little additions arrive, they will be splendid, and I won't hesitate to add them to our Unity inventory. We are dabbling in numerous ideas. We look forward to a Unity "Idea Book" in the future. I have an amazing design team, and these creations need to be permanently placed into publication. We are headed down a path of amazing surprises...so stay tuned!