All parents enjoy playing little games with their children from time to time. We are told that playing games with our children helps their little brains to develop and their personalities to become better rounded. So, we play all sorts of games with them to help with their overall adjustment. Some parents buy games at the local department store that are geared towards fun or education. That is the normal pattern followed. Then there are those who make up little games to deliver fun and education to their toddlers. That is all good but one parent took it a step further. Jera Deal, a 34-year-old housewife from Illinois turned her family’s game into a fortune.
She and her husband Brad had developed a game that was meant to assist their toddler to learn the letters of the alphabet. They created a game of letter finding that could be played almost anywhere. There was no game board and no pieces of any kind. This activity was geared towards finding letters in architecture and nature. Sometimes you can find sticks or stones in the shape of a letter. You can find letters in many things around you if you just look. She began to take pictures of these and then use them to play with her daughter. Little did she know that she had stumbled upon am entrepreneurs dream. She had found a niche in the gift giving market and it was about to explode.
While she was helping out at her daughter’s preschool class it was announced that the teacher was getting married. She was torn over what special present she could come up with that would create a special memory that would last a lifetime. She took it up with her husband Brad and they came up with a very clever idea. They went through the photos of letters that they had taken and spelled out the bride to be last name. In addition they framed these letters and created a quaint little keepsake. The teacher loved the gift and so did everyone who saw it. Can you say entrepreneur fever?
She knew that they had stumbled upon a unique gift idea. They decided to create a website in 2005. ‘Sticks and Stones’ was born. They put together a catalog of their favorite letter pictures in frames and began the effort of marketing it everywhere they could think of. Getting your brand out there can be a long and tiresome journey, unless you think out of the box. The new business was starting to hold it’s own but they needed a big break. That break came in the form of Oprah Winfrey. They visited her show and somehow managed to get her attention and offer her a free gift from their company. Oprah loved it and the rest is history. Oprah wanted one to give to Tom Cruise and family. Her endorsement gave ‘Sticks and Stones’ an incredible boost.
This young entrepreneur had taken a game played with her child and turned it into a multi-million dollar empire. Through it all this family has remained grounded. Their entrepreneur spirit has made many of their dreams come true but they remain devoted to their community and the family that made it all possible.
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