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November 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 11
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Cool Company: Magic Mesh Turned Tape Into a Fortune

Creative Company Wove Its Way to Success


“Telling [retailers] that your product is in one of the magazines on their shelves is an invaluable marketing tool.” Karan Smith, Owner and Founder of Magic Mesh
It‘s not far-fetched to describe Karan Smith's tale of success in the arts and crafts world as a rags-to-riches story. The owner and founder of Magic Mesh started with almost nothing, but used her talent and ingenuity to create something special, she told TDmonthly Magazine.

Nine years ago, Karan was a card maker in Lake City, Minn., generating very little income. As she put it, "Demand for custom-made cards basically ground to a halt. My prospects weren't good and I had no money."

Though such circumstances might have led to despair, for Karan it was an opportunity to turn a business idea into a money maker, and more.

FROM TAPE TO CREATION

One day, she noticed her husband repairing a hole in electrical equipment by using a gridwork adhesive patch. She started using the grid tape to make valentines and other crafts.

After teaching some classes using the tape, she decided to have it manufactured to specifications that would include different colors, widths and weaves, as well as an adhesive backing that was safe for scrapbooking.

“It’s basically ‘cooked’ clear, then colorant is added and it’s woven,” Karan explained. “The bolts are shipped to a toll converter, who applies the adhesive, cuts the tape into ‘logs’ and slices it. Then our work-at-home moms break it down into various-sized packages and kits.”

Magic Mesh can be used as a stencil for paint and ink or placed under paper for dry-rub transfers. It can be woven through with ribbon, wire, fibers or other materials.

“Magic Mesh allowed me to take my paper crafts into the third dimension,” she continued. “I liked to use wire and beads and hang things that could swing, and glue is just a pain. I'm still amazed at the new things even I create with the Magic Mesh.”

As most entrepreneurs know, it's one thing to have a great idea, but it's another to find someone to finance it. What Karan came up with was quite original.

CREATIVE THINKING BUILDS CRAFT

Not having a dime of her own to spend, she decided to cultivate the financial resources others had at their disposal. For her, this ended up being some arts and craft suppliers she had worked with in the past. She offered them a deal they couldn't refuse.

If they were willing to put their advertising dollars to good use, she was willing to write articles about her use of their products in conjunction with Magic Mesh. She submitted these articles to magazines, which in turn published them and gave her product the initial push it needed.

"That initial exposure was so necessary to get things started,” Karan explained. “Telling [retailers] that your product is in one of the magazines on their shelves is an invaluable marketing tool. Otherwise, they just would not have been interested."

BUZZ LEADS TO BUCKS

The articles gave retailers an interest in her product, and also generated buzz and demand for her product among locals.

"Once people in a small town see that you're getting interest from the outside, they get curious and interested, too,” she told TDmonthly.

She transformed that curiosity into $9,000 in sales in the first year. Nine years later, that number has approached almost $1 million.

Asked what the key to her success has been, Smith said, "It's nothing really fancy or technical. You do what you're good at and love, and you do it better than anyone else."

That’s why she didn’t start with a business plan; she started with the business. And it's been a formula that has Magic Mesh sticking to success.

Here are some of the designs and colors of Magic Mesh:




Category: Arts & Crafts



Magic Mesh is perfect for moms who want to have fun and be creative with their kids without the messy cleanup: just cut, emboss, weave, layer and more. Magic Mesh’s self-adhesive quality makes it great for positioning and re-positioning on scrapbook pages, cards, gift tags and many other surfaces. Magic Mesh is also great for covering up torn pages and matting photos. A 36-page fully illustrated book offering a wide variety of tricks and tips to wow friends and family is available separately. Magic Mesh is available in four weaves (fine, medium, quilted and Dottie Ann) and 54 colors.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12972      (added 5/21/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $4.99
Age Range: 4 and up
SKU or Item #: 140228
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Magic Mesh offers many colors of this self-adhesive, repositionable mesh with release backing. Kids and teens can decorate lockers and hold-up schedules, signs, photos and more. It peels off cleanly.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14948      (added 8/29/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $3.99
Age Range: 4 and up
SKU or Item #: 170695
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



This decorative, self-adhesive mesh is repositionable and comes in various shades. It has a larger grid with more dimension than the fine weave. This product is extremely open-ended, noted Creator Karan Smith of Magic Mesh, and it allows “kids [to] really show their creative capacities with no mess.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14981      (added 8/30/2007)
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Wholesale Price: (Log in to view)
MSRP: $3.99
Age Range: 5 and up
SKU or Item #: 120336
Gender: Boys And Girls
Category: Arts & Crafts



Kids and adults can peel off the backing of this mesh for instant polka dots. The backing can be used as a stencil, to draw a permanent image on cards or scrapbook pages.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14982      (added 8/30/2007)
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Dennis FurlanWriter's Bio: Dennis Furlan is a freelance writer who lives just outside of Toronto, Canada. He works on a variety of writing and editorial jobs with clients and publications worldwide. Dennis is proud to be part of the TDmonthly team, serving as a regional correspondent for the northwestern U.S. Read more articles by this author

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