Contestant's Case to Win
This is based on the number of votes received.
I received a set of handmade conversation stones as a gift in the summer of 2007. After seeing how much my family enjoyed playing with them, as well as how much my childrenâ€™s conversation skills improved, I wanted to share them with friends. That fall, I made some as gifts.
When several neighbors asked where they could buy a set, I knew Penny Stones (a penny for your thoughtsâ€¦) could become a new product. My friend who gave me the original set encouraged me to bring them to market. Shortly thereafter, I attended a Ladies Who Launch event and became even more motivated to make my new craft hobby into a business. I formed CMD Gifts, LLC (named after my greatest gifts: Caitlin, Matthew and David) and Penny Stones were launched in July of 2008.
Penny Stones are a fun collection of 21 glass-stone conversation starters. Each stone is printed with an open-ended question such as â€˜superpower youâ€™d like to haveâ€™ or â€˜a favorite childhood memory.â€™ Beautifully packaged, each set comes complete with a prize-winning penny and instructions for two games.
My first sales pitch was to a local gift store. After just one conversation, the storeâ€™s owner agreed to sell Penny Stones in her four gift shops and connected me to a distributor. Seven months later, Penny Stones can be found in more than 200 gift, religious and specialty toy stores across the country.
I was thrilled when the owners of one of our first gift shops wrote:
While we have carried (a competitive conversation starter) for two years now and sold them very well in all four quarters, the introduction of Penny Stones has been equally successful. The Penny Stones are smaller to transport, less expensive and more generic in topic. They are a great hostess or best friend gift and believe it or not, we have sold them to psychologists who are using them in professional sessions. Customers also respond to the fact that they are domestically made by disabled individuals. Great product! - Rita and Annie, Mulholland & Sachs, Woodmere, Ohio
I recently launched four new editions for specific groups or events: Faith-Based, Love & Marriage, New Parents, and Slumber Party and the response has been terrific. Weâ€™ve just gone from making 100â€™s to 1,000â€™s of sets and will become profitable within our first year.
As a new CEO, Iâ€™m continually impressed by the professionalism, reliability and creativity of other mom entrepreneurs I now rely upon, like my graphic artist and national sales manager. And one of the best outcomes of this venture has been learning how well my husband and I work together. While itâ€™s harder than I thought it would be to juggle the demands of my family and my fledgling business, itâ€™s also much more rewarding than I ever expected. My new favorite thing is hearing Penny Stones stories - what spouses learn about one another, the funny things children say, and the wonderful memories brought back by a simple question on a stone. I would be blessed and honored to be considered one of the leading moms in business.
Penny Stones are available at select gift stores nationwide and www.pennystones.com.
- Tammy Gentry