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Women of 1M/1M: Kimbra Studios, Littleton, Colorado

Posted on Friday, Aug 3rd 2012

Welcome to our new series, Women of 1M/1M.  We bring you new stories of ambitious, talented and dedicated women entrepreneurs from around the world who using the 1M/1M program and curriculum to grow their businesses and achieve their dreams.

We’ve all seen things like photo key chains. Well, Kimbra Studios makes custom photo jewelry and accessories that allow people to have photos of friends and loved ones on display in a variety of ways.

The idea for the business came to founder Kimbra Orr in 1998 when she saw a locket she loved. Yet, she questioned why lockets were designed to tuck photographs out of sight. Orr felt that great memories should be shown off. With that thought in mind, she began designing sterling silver charms that would make gifts that people could treasure for years and pass down from one generation to the next.

The jewelry was a hit. Today, Orr sits at the helm of Kimbra Studios, an e-commerce company that offers consumers everything from photo necklaces to bracelets to key chains to ornaments to wine accessories, nightlights and belt buckles. Orr took the general concept of photo gifts, that is, mugs, mouse pads, and so on, and introduced a higher standard of quality and innovative design to the gifting industry.

She has more than 25 years’ experience in graphic design and marketing. Additional skills in interior design and event management have helped Orr develop and market Kimbra Studios into a viable 100% bootstrapped business that has enjoyed consistent growth since its inception.

The photo merchandising market is expected to reach $2.2 billion in revenues by 2015. In order to maintain consistent growth, Kimbra Studios will have to increase penetration into the mass market through marketing and promotional efforts. Kimbra Studios creates revenue from this massive market from four major sources: the custom retail website KimbraStudios.com, custom wholesale, OEM channels and licensing.

The average customer spends from $80 to $100 per order on KimbraStudios.com. More than 2,000 photography studios have wholesale accounts with Kimbra Studios. The average photography studio spends approximately $50 to $75 per wholesale order.  Further, Orr is developing a new program that will allow studios to easily market custom products to their clients from past sessions, using email campaigns that are custom-designed for each recipient and make ordering easy. Channel partners such as Kodak Gallery [now part of Shutterfly], PhotoBucket, Office Depot, Rite Aid, E-weddings.com, Cufflinks.com, Golfsmith and others provide Kimbra Studios with a steady stream of revenue. The 2011 revenue for Elvis Presley licensed sales increased more than 200%.

Kimbra Studios has significant growth potential. As part of her growth strategty, Orr is already eying photo sharing and gifting companies like Shutterfly, Zazzle, Café Press, Costco, Walmart and Walgreens as potential OEM channel partners. For example, Kodak Gallery was carrying 15 SKUs with Kimbra Studios and created two or three jobs internally. Kodak added new items every quarter because of their popularity and brought Kimbra Studios approximately $250,000 in revenue annually.  Shutterfly, with which Orr was negotiating as of July 2012, is at least 10 times the size of Kodak Gallery. Each SKU could bring a minimum of $200,000. Even if Shutterfly carried only five of the 15 SKUs Orr pitched, it would increase Kimbra Studios’ revenue by $1,000,000 and would create at least 10 jobs.

Kimbra Studios’ biggest competitor in the OEM channel market, Planet Jill, is a company that offers similar pricing but, in Orr’s opinion, inferior products. Revenue from the OEM accounts can generate anywhere from $20,000 to more than $1 million annually. Orr is also considering other large licensing channel partners.

Orr sees Kimbra Studios continuing and expanding into a well-rounded, iconic brand that features personalized jewelry, gifts, home accessories and stationery. The company will roll out new ideas around personalization by the end of 2012.

Manufacturing and cash flow are Kimbra Studios’ two main challenges.  Orr is looking at outsourcing manufacturing or hiring a general manager or operations manager, which would free up her time and allow her focus on product development and business development and growth.

“People want to share images in different ways, and being creative with them is gaining popularity.  I am constantly working on new ideas to continue being the leader in design of these personalized products,” says Orr.

This segment is a part in the series : Women of 1M/1M

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