Alphabet Art–Simple Idea Done Well 4

It’s a simple idea, really. The e-mail I got from Christopher Dabrowski described it as:

Canadian Entrepreneur Jennifer Blakeley spent three years traveling across North America to collect photographs of objects and scenery that resemble letters of the English alphabet. The idea was inspired by the children’s book “Alphabet City”.

I got curious, clicked, and discovered Letter Art–Alphabet Art | Alphabet Photography, shown here. Pretty cool.

It looks like nice photographs, carefully collected, used to write a word as a collection of photographs. For example, I typed in “Tim” and here (below) is what came back.

The idea is simple, right? Jennifer Blakely took her talent, what she likes to do, and found an angle. It’s not just take pictures and sell them; it’s something different and therefore more valuable.

She’s got the idea, the photos and the website, and now it’s a business.

Is there a problem? Sure, maybe somebody else can do the same thing. Does she have to move very quickly now, get investment, become known the world over as the photos and letters person? Before somebody bigger does it?

I don’t know. I doubt it. What do you think?

About the Author Tim Berry is the founder of Palo Alto Software and Bplans.com. Follow him on Twitter @Timberry. Follow Tim on Google+ Read more »

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  • http://www.womenentrepreneur.com Eve Gumpel

    Tim,

    WomenEntrepreneur.com reported on a similar company, Sticks and Stones (http://www.createsticksandstones.com) in 2008, in the article “Couples Love Working Together.” (http://www.womenentrepreneur.com/2008/03/couples-love-working-together.html) That business got started in 2005. So, yes, someone else can do the same thing and potentially still be successful.

  • J. Richmond – Colorado Native

    Tim,
    Did you do your homework before researching this “newsworthy” item? This one is a doozy. Allow me:

    I became intrigued after reading Eve’s response to you so I did some research. Do you realize that your flagship magazine – Entrepreneur – named Brad and Jera Deal to their annual “20 Millionaires under 40″ OVER TWO YEARS ago (2008)? You’ll never guess what their company does: they take pictures of things that resemble letters and custom frame them. Perhaps you’ve heard of them: Sticks and Stones. I found them here: http://www.createsticksandstones.com. Additionally, it appears as though Eve interviewed them for another partner site of yours: Women Entrepreneur a few years ago.

    Try this one on for size: Do you know that STICKS AND STONES is the company that was featured in O Magazine? NOT Miss Bakely’s company. This is a flat-out LIE. I recommend that Mr. Christopher Dabrowski get his story straight. It’s an easy bit of research to learn that Sticks and Stones was the alphabet photography business that was featured in O Magazine and that Miss Bakely’s company was NOT. Tsk, Tsk, Tim. I’m disappointed that a real reporter didn’t spot this one. It took me about 10 minutes and some Googling.

    According to my research, Miss Bakely’s company was created in 2007. In 2007, Mr. and Mrs. Deal were featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNBC (3 appearances that I could find online), People Magazine, The Rachael Ray Show, The Martha Stewart Show, Better Homes and Gardens, The Today Show, National Public Radio, Brides Magazine, Parents, Oprah’s Exclusive O List in O MAGAZINE. They have had press before 2007 and since 2007 – this is simply the press I could locate they received in 2007 – the years Miss Bakely’s company was created. Sticks and Stones was created in 2005 (per WhoIs).

    Oh, I’ve had so much fun researching just how wrong your article is, Tim. I am shocked at what a novice like myself was able to come up with. Thank you, Eve, for sending me on this fact-finding-mission.

    Allow me to answer your questions:

    Is there a problem? YES. IT APPEARS AS THOUGH MR. Christopher Dabrowski TELLS UNTRUTHS – AND YOU FELL FOR IT (SHOW ME WHERE HIS COMPANY HAS BEEN IN O MAGAZINE AND I WILL RETRACT EVERYTHING I’VE WRITTEN). IT ALSO APPEARS AS THOUGH YOU DIDN’T DO YOUR HOMEWORK BEFORE PUTTING THIS STORY ONLINE.

    Sure, maybe somebody else can do the same thing. IT LOOKS LIKE SOMEONE WAS ALREADY DOING THIS – FOR 2 YEARS WITH LOTS OF PRESS – AND THEN SHE SUDDENLY GOT THE ‘IDEA’.

    Does she have to move very quickly now, get investment, become known the world over as the photos and letters person? LOOKS TO ME AS THOUGH MR. AND MRS. DEAL AT STICKS AND STONES IS ALREADY KNOWN AS THE PHOTOS AND LETTERS PEOPLE. AT LEAST ACCORDING TO OPRAH, THE OBAMA FAMILY, MARTHA STEWART, AND THEIR OTHER CELEB CLIENTS LISTED ON THEIR WEBSITE.

    Before somebody bigger does it? AGAIN, I THINK THEY’RE BEING SCHOOLED IN HOW TO RUN A SUCCESSFUL (HONEST) BUSINESS. I JUST SAW A STICKS AND STONES FB STATUS UPDATE (THANKS TO THIS ARTICLE, I THINK I’M NOW THEIR BIGGEST FAN) – AND THEY JUST SIGNED A LICENSING AGREEMENT WITH MICHAELS CRAFT STORES AND AARONS BROTHERS LOCATED IN THE US AND CANADA.

    I don’t know. I doubt it. What do you think? YOU KNOW WHAT I THINK. THE QUESTION IS…..NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK, TIM???

    • http://timberry.bplans.com Tim Berry

      Wow, JRich, relax. You’re right of course, I didn’t know about Sticks and Stones, and I wish I had, because I would have added it into the post. But this blog is not breaking news. I try to share opinion, teach by example, and tell useful stories; and my point, in this post and a lot of others you’ll see on this blog (check out the business ideas category) is that ideas are a dime a dozen, you don’t have to be first, and it’s about giving value.

      Good ideas happen all the time, and good ideas get copied all the time. Apple wasn’t the first personal computer, Google wasn’t the first search engine, and Business Plan Pro wasn’t the first business plan software. So this alphabet photo idea that intrigued me when I saw it wasn’t the first? So what? It was the first that I saw, and it appears to be up and running, which is the point. There’s almost always room for another entrant in a market.

      You do know that typing in all caps is taken like shouting, right?

      Tim

  • http://www.CreateSticksAndStones.com Jera Deal

    Good Evening, Tim!I am the owner of Sticks and Stones. Our website is: http://www.CreateSticksAndStones.com/

    Brad and I received an email from Mr. Richmond (he addressed you in the comments, above) last week. Among other things, he provided this link and asked for our opinion. We have communicated with him a few times. He seems to be very much a gentleman, highly educated, and passionate about business. We are always delighted to meet people who love entrepreneurship as much as we do. With Mr. Richmond, I think we met our match! We are flattered that Mr. Richmond took such an interest in our art and the history of our business. We agree that it has been an interesting ride – one we have greatly enjoyed and are thankful for.

    Sticks and Stones is very personal to us. Not only because it is the company we created, but because of how it was created: as a lesson in the ABC’s for our daughters. Every ‘letter’ photographed has a story: where we were, what we did that day, who found it. As of late, Sticks and Stones has experienced even greater success than we ever imagined we would see in our lifetime. It was very rewarding to have the largest custom framer in the world reach out to Brad and me after recognizing Sticks and Stones as the creator/originator of the alphabet photography concept as well as the clear industry leader in this very specialized niche.

    I promise you, we take nothing for granted. Brad and I have embraced this new breed of artists and live by the tried and true motto: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There are billions of people in this world. There’s enough business for all of us. Rather than waste a moment worrying about what other artists are doing, we prefer to spend our time growing Sticks and Stones and, above all else, loving our family.

    Money and success do not define us. We are a happy and healthy family and our daughters know, without a doubt, that they are cherished. We could not ask for more. We wish you all the best, Tim, in your art: your writing. We consider the crew you work with at Entrepreneur to be some of the best! We value the recognition your editorial staff has bestowed on us in years past – you lend your talents to a very well respected organization – we are honored to be associated with your publication. Brad and I have received more national press than we knew possible. Above all, it was an incredible honor to be recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of your annual “20 Millionaires Under 40″ issue and Eve’s feature she refers to in her comments above.

    Greetings to you as well, Eve!! It was good to see your note. We remember our conversation with you well – it seems like ages ago. So much has happened since then!! You’ll be happy to know that Brad and I still enjoy working together! :)

    All my best,Jera DealCo-Founder, Sticks and Stoneshttp://www.CreateSticksAndStones.com/