Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!
Hard work, persistence and perseverance have paid off for one local business and its owner. Jennifer Tomlinson, owner and CEO of Ink My Logo, began her promotional items business in the basement of her home in 2009 and now has grown to a storefront showroom in downtown Circleville.
Tomlinson started the business when her employer downsized and eliminated her position. While most thought she was crazy for starting her own business during an economic recession, Tomlinson is nothing short of tenacious. “I wanted to take charge of my own career. I saw a need for a business like mine and I ran with it. I was not afraid; I knew I planned to put my heart and soul into making this work,” Tomlinson said.
Knowing she had a tremendous amount of work ahead of her to make a company successful in the promotional items space, Tomlinson began working with nationally recognized vendor Kaeser and Blair.
She visited local businesses, cold calling decision-makers and handing out business cards at every local event she attended. “I spent the first couple of years stopping into every business in Circleville and surrounding areas. I needed to make a name for myself and I knew the importance of networking. Some of my best referrals today come from people who took a chance on me in the very beginning,” Tomlinson said.
Soon she began to see her hard work paying off in the form of repeat customers. Some businesses began by giving her their company business card orders and quickly realized how easy she is to work with and how little they had to do. “It starts with business cards. Everyone says, ‘okay, I will let you have our company business card order’ and when they see how quickly and easily they are able to accomplish these orders, they come back for their company pens, their apparel, their company awards, and it snowballs from there. I pride myself on providing personalized service that you will not get from an online company. They can call me at any point and I can guide them, give them options, set up the artwork and get them the best prices that are out there,” Tomlinson explained.
It is clear from talking with her she truly wants to do right by her customers.
When business began to pick up in just a few short years, Tomlinson quickly realized she needed to provide more than just the offerings of Kaeser and Blair so she began vetting other vendors and suppliers. Today she works with over one hundred vendors and feels confident she can now provide a robust array of options for every item a company could desire. “If you want hats with your logo on them for an event, or maybe key chains or post-it notes, I have hundreds of options to choose from,” Tomlinson pointed out.
In the midst of her success, Tomlinson faced a very personal set-back. In 2013, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer and her life was forever changed. “I felt determined to not let cancer slow me down. I had a business to run and customers who were counting on me. It fueled me. I was determined not to let my business falter because of my diagnosis. I was going to fight for my business like I was fighting my cancer, with relentless determination,” Tomlinson said with determination.
During her nearly sixteen weeks of chemotherapy, most of Tomlinson’s clients did not even know she was dealing with such a devastating personal issue. In fact, she was still able to grow her business during that time. Tomlinson looks back with true appreciation in her heart for those that rallied behind her, her customers who knew her struggles and continued to send her business and mostly for her family for getting her through the toughest period of her life. “My husband, Todd, daughter, Morgan and Son, Drew, were my saviors. They would never let me give up on myself or my business,” Tomlinson added.
Tomlinson said it was through the grace of God that she was able to enter remission for her cancer and her business began growing by leaps and bounds. “I was starting to outgrow my own home!” Tomlinson joked. I realized I probably needed to clear out some space and allow my family to start using our basement again.” She began looking for commercial space to house her small business in late 2017. Fortunately for her, a space opened up on West Main St. in her hometown of Circleville shortly after she began looking.
On March 1, 2018, after extensive renovations, Tomlinson opened her first showroom for Ink My Logo.
The showroom has an industrial flair, paying homage to trendy stores you would see in Chicago or New York City. The floors are the original hardwood, restored to showcase their beauty. The walls are exposed brick and the ceilings are incredibly high, opening up the space to natural light.
With beautiful shelving to display her array of promotional items and neat industrial pipes used to hang apparel, Tomlinson’s showroom is a sight to be seen. “I wanted a space that felt inviting and a place that my customers could come in, browse around and sit down with me in person. I was getting to the point where I was having a lot of meetings at my kitchen table. It didn’t feel quite right.” Tomlinson said.
The showroom, located at 149 West Main Street in Circleville, is open Tuesdays and Thursdays and is available by appointment Monday, Wednesday and Friday. To learn more about Ink My Logo, follow them on Facebook or visit their website.
Ink My Logo will celebrate its Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting on Thursday, March 29 at 11a.m.
Best of all, Tomlinson will be cancer-free for five years this September!