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Kimbra Orr: Bringing Photo Gifting To A High-Growth Market

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As part of her growth strategy, founder Kimbra Orr is eying photo sharing and gifting companies like Shutterfly, Zazzle, Café Press, Costco, Walmart and Walgreens as potential OEM channel partners.

By Sramana Mitra (Founder, One Million By One Million)

The idea for the business came to founder Kimbra Orr in 1998 when she saw a locket that she loved. Yet she questioned why lockets are 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, from nightlights to belt buckles.

Orr took the general concept of photo gifting (mugs, mouse pads, etc) 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.

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, 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 over 200%.

As part of her growth strategy, Orr is 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 per SKU.

Even if Shutterfly only carried five of the 15 SKUs Orr pitched, it would increase Kimbra Studions’ revenue by $1,000,000 and would create at least 10 jobs.

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.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Sramana Mitra is Founder of One Million By One Million, an educational business development and incubation program that aims to help one million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond. She is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and strategy consultant. As an entrepreneur CEO, she ran three companies: DAIS, Intarka, and Uuma. Sramana has a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Follow her on Twitter at @sramana.