When her oldest son joined the Navy, Christy Hook wanted a something tangible to commemorate his service and keep the thought of him close to her heart. However, when she began the search for the perfect product, nothing seemed to fit. After getting frustrated, Christy and her daughter Aly decided to create a customized product they felt spoke to the heart and celebrated military service. After showing their customized memorabilia to family members of other service men and women, the orders began pouring in and Totally Memories was born.
It was quickly realized that the concept and heart-felt value of customized products reach well beyond the military, but without a physical storefront, expanding from a home-based hobby to a full blown business seemed implausible. “In order to understand the value of our customized products, customers need to feel and experience them firsthand,” Aly explains. “When we get to meet the customers in person and hear their stories of what makes their memory special, we become part of the product that we are designing for them”. Totally Memories stands by their belief that a personal connection is key to providing a quality product. Their team’s talents in graphic design and technology allow them to create customized artwork, graphics, and creative imagery to make their products unique and meaningful to customers.
Totally Memories’ ability to foster personal connections came to life in their current location as a merchant at BC Cargo. By being able to open in BC Cargo, a city-owned and operated pop-up marketplace, Totally Memories has been able to spark local interest in their customized products and offer on-site production while working their magic in cultivating personal connections with the Battle Creek community. The experience gained as a small business start-up at BC Cargo is providing the team with knowledge and skills necessary to take Totally Memories to the next level. Moving forward beyond BC Cargo incubation, Totally Memories is looking to plant deep roots in Battle Creek as a family-owned small business in a local storefront.
“After just one meeting with the family to learn about the product and discuss their documented business plan, it was crystal clear to me that their genuine desire was to launch and run the business in a way that was reflective of who they are as a family. Their contagiously energetic personalities, backed by technical skills, were what affirmed their fit within this new pilot marketplace,” reflected Valerie Byrnes with the Small Business Development Fund. The Totally Memories team is exactly the type of smart, fun, dedicated entrepreneurs that BC Cargo was designed to help launch.
There are multiple opportunities for Totally Memories to expand to offer additional value within the community beyond standard retail sales. One such avenue is within the local fundraising community by offering a creative fundraising model at no risk to the organization. “Our community is important to us,” explains Aly. Being an active community member is a natural extension for this new small business as they seek to grow in their hometown.
"“If you can dream it, you can do it.” "--Walt Disney