If you work in an office at a work station, that nameplate marking your space and coat hook had to come from somewhere. All of those products have a story. Locally, Kj Studios is turning out U.S.-manufactured modular workstation signage and other accessories for an efficient, organized workplace.
Kj Studios stared in 1993 as an outgrowth of owner Kathleen Stone’s interior design business. More than designing spaces, she had s strong desire to design versatile, dual-use products.
“I wanted to invent a product that could be massed produced to launch into the interiors industry,” she says.
Stone started designing transformer furniture. They were items that could be produced, but not easily in a mass environment. What she came up with instead was a multi-use frame-like sign.
“The beauty of it is it incorporates a versatile, changeable name plate,” Stone says. “The graphic is printed on a paper insert and slides in behind a clear acrylic.” If someone changes titles, the nameplate can easily be updated, printed and interchanged. It was a novel concept in 1993, with Kj Studios being the only manufacturer with such a product.
“To date that is still our best seller,” Stone says.
Today, Kj Studios manufactures several additional products, including signage, brackets and accessories. All designed for open office work stations, the signage is the actual signs, the brackets are what’s needed to hang the sign, and the accessories cover everything else, like coat hooks and whiteboards.
In 2015, Stone plans to launch a more comprehensive accessory line to fill a niche that’s not currently addressed. The new line will include products like hanging post-it note dispensers, mini shelves and drawers.
The coming year will also focus on taking the business nationwide.
“It’s the next natural progression in the business,” Stone says.
With their distribution channels, Kj Studios’ product can be sold as easily in Columbus as in Arizona.
“We sell to and through office furniture dealers, and those dealers sell to end-user corporate clients,” Stone says. “In order to scale up, it’s simply a matter of getting more dealers and or getting more reps to educate those dealers.”
Kj Studios operates with a strong commitment to the community.
“That means we are committed to manufacturing in the USA, specifically in Ohio,” Stone says. “All of the components are sourced in Ohio. The assembly happens in Columbus.”
In addition to new lines and national development, it’s been a big year for the behind-the-scenes facets of Kj Studios. Stone is one of the participants in the ScaleUp program.
“Having a curriculum to help me develop my business acumen to the next level has been incredibly helpful,” Stone says.
It has all come at just the right time for the manufacturer. Stone notes, “Learning how to prioritize our strategic initiatives to grow the business in a way that makes sense,” has been one of their biggest challenges.
A talk by Michelle Kerr of Lightwell helped Stone reevaluate their objectives, and the necessity to just focus on a few at a time to really achieve goals.
“If I had a well-conceived strategic plan, clearly articulated for the team, we would have something the entire team could creatively align on in moving forward to meet those objectives,” she says.
With the knowledge from the program in tow, Stone is ready to aim big for Kj Studios.
“The other thing the program has really opened my eyes to is the potential is much, much bigger than I’ve ever dreamed before,” she says.
For more information, visit kjstudios.com.