About the Company
“For years I’ve been buying weekly planner/calendars that claim to be large-print. Yet, I still had to use a bold marker so I could read the words and numbers. I just wanted a calendar that met my low-vision needs.
I am affected by RP (retinitis pigmentosa) which steals peripheral vision, light sensitivity, acuity and eventually most or all of one’s eye-sight. So reading text on paper is impossible unless it is large, clear and uncluttered.
In late 2014, I started looking for the weekly planner I was going to buy. It had become harder each year to find one at the big box stores that worked for me. I then started looking on the internet for large print or easy-to-see weekly calendars. But even there, nothing I found was going to work for me. By the end of January of 2015, I had given up looking. I realized that I was going to need to make my own.
I have been blessed with a creative and problem solving nature. So with marker and ruler in hand, it took less than an hour to lay out the key features of a weekly planner/calendar that would work for me. Some weeks later, I showed my work to a neighbor who has a home based graphics business. She liked what she saw and agreed to help me get it to a point where it could be printed.
By late March the layout came to life. At that point, I was ready to print one at the local quick print shop. Then came the first two shocks. Because of the unique black lines around the edge of the weekly pages, the printing had to be done by a large-scale printing house with the big machines.
The second shock was hearing that printing my one little calendar would cost over $100. But the printer said that printing a few more, only raised the price a little. Thinking if I could find a few buyers for them, I could reduce the cost for my copy. So I told them to print a few more.
I was a little concerned that anyone but me would want it. After all, the calendar only started in April and lacked any monthly pages. I knew it was a gamble, but one I felt I had to take.
By April I had my calendar and was using it. As I occasionally showed them to people dealing with vision loss, I was a bit overwhelmed by how enthusiastic many were upon seeing the calendar. By May, the extras were gone.
At times it was both wonderful and humbling to hear those first buyers praise both the calendar’s design and me for creating it. Hearing them say that with this calendar, they could far easier manage their daily schedule. When I asked how they were doing that now, I heard everything from using a large wall-size calendar all the way to their spouse had to do it. I could see why this design made such a difference.
Hearing the same sort of reaction and stories over and over really got to me. In addition, on multiple occasions I was encouraged to start a business and make more to help more people.
But starting a business was the furthest thing from my mind. I retired years ago, I have a busy life and I’ve never been a business person. But I couldn’t shake the memory of the enthusiastic reaction that people had when they got it in their hands.
I’ve been dealing with progressive stages of vision-loss since a child. But I only became involved and came to know many blind people in the mid-90s. As with all of us, each of these people had traveled their own path. Some had overcome obstacles. Some of what they faced, I wasn’t sure that I could have overcome. Had blindness not brought us together, I would never have met them. Their lives are a testament to true resilience and grit. I truly believe that my life has been enriched by knowing many of them. Maybe if I were to produce these calendars, I could in a small way, give something back to this community.
During those times of deciding what to do, the words of my father, long passed, would come back to me. He had much small business experience. How I wished I could talk to him about this decision. I remembered him often saying something like, “don’t get in a business or try to sell something that you don’t really believe in”. Remembering these words helped me decide.
By June I had long decided to do it and was up to my elbows in the ever lengthening list of what needed to be done. This included: establishing the business in the eyes of the government, finding a printer for a much bigger print run, finding help to create a website and preparing its content, developing a marketing plan and materials and a dozen other small and large tasks.
Reaching out to existing online catalogue companies and getting them to carry my calendar seemed to be the best way to let the most people know of the EZ2See™ calendar. While it took a lot of work, all three companies I approached eventually placed orders for over 125 calendars. This was a real confidence booster. These companies saw something in the product that they thought people would buy. They didn’t do this because they knew and liked me. These were real business people making hard-nosed business decisions. But they also told me that they would only be interested if they could get delivery in October. That meant I had about four months to finalize everything and get to the printer an electronic file of a camera-ready 2016 calendar. Yikes!
I more or less knew what I was getting into when I decided to do this project, but as they say the devil is in the details. And oh boy, were there and still are, a lot of details! I now have even more respect for anyone who starts a small business.
And so began the Big Push. I spend nearly every day of the week and nights too, dealing with one or another of those pesky details. Progress took place, but it was a stressful time. All of the obligations I had prior to starting this adventure didn’t disappear. Time with family and friends diminished. Personal time pretty much vanished. Endless hours on the phone and computer were the norm. My wife faced a steady stream of proofreading all sorts of things I was writing. Thank goodness I married an English major.
But on that rainy October morning, when the 2016 calendars were delivered by the printer, all that I had done seemed like it had happened overnight.
But they do no one any good sitting in those boxes. If they are going to help people, then people need to know that they exist. If you’ve bought one of my calendars, please let those around you see it. If you’ve just read my story, I hope you’ll help spread the news of the EZ2See™ calendar.
Every calendar sold improves the life a little bit of a low-vision person.