The company, founded by Steven Kaye, originated from the idea that religion, and Christianity in particular, couldn’t keep up with today’s technology. Now, just a year after start up, Creation By Design is selling its Bible-based products in more than 1,000 stores and recently received the okay to begin selling in Barnes & Noble.
“Steven actually was listening to the radio and a very prominent televangelist was talking about essentially how religion cannot keep up with modern-day technology in this day and age of iPods and iPhones,” said Larry Carpenter, CEO of Creation By Design. “He took that as a challenge,” Carpenter said.
With his art background, Kaye began to create images from the Bible using a technology called computer-generated imagery, or CGI. While this type of imagery is found in today’s movies and video games, Christian products are still using the old-fashioned hand-drawn animation style used by Walt Disney in the 1980s.
Creation By Design basically started with 200 computer-generated images that Steven created.
“He basically had 200 different images from the Bible before he developed the first product — it’s almost like the dog chasing the car that ultimately caught up with the car and is, like, okay, what do we do now,” Carpenter said.
What they did next was to find a niche product to break into: Trading cards.
“The original product that we came out with back in 2009 was a line called MyBibleCards and you’d buy them basically the way old-schoolers would buy baseball cards with the five cards in a packet, only we don’t have any gum in there,” Carpenter said.
The company chose this niche because it is a product that kids are familiar with and seem to like. “It’s hard to escape the fact that for the last two Christmases the number one selling gift product both years has been children’s trading card products,” Carpenter said.
The next step for Creation By Design was to develop more products, the first of which was a book series based on a 9-year-old boy named Xander Nash. In each story, this precocious boy goes back in time to visit different biblical happenings.
The first three books came out in October 2010, at which time the company’s product penetration jumped from 100 stores to more than 1,000. Creation By Design plans to release the next set of three books in April, followed by another set in the fall of this year.
Other high-tech products that the company is developing include T-shirts with biblical graphics.
Low-overhead business model
Creation By Design has decided to take the low-overhead business model. The company currently consists of Carpenter, Steven Kaye as the chief creative officer, and Seymour Kaye as the chief financial officer.
“It’s a very small company, and what we’ve been able to do is do everything else through outsourcing,” Carpenter said.
For example, the company uses five freelance designers to create images, a freelance sales rep company called Genesis to take care of the sales, a distribution company called STL Distribution, and an independent manufacturer based in Maryland to produce the T-shirts.
“We could get to the point where we have to add more head count, but, quite frankly, right now we’re comfortable with the outsourcing model,” Carpenter said. “I think it’s the way companies are going to operate in the future,” he said.
The company did not give sales and net income figures but said the company has been growing exponentially since its debut in 2009. Creation by Design estimates sales will hit $1 million this year.
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