A lot of businesses start in a garage. Whether they stay there or grow to be global corporations, all begin with a small space and the passion for an idea. So it was for Brian and Melanie O'Neil of Rustic Marlin Designs who transformed their search for wedding gifts into a booming custom sign business.
The couple's new home and DIY ethic led to creating their own wedding party gifts – signs with the last names of their siblings made from wood reclaimed from their recently installed floors. These first signs took over a month to create, but they enjoyed the work. The gifts were so well received at the rehearsal dinner that other patrons at the restaurant asked where to purchase the signs.
Growing demand from friends and family kept them busy at night and on weekends until they enlisted help from woodworking friends to streamline processes. It was a tipping point – the realization that their little labor of love could be a growing business.
"To be honest, we just stumbled into launching this business, and we are happy that we did," said Brian.
As their distribution quickly grew through a network of wholesalers, they needed to establish a consistent identity. The first signs were labeled with stenciled paint – time-consuming and messy. Next was a branding iron, but the heat was inconsistent and dangerous.
"We needed a way to brand Rustic Marlin products in a uniform way with the right look," said Brian. "It needed to be easy to install and something that was going to last."
Internet searches surfaced metal nameplates, including Metalcraft's AUTOGRAPHS® Nameplates. These custom asset labels feature inks and a clear coat that deliver protection against UV rays coupled with clear, crisp reproduction of company logos and designs.
"I was looking for a cool, little metal tag that was made in America," said Brian. "Metalcraft was the best fit."
Now, the Rustic Marlin team "hooks and tags" as the last step in production – batch installing the signs' hooks and Metalcraft nameplates.
Rustic Marlin's original month-to-produce sign design is now made as many as 30 times each day, and the customized product offerings continue to expand as the business grows through retail and online sales. Each sign bears the Rustic Marlin Designs name, and the nameplate is getting compliments, especially from repeat customers.
"We've been really happy with the Metalcraft nameplates and the final touch they add to our unique products," said Brian.