Courtney Janson and Mike Weber were flourishing in their careers (accounting and analysis, respectively) when, in 2015, they dreamed up a business idea that would allow them to share their love of creating functional treasures. Fast-forward four years: They are engaged to be married, and they are owners of successful Clink! LLC in Ephraim, Wisconsin. “We wanted to move to Door County for its arts and culture, but also for its healthy business environment,” Courtney said. They opened their first-of-its-kind studio on Memorial Day, 2018.
Clink! is a do-it-yourself craft studio where Courtney and Mike offer a variety of wood, leather, jewelry, and home décor projects. Clink! provides all the necessary tools, materials, instructions, and assistance to help novice crafters. Their inviting space, where people who finish a project can relax while waiting for the rest of their group to finish, includes a lounge with a bar and games.
Crafting a Marketing Program
Clink!’s customers range from individuals to groups such as birthday parties and family reunions. “We’ve had customers as young as 4, as old as 94,” Courtney said. Mike added, “We’ve deliberately created this relaxing space where anyone from the young to vintage can comfortably learn a new skill, try out a fun hobby, and enjoy a refreshing experience that’s truly unlike any other.”
The number of returning customers has surprised Courtney and Mike. “Because the business is located in a tourism destination, we think it’s unique to already have repeat customers in our first year,” Courtney said. “People are bringing in their family and friends.”
Social media has proven effective to promote Clink! The business also uses local radio, print advertising in Door County publications, tourism rack cards, and listings in the Door County Visitor Bureau directory.
Research led to Entrepreneurial Training Program, Cash Prize
Courtney and Mike began business planning by researching resources. They soon came across the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP) offered by the Small Business Development Center at UW-Green Bay in partnership with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Through instruction, guest speakers, and coaching, the ETP course serves those who are considering starting a business as well as owners of existing businesses. Coursework addresses legal and financial issues, staffing, accounting, record-keeping, and marketing. The program combines individual counseling and group sessions over eight weeks.
Courtney enrolled in the course in January 2018. Tara Carr, Director of the UW-Green Bay SBDC, led the program. “Courtney’s skill set aligns with the financial part of the business, where most participants struggle. She and Mike were both very well prepared,” Tara said. Consultant David Stauffacher worked with Courtney and Mike on completion of their business plan, one of the key activities of the ETP course. While the cost of the class is $1,000, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) provides a grant covering up to $750 of the tuition if the participant completes a “passing” business plan. Mike and Courtney’s plan did more than pass—it won first place in the Door County EDC’s contest, accompanied by a $1000 prize.
Tara observed, “We see this type of business in metro areas. It’s nice to see one succeed in the arts and crafts community of Door County.”
Accomplishments with the SBDC at UW- Green Bay:
- Completed Entrepreneurial Training Program
- Created Business Plan which won first place award
- Achieved funding
Focus on building the brand
With their first anniversary in business approaching, Mike and Courtney are focused on expanding the portfolio of craft projects they offer and building out their brand. “We need to continue to provide quality in both our service and our product,” Courtney said. “We continue to meet with Dave Stauffacher as it’s great to have objective, experienced advisors during our critical first years.”