August 08, 2019 4 min read
We constantly get asked: who came up with the idea for Push Pin Travel Maps? The short answer is that we both did. To answer that question fully, we have to go back 7 years to 2012, which is the year we got engaged. Upon returning from Dallas on one of our football motivated treks, I started thinking I wished we had a map to track all of our travels together. When I was single I used to have a laminated map that I pinned to the wall of my apartment, but kept it in my bedroom because I didn’t want company to see my tacky wall map with push pins sticking straight into the wall. I didn’t want to do that again because I wanted to share our adventures with people who came to our home and wanted something that I was actually proud to display and that didn't damage the wall. I told Mike that I wanted to get one so we started looking around at local stores and online and weren’t happy with anything we found. First of all, the maps we found were way overpriced. Secondly, we really didn’t like the look of any of the maps or frames. Mike came up with the idea: well why don’t we try to make one ourselves? And that is exactly what we did.
We searched and searched and finally found a frame and a map that we really loved. We then figured out how to make it, with plenty of trial and error, and voilà…we had a beautiful framed world map that we hung up on our wall that we could use to mark where we have been and plan future adventures. Friends told us how much they liked the map so we thought; well I wonder if other people would like these maps as well. So, we decided to give it a go. We started out small and bought enough material to make a few more unique map designs. We created a website (thankfully Mike is a computer whiz, unlike me!) and the maps sold pretty quick. We originally hoped to sell a few a month as a side hobby and to help pay for our wedding. After they sold so fast, we thought maybe we can turn this into an actual business. At that point we did a ton of research on the mounting and framing process and invested in the heavy duty equipment needed for a professional product.
We started out making the maps in our garage and stayed in there for the first year, while we both worked full time jobs. There were a lot of 60-80 hour work weeks, with very little social time those first few years. At one point our garage was so full of pallets of frames and other material that we had to move them in and out of our garage to the driveway just to have room to work. If it looked like it might rain, we quickly moved them back in. Not an ideal situation, being at the whims of the weather! We realized at this point it was time to get our own warehouse as this solution was not going to work forever and we were getting weird looks from curious neighbors. We outgrew our first warehouse in less than a year and took a leap of faith and quit our "regular jobs" after year 2, hiring our first employees shortly after.
It has been a wild and amazing ride so far, with lots of ups and downs and mistakes, but a really fun and rewarding learning experience. Since the very beginning of this journey, we have taken customer feedback to heart. The first thing we added that customers kept asking for was personalization on their maps, so we invested in an engraving machine so we could personalize the maps with a metal plaque, which really made our maps all the more special. We also added new frame colors at the request of our customers. We eventually started making our own frames as well, which really opened up the possibilities of our product offerings, and invested in a high end canvas printer to offer even more choices to our customers, including custom personalizations printed directly on the map. In the past year we have hired a graphic designer, added even more frames, including some cool premium frames, and created dozens of new maps as well as other travel products like our canvas Travel Art and Bucket List Trackers. We are currently working on creating individual State Maps for all 50 states, which is a fairly large undertaking, but our customers have asked for them, so we realized we better get on it! We also have tons of other cool ideas planned as our company continues to grow. We honestly can’t believe how excited we get over maps now! :)
We both say all the time that it is such an unexpected and random path that our lives have taken. If you'd have told us 7 years ago that someday we would have our own business making maps, we would have thought you were crazy. We never expected that the idea of wanting our own map to track our travels and making our own when we couldn’t find one we liked would start this business. We feel incredibly grateful that this journey has gone so well to date. It has been unbelievably rewarding to hear from customers how much they love their map or how excited their loved one was to receive our map as a gift. It makes the success of our business all the sweeter and we look forward to continuing this journey and seeing where our path takes us next.
-Mike & Brenda
Founders - Push Pin Travel Maps
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