Karen Ardinger, Founder of Plata Chalkboards, found herself airing live on HSN’s 24 Hour Craft Event just this month. What was once a spur-of-the-moment idea to create a simple Christmas decoration, later turned into an entire line of water-resistant, outdoor-friendly chalkboards with magnetic stencils to easily create signs for all seasons. Read on to learn how Plata Chalkboards leveraged RangeMe to participate in The Big Find® product search that earned them a spot within the QVC/HSN family.
The remarkable journey from unemployment to entrepreneurship
It all started when Ardinger and her family celebrated her in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary with a big old-fashioned square dance. As she unpacked from the party, she came across a chalkboard they used as a prop for a photo booth at the event and decided to repurpose it as a Christmas decoration for her front door. After personalizing the board, Ardinger realized how difficult it was to write the calligraphy style she wanted to achieve. This DIY decoration was the first spark to her fiery entrepreneurial spirit.
Sometime later, Ardinger was unfortunately laid off from her job, jump-starting her mission towards making the next best chalkboard—one that comes with magnetic and interchangeable stencils. With support from her family, she went into her crafting room and eagerly started working on the prototype. “I didn’t have any background in business. I was an English major and an Art minor,” says Ardinger. “I didn’t have any experience, but through online research, I figured out how to find suppliers, meet safety standards, and so on.”
However, what was still missing was the brand name. After a family meeting, the Ardingers came up with Plata Chalkboards. “My daughter brought her beloved stuffed platypus named Plata to the meeting,” she explains. “We thought, oh, you know, platypuses are unique, just like our chalkboards.” From there, the small family-owned and operated business got rolling.
RangeMe plays matchmaker
As a women-built family business, Ardinger has encountered many challenges throughout her journey as a business owner. Suppliers and clients continuously ask to speak to her husband over her. She explains that as a woman, when working with suppliers, “you really have to earn their respect and prove you know what you’re talking about.”
Ardinger further explains that the movement towards women’s equality within the business world is consistently getting better, and her recent experience with HSN has given her voice a full soapbox.
About a year after joining RangeMe, Ardinger received a call from her Supplier Success Manager, who shared an opportunity hosted by QVC and HSN called, The Big Find®. With only a week to submit, Ardinger immediately started creating a two-minute submission video introducing herself and her brand.
Out of 2,400 submissions from 60 countries, 270 companies were interviewed, and 90+ brands got awarded “Big Tickets,” including Plata Chalkboards. The awarded brands received the opportunity to introduce their products to an audience of millions across QVC and HSN’s multiple platforms. Plata Chalkboards participated in a 24-Hour Craft Event on HSN on March 1, 2022.
HSN was super supportive throughout the setup process while preparing brands to participate with the show host through video. “They help you with your lighting, background visuals, check your internet connection, and cameras,” describes Ardinger. “One thing that I loved about working with HSN is that they went over everything with me. It made my product and pitch better. It was a great learning experience.”
The segment was a success! HSN is now shipping Plata Chalkboards to homes across the USA. “It is a monumental opportunity to become a member of the HSN family of brands and gain exposure to their extensive and very loyal customers,” says Ardinger. Part of their success can be directly related to the way consumers like seeing the humans behind the products they buy. When describing what pieces of advice she would give to fellow entrepreneurs, Ardinger explains, “Be yourself, be passionate about your product and the why behind what you’re doing. What most consumers value is products with differentiation and authenticity.”
A chalk to remember
What started on a shoestring has now become a booming business with plans to grow even more. Plata Chalkboards is looking to expand into events and foodservice. “Looking ahead, we would like to work with hotels, wedding venues, restaurants, and small shops,” she explains. “This is a natural next step for us because of how often chalkboards are used in these industries, and Plata Chalkboards can make creating beautiful signs easy for these businesses and services.”
“I am very thankful for RangeMe. I would have never applied for the opportunity with QVC and HSN otherwise,” concludes Ardinger.