When Andrea Grossman designed her first decorative sticker, she had no idea her name would become legendary for launching an industry based on such a simple product. Synonymous with the highest quality, cutting-edge design, vibrant, clean colors, and extraordinary, almost legendary, variety, Mrs. Grossman’s stickers are recognized all over the world. The way it all happened might surprise you.
This sticker story begins more than thirty-five years ago. Andrea was a free-lance graphic designer working from her home in Woodacre, CA. Her studio was her kitchen table and her first employee was her eleven-year-old son. Her customers were small, discerning retail store owners who loved Andrea’s line of elegant stationery and paper products and her business was doing well.
When a close friend and owner of a popular Sausalito gift store asked Andrea for some red hearts to stick on gift wrap for Valentine’s Day Andrea couldn’t find any supplier who made such a thing. So Andrea cut a very simple, elegant heart out of black construction paper, sent it to a label printer and forgot all about it.
A few weeks later a large carton arrived at her front door. When Andrea opened the box she was stunned! The thousands of red hearts had not been printed on flat sheets like she requested, but had mistakenly been printed on rolls – like ribbon! They were breathtaking. Andrea immediately realized this dazzling ‘mistake’ could turn into something pretty interesting. These gorgeous heart stickers could be more than something to decorate a product; they just might be the product itself!
When the rolls of red hearts hit the tiny Sausalito shop, customers went wild. Instead of buying one, they were buying ten or twenty and cutting them off the rolls like ribbon. Andrea was amazed. These stickers were a huge, unexpected hit and she knew she could be on to something big.
Andrea designed nine more stickers and introduced ‘Stickers by the Yard’ at a national stationery show. There was nothing in the market like it and retailers, always looking for something fresh and new to increase sales, swamped Andrea with orders. Nobody had expected this huge response and soon Andrea and her team were working night and day to keep up with the demand.
In less than two years, Andrea went from two employees (her rep and her son Jason) to fifty. She was adding ten to twenty new sticker designs every month and sales were going through the roof.
Business was booming and recognizing an untapped new market, new sticker companies were cropping up like mushrooms. Young girls all over the country were collecting, cataloging and trading their stickers and Mrs. Grossman’s could barely keep up with the demand. Soon, what People Magazine called “Stickermania”, became a national and international craze – one that Andrea never expected or encouraged. Her stickers were little art forms and she and her design team stayed true to that vision.
When the ‘craze’ died down and collecting stickers lost its appeal, it wasn’t long before another phenomenon catapulted Mrs. Grossman’s into the stratosphere. Scrapbooking!
This home-based crafting activity involved millions of women (primarily) banding and bonding together to create one-of-a-kind scrapbooks based on celebrating and preserving family history. Called ‘scrapbookers’ these crafters were using everything from ribbons and decorative papers to stamps and stickers. And guess whose stickers were the most popular in the industry. Mrs. Grossman’s!
Today Mrs. Grossman’s stickers are sold all over the world. The company is located in Petaluma, CA. in an elegant contemporary 50,000 square ft. building that is perched on the edge of a wildlife preserve. The factory houses its own massive printing plant and offers the only sticker factory tour in the world.
Employees can bring their well-behaved dogs to work and a group of exceptional developmentally challenged adults bring their extraordinary skills to the assembly department. Mrs. Grossman’s was officially certified “green” in December 2008 and has received more than ten local, national and international awards for their innovative sustainable practices. Over the past twenty years the company has donated more than 20 million stickers to children in hospitals all over the world.
For more than twenty years, Andrea’s son, Jason Grossman, has been working alongside his mom. In 1998 he launched Paragon Label, a division of Mrs. Grossman’s. Under his leadership Paragon has become one of the most successful, high-end wine and food label printers in the North Bay winning countless awards for precision printing.
In the late summer of 2008, Andrea named her son Jason the new president of Mrs. Grossman’s. Both mother and son are going strong as Andrea spends much of her time working tirelessly with a number of faith-based non-profit organizations and Jason continues to run two companies side-by-side with the help of his two dogs, Chip and Rango.