Good old fashioned team work and creativity sell the "country folk art" products of Missoula entrepreneurs Donna and Shirley, keeping them in work up to their ear lobes. They combine reselling of manufactured collectibles with selling their hand crafts and custom designs to focus on their own brand of "country" products under their Montana Teddy Bears name.
Nothing they do looks like traditional marketing largely because they believe an essential part of their enterprise is to have fun and share that fun with their customers. As an example, they pack orders for Williraye Studio collectibles with a hand written thank you note and a huckleberry chocolate treat from Pine Mountain.
Cooperative spirit promotes their customer goodwill as well as helping other entrepreneurs like Pine Mountain introduce their candies far and wide. The team often shares their expertise setting up displays and booths for quilt shops.
Their marketing finesse reflects Donna's 16 years in business management and Shirley's 17 years doing trade shows, notably the Annual Renaissance Fair in Missoula where they command an entrance location.
Since they've gone on the Web with willirayecollection.com, they have sold internationally to Canada, Australia, Iceland and France as well as across the US.
They sell "Pumpkins in a Row" under their Country Lore Designs division. Donna creates her own quilt patterns packaged in hand-lettered brown paper envelopes illustrated with Shirley's photographs. Her country choreographed photos of quilted wall hangings show yards of pumpkins surrounding Donna's "Pumpkins in a row" quilt, while antique spools, sewing machine, and wrought iron set off the "Redwork Around the Spools" design.
Another quilter, Gina, does their elaborate machine quilting. Donna's other originals include cloth dolls, some made with delicate gourd heads. Shirley finishes the dolls with grapevine and wire details. Donna also creates custom quilted banners for other quilt businesses. The list goes on.
Shirley, a retired school teacher, also oversees the technology end of the business with their Williraye Collection online store. She prepares all the catalog entries for the website and contracts a website designer to take care of the shopping cart and catalog nuts and bolts. It's not really retirement.
Down the line they foresee fabric design. For the near future, Country Lore Designs will be joining the Williraye Collection on the Montana Teddy Bears website. Since they are often on the road marketing and attending fairs, they are most easily reached via their website email: firstname.lastname@example.org.