DrinkBlots – Made in St. Louis, USA

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DrinkBlots are shipping!

Never heard of DrinkBlots? You’ve come to the right place!

Or maybe you have heard of DrinkBlots, think they’re as awesome as we do, and are counting down the days until your order arrives. It won’t be long now!

In the meantime, take a look at how DrinkBlots went from just an idea in a brainstorming session to a super cool finished product. :)

These are DrinkBlots.

These are DrinkBlots!

At a glance, they’re art coasters. Beautiful, super-absorbent paper coasters that come in convenient, notepad-inspired packaging.

Sure, it’s a kick-butt product ;). But to all of us at Magnet Works, it’s much, much more than that. It’s more like a newborn baby! To help explain what I mean, I’ll take you step-by-step through the process of bringing DrinkBlots to market, and introduce you to all the people who made it happen.

It all started with great art – thanks to Sue (our art director, president, and a co-owner) and Anne (our director of product development). Sue and Anne scour the earth, seeking the best artwork by the best artists. As you may already know, they’re quite good at it! Sue has been art-hunting for our legacy products for over 24 years!!

Sue (my mom ;) reviewing artwork for DrinkBlots in the conference room, while holding her very first grandbaby, who was born in July...right after DrinkBlots!

Sue (my mom ;) reviewing artwork for DrinkBlots in the conference room, while holding her very first grandbaby, who was born in July…right after DrinkBlots!

With so much beautiful art around, coasters seemed like a great fit as a new product for our company. We wanted to contribute something new and remarkable to the category. We didn’t want to make “just another coaster.” We brainstormed for hours and hours, led by Curt (Magnet Works co-owner and CEO), who ultimately came up with the DrinkBlots concept.

Curt at the Cloud

Curt (my dad ;) leading a brainstorm session at “the Cloud”, his home away from home.

With the idea formed, we worked with 24 artists to create a wide array of designs that range from quirky to classic. Each artist’s coaster deck contains 24 unique designs, so no two coasters in the deck are the same! 24 different artists x 24 different designs = WHOA, that’s a lot of art!

So then it was time for our graphic design team (Cathy, Amy, and Christine) to see some DrinkBlots action. They worked hard adapting each artist’s designs to make sure they look their best on our DrinkBlots coasters.

Cathy, Amy, and Christine - graphic designers in the art department.

Cathy(top left), Amy (right), and Christine – graphic designers in the art department.

Then we move to the production. Amy creates the production files of the product to be printed.

DrinkBlots Production Image

A sample production file featuring artist Stephanie Burgess’s coasters.

Amy passes the production files to Jeremy, who preps the absorbent paper, lines it up on the press, and runs the printing process.

IMG_5550

Jeremy, our digital printing wiz.

Then Jeremy carts a stack of the printed coaster paper over to his dad, Jerry, for die-cutting.

Jerry, who has worked with us since 1988, is die-cutting the DrinkBlots into the coaster shape.

Jerry, who has worked with Magnet Works since the company began, is die-cutting the DrinkBlots into the coaster shape.

Jerry runs the stack of printed coaster paper through the die-cutter, peels off the trim, and stacks up the decks of DrinkBlots.

Jerry Die-Cutting 2

Jerry removes the excess trim around the die-cut coaster paper.

Then it goes to assembly for the DrinkBlots packaging to be applied…the last step before it’s a finished product!

Peggy Assembling DrinkBlots

Peggy in the assembly department applies the packaging stickers to the DrinkBlots deck.

Once we have the finished product, it’s time for a little marketing! That starts with spreading the word and telling the story – through photography, copy writing, advertising, press releases, social media, email, and more!

DrinkBlots photoshoot

Here are some of the members of the photography team. They’re totally in the zone as they work on the beautiful shot that you see at the top of this post. Thanks to Rob Grimm Photography for doing such an amazing job!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the production team continues to make product for inventory while the warehouse team (led by Kris) creates storage space and finds a way to keep things organized for order picking.

Warehouse Team

Jason, Mike, and Kris (left to right) prepping the warehouse for all the new Studio M inventory.

As market season fast approaches, Debbie Baker, Tammy, and Colleen beautify our showroom space and display windows, to help customers see just how incredible DrinkBlots really are.

DrinkBlots Display

Tammy, Deb, and Colleen did an amazing job with this display at our showroom in The Gardens, Americasmart Atlanta. In fact, they won several awards this past show for having such outstanding displays!

Our DrinkBlots window display at Americasmart Atlanta.

Our DrinkBlots window display at the Atlanta market.

FINALLY, we start writing orders!

The effort is led by Debbie Glud (our national sales manager) and our team of over 100 sales reps from various agencies across the country. The first orders were written at the Atlanta Market, but now they’re being written “on the road” all over the country.

When the orders come through, customer service (Ann, Nancy, Maureen, and Julie) dots the i’s and crosses the t’s, sorting everything out to make sure our customers are well taken care of.

Maureen in customer care...taking care of a customer

Maureen in customer care…taking care of a customer :)

If an order comes from a new store, Connie pulls together all the necessary information to get them set up in our system.

When the order is ready to go, our shoppers compile all the necessary products and prepare them to be shipped.

Shopping DrinkBlots

Leslie and Jason pulling the first ever DrinkBlots order from inventory to be shipped out.

DrinkBlots

Last, but certainly not least, DrinkBlots are boxed up with care by our shipping department and sent out to our retailers.

Shipping DrinkBlots

Sherry packing up DrinkBlots with care.

We couldn’t be more excited to be expanding our manufacturing repertoire and creating more jobs here in St. Louis, USA!

Thank you to all who had a hand in making it possible – including our raw materials suppliers, UPS shipping, and, of course, all of our wonderful, independent retailers! We know you (and your customers!) will love DrinkBlots just as much as we do. :)

Like I said, DrinkBlots are shipping! So if you’d like to place an order or get more product information, please visit our website, contact your local rep, or give our customer service department a call at (800) 886-3121. Meanwhile, let us know what you think of the whole process in the comments!

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22 Responses to “DrinkBlots – Made in St. Louis, USA”

  1. joanbeiriger Says:

    What a great product!!! As a licensed artist, I love to see a wide selection of art and view the process from product conception to finished product. Very inspirational! I’ll be searching for DrinkBlots at retail. Joan Beiriger

  2. Judy Says:

    This was awesome. I LOVE seeing the inner workings if a company. I read it from beginning to the end too! Here’s to a successful line with DrinkBlots!

  3. Amy Says:

    Awesome Post!

  4. carol eldridge Says:

    interesting post…can’t wait to see my designs on the drink blots coasters…thanks for showing us the nuts and bolts of how they are manufactured…very interesting.

  5. Judie Says:

    Great to see made in the USA in action.

  6. Becky Schultea Says:

    I worked in the early 80s as the product designer for Christian Enterprises in Houston,, a wonderful inspirational gift manufacturer run by our families – wow this certainly brings back lovely memories! Love seeing the process and all the people that make it all happen. Wonderful to see made in the USA – makes my heart happy! Thank you…

  7. Marty Qatani Says:

    I echo Joan Beiriger’s comment. As an artist, it’s always interesting, and educational, to see how products are developed, manufactured, and marketed.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Maaike Says:

    Wow, that was such a fun and inspirational post to read! I’m not sure if I want to run out and start a company, or become an artist or, or…. Well, definitely buy drink blots! A package of drink blots and a nice bottle of wine (hey I live in California) sounds like the perfect hostess gift, or thanks for looking-after-our-cat-while-we’re-on-vacation gift, or just because gift. Thanks for starting my morning with a smile!

  9. ftr1950 Says:

    Great marketing piece.

  10. Cyndy Price Says:

    Wahoo for DrinkBlots! Great concept, great use of art, great product roll out!! Loved Made in USA! SOAK up the success you are due!

  11. Cathy Hunt Says:

    Wow, I love the product. I love the packaging. I love the behind the scenes story. As an art licenser I am encouraged to see products with beautiful artwork on it. As a consumer, I want to know where can I buy some of these! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Cathy Hunt Says:

    Forgot to mention, I also love the name!

  13. Lance Klass Says:

    Great that you took us through the production and packaging process on these beautiful little coaster sets. You can’t lose with a product line like this. Good luck!

  14. JJ Jacobs Says:

    Excellent blog post — I loved reading about the product idea from inception to completion, and commend you on running such a thoughtful, caring business . I wish you and your wonderful group of employees much success!!

  15. Deanna Libengood Says:

    I did not see these at the Atl show. Is there a way I can get a sample of this great new product.

    • Mike Todd Says:

      Certainly! If you could email your store name and contact information to debbie.glud@magnetworks.com, she would be happy to connect you with a local rep, who can get some samples out to you. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do for you. Thank you for your comment and the compliment on the product!

  16. China Carnella Says:

    I agree – thanks for showing us how DrinkBlots are manufactured – so interesting! And thank you for making them here in the USA – go St. Louis!

  17. Pam Says:

    These are great! Thank you for the story. Love the Made in the USA aspect so much, and happy to see they are recyclable.
    Best to you!

  18. melissaswanseynicholson Says:

    I love this post! Great story, great idea, great finished product. Looks like a fun place to work. Although the coasters may be too beautiful to cover with a drink!!

  19. susanmiller1 Says:

    I first discovered you at the Atlanta show, I love my Drink Blots. They work really well and they are very pretty, a perfect combo.

  20. Dennis Connors Says:

    Drink Blots are great!

  21. NEW product…DrinkBlots! – Lisa Frost Studio Says:

    […] Magnet Works, my new partner, is best known for their outdoor garden flags but they have recently expanded their business into new directions with the introduction this year of Studio M – their new artful outdoor living concept and DrinkBlots! […]

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