By Emma Castleberry
Parents of school-aged children are all too familiar with the sensation of drowning in art projects. “They say the average child creates 800 pieces of artwork by the end of elementary school alone,” says Meg Ragland, co-founder of Plum Print. “Where do you put it? What do you do with it all?”
For many families, those precious art projects end up stuffed in a kitchen drawer or under a bed. That was the case for Ragland and her business partner Carolyn Lanzetta in 2012. Both women were raising preschoolers in New York City apartments, where storage space wasn’t exactly plentiful.
“We asked parents with older children and nobody had a solution,” Ragland says.
So, Ragland and Lanzetta created one: Plum Print. Lanzetta spent multiple hours photographing her daughter’s artwork, then designed and printed a hardcover book. When she shared the finished product with friends, everyone wanted one for themselves. A business was born.
Here is how it works: the customer pays a deposit and Plum Print ships them a prepaid box. Anything that fits in the box—sculptures, murals, even trophies—will be photographed and digitized upon arrival at the Plum Print office. Plum Print then sends the customer a digital proof of the art book to approve before delivery. And all that artwork in the box? For a fee, Plum Print will return it, or—to the delight of many a parent—send the pile on to “Artwork Heaven.”
“It’s totally full-service to make it super easy for busy parents,” Ragland says.
As busy parents recognized the value of this product, Plum Print grew. The company moved its operations from New York to Asheville in 2013. Last summer, they moved into the Hatch space, a community of seven early-stage, high-growth companies in downtown.
Plum Print is deeply involved in Asheville’s vibrant startup business community. The company also offers community support through school fundraisers, in which parents can drop off art at the school and order a book, or do so online through a school-specific link. Plum Print provides the school with a percentage of the sales generated through the link or at the school.
Meredith Love, who now owns several artbooks, discovered Plum Print when the company did a fundraiser at her children’s elementary school. For Love’s family, the process of creating a Plum Print book has become a tradition.
“It is a fun project for me and my kids to go through all of their work at the end of the year,” she says. “I have them pick which ones they want to keep and I do not always agree with their choices, which is generally amusing and interesting. It’s like walking down memory lane of their year of projects.”
Ultimately, artbooks are about saving space and finding an effective way to store memories. So unless you plan on wearing that macaroni necklace to work, it might be time to ship it off to Plum Print.
To order a Plum Print product or learn more about the company, visit plumprint.com.