Correction: A previous version of this article mistated the revenue jump for Barn Owl Primitives. The company saw a 100 percent increase over 2013, not 10 percent. This version has been corrected.
There is life after LivingSocial.
Sean Quill, who oversaw hundreds of employees as vice president for consumer operations for the District-based daily deals company, is onto his next start-up.
Quill, 45, is helping his wife, Kristi, 43, run a wall decor business called Barn Owl Primitives. Sean is the owner/operator, while Kristi is the owner/artist.
Barn Owl has three employees and $300,000 in revenue, which is a 100 percent jump over 2013.
There are two ways to get signs. Kristi creates her own, handmade and hand-painted signs on high-grade pine, then “distresses” them for an antique look.
Those are sold only online, and they carry wholesome messages such as “You Are My Sunshine,” “Keep Calm and Carry On,” “Read a Book” and “Be Kind to Everyone.”
Kristi has personally sold 7,600 signs. Barn Owl, which sells all Kristi’s pine products online, has 50,000 Facebook followers, 20,000 Instagram followers and 14,000 on Pinterest.
The other way to get Barn Owl Primitives is through Hobby Lobby, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Wal-Mart.com and Art.com. These are licensed to wholesalers who photograph Kristi’s works and print them on canvas or paper. Between 75,000 and 100,000 have been sold this way.
The Leesburg-based company began in 2009 as a hobby for Kristi, who is a teacher by training.
Royal Sprinter, the Mercedes Benz luxury van service between New York and Washington, is adding a third vehicle less than a year after the start of the private commuter service.
Owner Andy Seligman said the service breaks even so far, but he is investing well over $100,000 to buy the third vehicle.
The business, which hopes to peel away high-end travelers from Vamoose, Amtrak and Boltbus for Interstate 95 trips, is about 50 percent full.
“We’re doing okay,” he said.
To boost business, Seligman is increasing the frequency of the buses. Since it opened in April, buses started only in Washington. Beginning in January with the arrival of the third bus, Royal Sprinter will leave both New York and Washington every morning, returning to each city in the late afternoon or early evening.
Seligman also is redesigning the layout of the vehicle, which will decrease from eight seats to seven to increase comfort. Seligman is adding bigger tables and expanding the seat size.
Seligman is customizing the Sprinter himself at a facility he has outfitted in Gaithersburg with an investment of $50,000. He plans to customize and sell more Sprinters in the future for wealthy individuals, limousine companies and organizations.
“The market can be from an embassy to a professional athlete or a businessman who wants a mobile office,” he said. “These have more room than a limo. You can even add a bathroom.”
Tessemae’s All Natural salad dressing signs deal with Courtyard by Marriott to have its French dressing become the house brand in all 800 Courtyard by Marriotts. The Baltimore County-based Tessemae also snagged a national deal with Kroger and with Renaissance Food Group out of Sacramento. Renaissance will package Tessemae’s dressings with all of its pre-cut produce products. Renaissance pre-cuts produce for Safeway, Kroger, Trader Joe’s, Publix and Wal-Mart.
Potomac entrepreneur Danielle Tate is wrapping up the end of the year with big business news. On the heels of placing MissNowMrs gift cards in 3,700 Rite Aid stores, she secured a test trial in 100 Target stores nationwide, from Pittsburgh to Indianapolis to Las Vegas. If pilot sales perform well, she’s anticipating a full-store roll out to all 1,800 Target locations in the United States. “I’ve been pressing Target for years to carry our gift cards” Tate said. MissNowMrs.com is an online name change service for brides that claims to complete all the legal paperwork in 30 minutes instead of the traditional 13 hours. The company has assisted more 250,000 women with their name changes.
Eastern Foundry, an incubator focused on helping small tech companies win government contracts, opened in Arlington’s Crystal City last week. The incubator, which has room for 70 offices in 21,000 square feet, has already leased 75 percent of the space. Early next year, Eastern Foundry will launch a one-week boot camp that will help businesses learn the ins and outs of getting contracts. Mitchell Schear, president of Vornado/Charles E. Smith, which owns the building where the incubator is located, hosted the launch party.
Private equity bigwig and former hotel industry mogul Fred Malek received the Anti Defamation League’s Achievement Award Dec. 15th at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington. Several local business leaders attended, including Ben Jacobs of JBG Cos. and Bobbie Kilberg of the Northern Virginia Technology Council. Malek said what “truly matters in the long run is that we treat all with dignity and respect, that we are true to our word, and loyal to family and friends.”