MOUNT Enjoyable, Pa. — Richie Ray has fond memories of spending a lot of his youth developing up in the Madison, West Virginia, location.
“I attended Danville Elementary university and afterwards Madison Elementary, and then we moved,” Ray mentioned through a cell phone interview. “My aunts and uncles nonetheless dwell in Madison these days. I however have a bunch of family there. When I go to, a great deal of it seems to be the identical to me from when I was growing up.”
Ray utilised to spend a whole lot of time in the Coal Valley News offices as a youth. His mom, Diane Ball, wore numerous hats for the paper which include receptionist, circulation and promoting responsibilities.
“I can nonetheless remember the structure of that creating,” he said. “I would engage in in the constructing whilst she would be functioning on advertisement placement. Becoming there and looking at her do that has constantly trapped with me. I was almost certainly in between 6 and 8 a long time old.”
Ray, 43, claimed that looking back again, he realizes how lucky he was.
“We didn’t understand how good we had it then,” he stated. “Once I was touring as a musician, I believed every single spot was like that and it certainly was not.”
Ray toured as a singer/songwriter with the act “Shindig” for above a 10 years, but nowadays he has settled into a extra domestic everyday living in Pennsylvania with his wife, Stormy Knight, and 10-12 months-outdated son, Milo.
Ray, a 1996 graduate of Sissonville Higher College, invested 18 a long time living in the Louisville metro area of Kentucky, which set him just a five-hour drive from several metropolitan cities as he dedicated to a arduous recording and touring schedule before opening a recording studio where by he would develop up-and-coming functions in different genres. He stated he in no way consciously sought to depart the Mountain Point out, but it was additional about geography and accessibility at the time.
“I never know if I was simply just pushed or didn’t have any good feeling,” he stated, laughing. “Likely a little bit of equally.”
Nowadays, Ray is the operator of “That Banner Person,” a full-support printing business that specializes in anything at all from novelty merchandise like substantial school sports buying and selling card sets to gigantic professional banners and indications.
“I uncovered to develop my personal advertising things years back primarily based on a want,” he reported. “I generally desired amazing album covers for my band and fliers for our exhibits and T-shirt styles, but no a person all over was executing what I wanted, so I dove into learning how to do that and I genuinely delight in graphics work.”
1 of Ray’s designs went viral on a countrywide stage when he designed a buying and selling card in 2020 for Joe Unique, a character from the “true criminal offense documentary” Netflix series “Tiger King.”
“I marketed the first batch I established virtually immediately,” he stated. “It just took off.”
Ray obtained term that Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage, improved identified as “Joe Exotic” was acquiring requests to signal the cards from jail, where he is serving a 22-12 months sentence related to fees of animal abuse.
Ray also noticed good results with a wrestling-themed card recreation that made above 150,000 playing cards.
The entrepreneur’s hottest venture comes with a greeting card business named “Flawmark” that specializes in humorous greeting cards for approximately just about every event. The plan stemmed from Ray’s desire to make pandemic-themed Christmas playing cards. The website phone calls the 43 playing cards it features “tongue-in-cheek and occasionally offensive” humor. The Christmas cards bought out, and he knew he was onto a thing special.
The pandemic had temporarily shut the doors of numerous of the common consumers of his printing company, so he appeared to assume exterior the box.
“It was encouraging to see the in general response to it, and it was place collectively fairly swiftly, but with attention to depth and careful internet marketing procedures,” he mentioned.
Ray has found a specialized niche for his item and has started distributing to retail outlets on the East Coast with hopes of continuing a constant, balanced development.
The most well-known Christmas presenting was a Grinch-themed card that proposed that it was the Grinch who developed COVID-19.
Ray mentioned his intent was to bring a tiny creative, but tasteful, humor to people today as they stressfully navigated a holiday getaway year manufactured more complicated by the pandemic.
“It was very apparent to me that persons bought it and they appreciated it,” he stated.
Themes of his cards include things like birthdays, appreciate, life situations and farewells.
Ray mentioned his artistic electrical power will come from the motivation to see an concept by way of to the end.
“I’m just a terrible worker if I’m doing work for somebody else,” he claimed. “I have so significantly respect for people today who can do that, but I’m just not wired that way. If I’m performing for myself, I’m certainly inspired and driven like insane, but if I’m working for an individual else, I just do not care. I just can’t assist it. My father is an wonderful electrician and I just marvel at what he does, but I’m just distinctive.”
The Boone County native mentioned he pays close notice to pop culture and trends on social media when developing new goods.
“I seriously fork out consideration to what is going on nationally and I am consistently imagining of new concepts for what can truly market,” he mentioned. “The magnificence of printing it myself is that I can layout a thing and put it out there and if nobody likes it, I can pull it down and it is completed.”
Ray claimed he wants to target additional on large university and university sporting activities, and group buying and selling cards are goods that never ever go out of model and make fantastic keepsakes.
He realizes that at some point, he’ll most likely have to outsource his printing.
“That is a fantastic difficulty to have if you just can’t preserve up with your gross sales,” he said. “I know that as I develop that will be one thing I have to take a challenging look at, and I’m obtaining to that level now that it can be difficult. When you perform for oneself, you have to make those people challenging choices. I’m really excited with my new products and solutions and what I have on the backburner, launching in the upcoming.”