S also stands for State Fair of Texas.  

Quite well-timed, I got an email late yesterday with this photo of me in the Wine Garden there last fall.  It was posted on the Fair’s Facebook page.  News to me!

Through an interesting string of connections beginning in the summer of 2009 and culminating in a deal last August, I landed an opportunity to put my work before the huge attendance of that annual event at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.  The 3-week run usually sees well in excess of a couple of million Fair-goers. They come from far and wide, many from other states.

Booth space goes at a premium with reservations beginning in March….if you’re lucky enough to be chosen.  I was able to bypass all that but had to share revenues with the food vendor who owned the wine concession.  It was a sweet deal that cost nothing up-front and yielded business there and lots of potential customers for the future.  

Now, at just over 4 months since the close of the 2011 Fair, I can say the residual business has surpassed what I did while in the Wine Garden.  Everyone who visited my table for more than a minute or so got one of my unusual fold-out business cards with photos, ample descriptions of my work and classes, and contact information.  

If you’re going to pursue what I do with this engraving thing, first you need to learn the skill.  There are several ways to accomplish that.  Then, you must create a business card that stands out.  Make it unique in some way.  Visit several bulletin boards where people tack up their often tacky cards.  Blur your vision a bit, stand back, and notice which ones seem to jump off the board.  Determine if it’s the color, shape, or size that grabs your attention.  

Look at them closely.  Notice color and content. See how you can incorporate part of that in your own card design.  If you’re the least bit crafty on your computer, hammer some of the elements together that made you notice the cards you saw on your card safari.  Take what you’ve done on a stick-drive to FedEx/kinko’s and ask about costs to get your ideas in print.  

Depending on the complexity of your design, you may need to find a small commercial printer with the equipment and wherewithal to produce your idea.  Kinko’s is great but limited in many ways.  

Your idea could be pricey the first time but a great business card goes a long way in selling your skills.  Talk to the printer about the difference in price in color or some really snappy black and white.  Choose good paper stock.  Of course color shows more pizzaz in the presentation but it will cost more.  Discuss quantities and where the price breaks are to help you decide what works for your budget.  

My business card is virtually the only advertising expense I have.  They work magically.  When I engrave a single SmileStone™, the recipient gets a card with it.  Every bottle of wine I do in my public events gets my card taped on the back.  Later, when the card is removed, even if the recipient of the gift never sees my card, they’ll see my very legible signature on the back of the bottle.  Googling KEN BROWN ENGRAVING, or KEN BROWN CALLIGRAPHY, will bring forth pages and pages of information so they can find me for more.  

BOTTOM LINE:  Develop your skill to a keen level.  Have a killer business card to support that talent.  Give a small wad of them to every business in your area that sells something you could engrave.  Hit the road and sing your song!  



  1. Tony Rhyne March 14, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    Thanks for the good advice Ken. The wine business here in Virginia is booming. I’m delivering an engraved bottle this Friday to the director of sales and marketing of a local limousine company. They specialize in wine tours throughout the state and I met her at a wine expo this month. She has been looking for a special thank you gift to give to her customers who organize the wine tours. She is very excited about what I do. I just thought I would share another example of great possibilities out there.

  2. cheri March 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    So glad the fair turned out good after all… we’re all believers in “you never know!”

    And Congrats Tony! Hope it goes great!

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