Member Spotlight: Oh, Hello Co.
He’s an army brat who paid his way through college by doing wedding photography – and lying about his age at the time to score new clients. “Who wants to hire an 18-year-old to do their wedding photos?” he said. She’s a YouTube famous beauty and design vlogger with over 20,000 subscribers (seriously, look it up). Together, they’re the dynamic duo behind Oh, Hello Promo and Oh, Hello Stationery. Meet Alex and Kayla Benda, the founders of Oh, Hello Co.!
Alex Benda was working in finance when his wife Kayla said she wanted to start a stationery company. Kayla acted as the overall visionary for products, design, and strategy, while Alex was the chief graphic designer. Within months of starting Oh, Hello Stationery, it was so successful that it eclipsed his salary, and they decided to focus on it full-time. Not long after that, clients enjoyed their products so much that they wanted versions with their companies’ logos on them – and Oh, Hello Promo was born.
“We do Spectacular.”
Despite being known for promotional items, Oh, Hello Promo is so much more than a company that makes branded pens and business cards. You also get a marketing firm that helps you develop a strategy for those promotional items based on your audience and goals. “If someone asks us to make a hundred pens to hand out at a conference, I’m like, do you think people will hold on to a ten cent pen all day and remember your company later on? No, it will just get thrown in the bottom of a bag and forgotten,” Alex explained. “There’s so much promo out there. I can put your logo on pretty much anything. I can laser engrave your logo on a car if we wanted to. If you’re fixated on pens and business cards, you’re never going to stand out. That’s where Oh, Hello Promo comes in. We do spectacular.”
3D Printing Outside the Box
Spectacular was the case when Velodyne LiDAR hired Oh, Hello Promo to make promotional items for the 2018 International Consumers Electronic Show in Las Vegas, where different companies came from all over the world to show off their latest and greatest technology. “They were originally going to hand out some promotional items, but I said, ‘let’s do something spectacular,’” said Alex.
For those who don’t know, Velodyne LiDAR is the company behind the sensor technology that detects nearby people for the Google self-driving car. Thinking outside the box, Alex 3D printed those sensors, placed them in remote control cars, decorated them in vinyl, and drove them around the showroom floor, handing out free keys to passersby. “Everyone that got a key was told to go to their booth for a chance to open treasure chests with prizes in them – and the winners got to keep what was inside! It drove so much traffic for them,” said Alex. “I think that’s why we’ve been able to cultivate such a great client list,” Kayla added. “We provide them a service beyond promotional items – and that service is free of charge!”
Interview with Alex & Kayla Benda of Oh, Hello Co.
What are the most satisfying thing and the most challenging things about what you do?
Kayla: We say yes a lot. We love solving problems and want to help so many people, which can be both satisfying and challenging.
Do you work with more large businesses or small businesses?
Alex: We work with a lot of both. I do have a soft spot for small businesses and startups though. I know what it’s like to be broke and freaking out about having to make ten sales this month or else you can’t eat. I built the company so that we can do a lot of one-offs, which would cater to small businesses more. We can do just one coffee mug, for example, so that they can look more professional. There’s no one else I know that can do that and I wanted to offer that to small businesses and startups – but large companies ended up liking that too! If you need one mug, one hundred business cards, three t-shirts, and a step-and-repeat, we’re your guys.
What’s your philosophy in running and growing your business?
Alex: A client came up to me once because their mom started a house cleaning business and needed a logo design and business cards. She didn’t have much money – and the time it takes for me to design a logo for big clients is the same amount of time to design one for the little guys. I could just say no and try to get more business from the bigger clients, but we’ve been little guys before and are sensitive to those struggles – so we don’t want to approach business that way. We believe that we will grow by giving the same service to IBM that the Joe Schmoe down the road gets.
Why open your business in Grand Rapids of all places?
Kayla: A lot of Oh, Hello Promo’s success came from being in Grand Rapids, I think. It’s a community that’s so welcoming to new people and everyone wants to help you succeed. We may have moved here on a whim, but we’ll stay here because of the inviting community that fosters growth.
Why did you join the Chamber and how has it helped you in your business?
Alex: When I first heard about the Chamber, I thought it would be a bunch of stuffy old white men sitting around, smoking day old cigars, talking about how great it is to be rich. In the year in a half since I joined, my relationship with the Chamber has developed into a team that supports my small business and helped me get a substantial increase in my sales.
During my first month of being a member, I went to the New Member Orientation. I figured if we were going to be paying for a membership, I might as well get the most out of it, even if it was free coffee.
What I got was so much more than free coffee. I was dazzled with how useful that meeting turned out to be – and that is before it ended up landing us one of our largest clients. From the structured networking that made it easy to learn about other Chamber members, to learning more about how the Chamber can help my business grow, it was a jam-packed info session that had tangible and immediately actionable information.
During the event, I thanked a man in uniform for his service, and we ended up chit chatting about what I do and how I come from a military family, myself. Two months later, I got a call from the Great Lakes Army Recruiting Batallion. They were looking for new vendors and ended up placing one of the largest orders in our company’s history. With that one order, we doubled our monthly quota.
Only a few months after joining, it not only paid for itself but launched our business into the next level. I hope anyone reading this realizes what a fantastic resource there is available to companies of all sizes here in Grand Rapids. I look forward to meeting you at the next Chamber event. Look for a tall red-bearded guy with a bow tie.
For more information on Oh, Hello Promo, visit ohhellopromo.com
To view Oh, Hello Stationery’s collection, visit ohhelloco.com
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