SPARK Publications—our mother ship, our home away from home, our bastion of sparkly virtue—began as Fabi Preslar’s one-woman, home-based, lifestyle business twenty years ago, a degree of longevity less than 28 percent of small businesses achieve according to the US Census Bureau. Though it remains wholly woman-owned, it has grown into a brick-and-mortar firm that employs Fabi’s husband, Larry, and daughter, Sofi, as well as other custom-publishing experts. As a whole, we call ourselves the SPARKlers. (Feel free to employ jazz hands or sparkle fingers as you read that in your head. We do.)
Because of the firm’s overall excellence, innovation, ethics, philanthropy, and contribution to the strength of the region, we have been selected as a finalist in the Charlotte Business Journal’s 2018 Family Business Awards. We’re super-proud to be included among the other finalists, which you can read more about here. Below is a little bit more about why we were selected to be among this elite group.
The firm’s story is a classic, small business tale of resilience. It’s weathered several recessions in its twenty years. Each time, Fabi tweaked our services and business model to respond to changing technologies, industries, and markets, and all while growing our award-winning, professionally trained editorial and design team. Our caliber of creative excellence has also allowed us to attract and build a portfolio of national association, trade, university, and lifestyle clients.
We put the “design” in “design thinking,” which is part of the creative philosophy that continuously has our team innovating on behalf of our clients. The clients share what they want to achieve, and we help them figure out how to create, launch, and implement that vision. For example, one of our large, national, trade media clients came to us in need of employee-engagement solutions to wow some of its top retail clients. So we brainstormed options, then designed and developed a unique, interactive, employee-engagement microsite with gamification. Doing so has helped them round out their print publications to reach a new digital audience.
As individuals and as a firm, the SPARKlers abide by both the golden rule and the law of karma. These principles set the tone for commitment to service, ethics, and community involvement. They also led to clearly defining roles for each family member and each team member, maintaining transparency in all aspects of the firm’s operations, and at times turning down business and partnerships that weren’t a fit for our culture and business model. Additionally, as a small, privately owned business, SPARK Publications maintains certification through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which includes an in-depth review of the firm’s finances and a site visit.
Since the firm’s first year in operation, intentional pro bono and charitable activities have focused on entrepreneurship and women’s issues. Fabi Preslar also gives her time and talents (and when appropriate those of the SPARKlers) to mentor college students and small business owners.
Contribution to the Strength of the Region
Aside from consistently providing jobs for the SPARKlers and helping clients grow their businesses, the firm’s biggest regional impact came from creating b2bTRIBE, a magazine that provided valuable exposure to over 600 Charlotte-area small businesses. Publishing six issues of the magazine required a significant investment of our time and skills, all to benefit the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
All finalists will be profiled in a special report in the Charlotte Business Journal’s April 20 issue and recognized at the awards dinner on May 3. Winners in each category—small company, mid-sized company, large company, and first-generation business—will be announced at the event. Click here to register for the event. We hope to see you there! And contact us if you’d like our help creating a magazine, catalog, or book.