ABOUT SEED OF HAPPINESS. Seeds of Happiness has been committed to creating smiles, literally, since 2006. The Kirkwood, Missouri company manufacturers unique, smiling faced figurines they call “seeds”, meant to be shared by people with anyone they know who could use a smile – and it’s all done by hand with tender loving care. What started out as leftover lumps of clay that sculptor/owner Mark Borella made into little smiles to give out to friends who were going through hard times has blossomed into a successful business and an international phenomenon. And talk about a winning smile, the Seeds of Happiness are now produced en masse by a dedicated group of artisans in what the company affectionately calls The Smile Factory. In addition to their strong support of charities, Seeds of Happiness proudly associates with a local Sheltered Workshop, Canterbury Enterprises, where special needs individuals form the balls of clay that are the first step in every smile. From there, one of their “Smile Artists” handcrafts each smile that leaves the door.
The concept is simple, give someone a seed (a smile!) to brighten their spirits, and then in turn they’ll share it with others in need of a smile, and on and on. It’s been such a success that today, these adorable little seeds of happiness can be literally be found all over the world. They also offer specialty variations on their smile creations, including drinking mugs with smiles, apparel and more. Although staffing levels are fluctuating due to the Covid-19 issue, the company typically employs 10 people making and distributing their smiles to spread seeds of happiness. As the company says, “we create the seeds, but it’s up to you to make the story grow.”
THE CHALLENGE. Seeds of Happiness had quickly grown beyond their wildest dreams, and they were challenged to meet the demand for their smiles. They realized that if they wanted the company to be sustainable, they needed to morph from a group of dedicated artisans and incorporate some basic business and manufacturing principles into their operation. Although they were producing product as quickly as they could, they weren’t generating reliable profits, so they reached out to Missouri Enterprise to help them understand their costs of doing business and maximize their efficiency.
MEP CENTER’S ROLE. Missouri Enterprise’s project manager helped them conduct a detailed cost analysis on their key product lines and the results gave them tangible evidence of what they dreaded and suspected – they needed to raise their pricing if they were to be sustainable and continue to plant seeds of happiness throughout the world. They were happy to learn that value and demand justified the price increases as robust sales continued and their sustainable profitability rose. Missouri Enterprise also assessed their operational efficiency, a unique endeavor due to the completely hand-crafted production that makes every smile they produce a unique work of art. “Your people do an awful lot of walking” they were told. Some simple changes to equipment and workstation layout helped them further maximize an already efficient operation. Under Missouri Enterprise’s guidance, Seeds of Happiness was able to make a few cost-effective adjustments to their operation that helped them continue to grow sustainably.
“Our simple little smile sculptures, each one individually handcrafted, proved to be magical. They carry a power of hope and happiness that transcend that little piece of clay – they become powerful symbols to recipients, a tangible reminder that someone cared enough to give them a smile when they needed it. But we were struggling to keep our company going. With Missouri Enterprise’s help, we’re confident in our ability to operate profitably and sustainably into the future, so we can continue to help people plant Seeds of Happiness whenever they see someone who could use a smile.”
- Almost 10% increase in sales
- Increased profitability
- 2 new jobs created
- 8 jobs retained