HardbackYoYo: Keeping Great Books in Circulation

Address: 1 Wellington Rd Northbrook, IL 60062
Phone: (847) 807-9111
owner: Brian Martin

“Taking old books and turning them in to hardcover journal books, DVD/VHS journals, ornaments, framed titles, ‘worldly birds,’ book jewels and bookquets”

How I Discovered HardbackYoYo and Brian Martin/How the Business Works:

I was fortunate to serve as group leader of a trip to Israel where owner, Brian Martin, was a participant.  Over breakfast one day, Brian started sharing details of the company he started.  “I got the idea at an art fair,” reports Brian.  “I was looking for a job and took my love of books and being environmentally friendly and decided to create a business!” Brian started the business in 2010.  He takes old books which were donated or from the library and “turns them in to journals.”  He notes that he takes the first page, the last page and the cover and adds 8-1/2 by 11 paper to it can be used as a journal.  He also adds a card pouch and a date stamp “like in a library!” 

Brian does all of his work from home workshop.  He produces a range of products in addition to the journal books.  He reports that he:

-takes scraps from pellets and turns them into Christmas tree ornaments.

-glues spines on to a blank frame with a particular theme to make frame tiles

-makes jewelry

-makes “bookquets,” turning maps into flowers.

Brian reports attending art shows and trunk shows, and has “ a good partnership with his mother.”

From the Website:

The Hardback Story

When I was 18 years old, with graduation just around the corner, I was in need of a job! So my family and friends (old and new) gathered to form a team of support. Together they helped me to launch a customized business that would create a product of interest not only to myself, but hopefully to you as well. My passion for books and keeping the earth a great place for all of us t live has inspired me to create an eco-friendly business; springing old books into a new purpose. I make writing journals and other items from discarded media. We call it a microenterprise because I am the entrepreneur of this small business.  I have a form of Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, and a customized job is always the best way for me to accentuate my strengths.

Update:  I am proud to report that I have been running my own business for over 10 years. Just like many self-employed business owners, I rely on the help and support of others. It makes working more fun and I get advice and input from a variety of people. My product list is growing and you can find my items in retail stores and at local fairs, conventions, expos and my Etsy store all year-round. Most importantly, I am making an income!  Just like other employed business people, I am paying taxes and I feel like I am contributing to my own well-being and my present and future work potential. I reached my goal of earning my Medicare Credits before my 22nd Birthday!

Lessons Learned/Challenges/Advice:

The lessons I learned were maintaining my stability for long hours in public shows and presentations. I use social media to announce new items, offers, and shows. I also run an Etsy store to sell journals when I’m not doing any shows. It can be a challenge for me to think about using social media on a regular basis to increase sales, though I do enjoy using social media for communication on other topics. During this past year, not having face-to-face and in-person events of any type have decreased my sales, and I am currently trying to rethink my business plan to be more sustainable and ensure my sales stay steady whether in-person or online.

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