Hi everyone, I'm nominated for the Shine A Light competition through American Express and NBC. I would greatly appreciate it if you read the story below and voted for me! Your endorsements get me to the next stage, so I greatly appreciate your support. Winners receive $100,000 and marketing service from American Express
From the nomination:
Each year 2.2 million couples marry in the US. This means there are approximately 4.4 million people looking for a first anniversary gift each year. Paper is the traditional first anniversary gift. Joe Bagley and his wife, Jen, found a perfect way to use Joe’s talents as a paper artist to create unique and personal gifts for these couples.
Facing a double layoff in the fall of 2008, Joe and Jen had a choice, enter a competitive job market with dwindling openings, or get creative. Joe had been dabbling in the art of papercutting for several years as a hobby, but the sudden explosion of free time allowed him and his wife to explore the possibility of creating a career from his art.
Joe creates his art by hand-cutting hundreds to thousands of holes in a single sheet of black paper. His art has been shown in museums and galleries along the east coast. Papercutting, as an art form, has existed as a folk art around the world for over 5,000 years.
Jen found, online, that paper is the traditional gift for first anniversaries. With this inspiration, they together set up an online business where Joe works directly with his clients to create papercuttings for couples celebrating their first anniversary together.
One year later, Jen has found work in her field of expertise, and Joe has a successful online business that he runs out of his small home studio in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston. Using the most cost-effective forms of marketing and advertising (online ads, word of mouth, and the hand-made goods website Etsy.com) Joe and Jen have managed to create and grow their business from scratch during these tough economic times.
Papercuts by Joe Bagley now adorn the homes of happy couples in almost every state in the US, and eight countries abroad. By far one of the most rewarding aspects of the business is hearing the stories of couples receiving their Papercut and knowing the piece will be passed down for generations.
Along with his art, Joe has volunteered with the Boys and Girls club teaching children the ancient art of papercutting. He has toured numerous local libraries presenting a lecture on the Art and History of Papercutting. Joe has also donated numerous pieces to local charity auctions.