While most people would panic at starting a family business during a pandemic, Kyle and Laura Reynolds embraced it. Kate's Magnets, previously known as Kate Grenier Designs, was acquired by the Reynolds back in February right before the pandemic hit.
“The business was started by our close friend Kate back in 2006,” Kyle explained. “She did a great job growing the company, and it’s our joy to be handed the baton. We all get along, so it was an easy transition.”
The couple has been thriving amid the entrepreneurial challenge. Since taking over the business, they’ve expanded their online presence, added wholesalers, and leveraged new marketing strategies… all while balancing Laura's career, Kyle’s doctorate work, and their two boy’s homeschooling during COVID-19.
“This is a true family business,” Laura said. “Kyle's main job is production and order fulfillment, and our kids help put magnets in the tins, add labels, and run quality control. One of our sons even bike-delivers packages to the post office.”
Making magnets is quite the process. Each set is handmade, from design concept to the finishing touches. Designs are hand-punched and added to recycled bottle caps, epoxy is poured onto the image, then heat is applied to bring out any bubbles.
“I flame-torch each magnet three times, in 20-minute intervals,” Kyle explained. “Then I look at each magnet, pop any stubborn bubbles with a toothpick, and 20-ish hours later they’re ready to put into tins.”
The Reynolds believe it’s the care and attention to detail that makes their magnets stand out. Every order gets a handwritten note on their invoice, and they message each retail store a thank you. They also include a Kate's Magnets sticker with each order.
“It’s fun to care for the customers,” Laura said. “We both have an entrepreneurial streak to us. It's also been fun to involve the kids in the process. They understand our attention to detail and are taking their jobs seriously.”
The Reynolds also value sustainability. All magnets are made from recycled bottle caps from breweries in Canada. They prioritize eco-friendly materials and enjoy delivering packages by bike.
“My favorite part of our business is biking the orders to our local mail post,” Kyle said. “It's also a daily reminder to me of what a green, locally-made business can be. From start to finish, this is what we value.”
The Reynolds are excited to grow their company across the U.S. and Canada, but still get more satisfaction when a local order comes through.
“We’ve lived here for 19 years,” Laura said. “This is our community and very much home.”
Being Sammamish residents, they sell several magnet sets that showcase our area. This includes Bellevue, Issaquah, Seattle, and other regional places. They’ve also made custom sets for Chihuly Glass, Dick’s Drive Thru, and Facebook. Most recently, they've added a Quarantine 2020 set that features iconic pandemic-related images and funny phrases.
“Our art holds memories, and memories are particularly precious during tough times,” Kyle explained. “We take that responsibility seriously and are grateful for all of the artists in the world and the message of hope they continue to spread.”
Browse all 100+ magnet sets on Kate’s Magnets online shop, and follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and their blog.
This blog is part of our new blog series: heART of Bellevue. As an alternative to the 6th Street Arts Fair, the BDA – in partnership with Amazon - will feature local artists who would have participated in this year’s festival. Support all of our artists who were going to participate in this year’s fair by browsing their artwork and portfolios on our website.