All Corey Clark needed to open his new business was a sign.
So he turned to Gina Kazmerski and her crew at Image360 in Woodbury at the recommendation of his peers.
"They all pointed me towards Mike and Gina," he said.
From storefronts to niche props, Gina Kazmerski and her husband Mike have been filling in the gaps for new businesses since 2013, when she opened the Woodbury franchise of Image360. Part of the international graphic design franchise network, Alliance Franchise Brands, a team of five have helped hundreds of clients from Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as a handful of other states. The small company recently upgraded to a larger location off Commerce Drive.
“I think really important starting out was just getting to know people ... A big part of our businesses is creating that trust relationship with our clients,” Gina Kazmerski said. “We view ourselves as part of their business.”
A team of five have provided graphics for hundreds of local clients, from decals on business vans to Woodbury High School athletic banners and interior signage.
“We see our work literally everywhere we go,” Kazmerski said.
Sometimes, people tap the business for more novel ideas, such as a pretend Red Ryder BB gun box for a local production of "A Christmas Story," courtroom graphics and a 3-D sign for Land o’ Lakes.
“As you're talking about the types of equipment that you have … people are like, ‘oh, you think you could do that?'’” Kazmerski said. “We can do some weird things.”
After earning a bachelor’s degree in advertising and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Kazmerski worked for companies including Chrysler, W.W. Grainger and AlliedSignal, holding a variety of positions in buying, product management and leadership. When deciding her next steps after taking time off following the births of her children, she said she and her husband looked at all of her strengths built from previous positions climbing up the corporate ladder. Image360 seemed like the ultimate next step, she said.
“There were other ones we looked at, but this one did everything. It’s marketing, it’s running production, it’s being out in the community,” Kazmerski said. “It really was kind of a nice blend.”
Kazmerski chaired the board of directors for the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce from 2018-19, and continues to serve on its executive board as well as various task forces.
“(Gina and Mike) are deep rooted in the community. It’s more than just their company that they want to do well, they want their whole community to do well,” said Laurie Staiger, president of the chamber.
Staiger said the chamber has selected Kazmerski’s shop for its signage needs since first working with her.
“Working with Gina, you start being professional and pretty quick into the relationship, you’re able to have fun. She’s the kind of person that you want to work with, because ultimately you become friends,” Steiger said.
In the Image360 office, Nerf gun fights and prank calls are common occurences, Kazmerski said.
With an upbeat work culture, she said she and her team are able to focus on providing transparent, cost-effective services.
“We have to be good stewards of their business money and their decisions for marketing. We'll tell people if they're, spending their money in the wrong places with us,” Kazmerski said. “As long as we're very educated on and knowledgeable about the types of materials that are out there, we can work with them to come up with a solution.”
Clark, who works another job full-time, was eager to start his laundromat but didn’t know how to begin with signage, he said.
The process can also involve several steps.
“We knew there needed to be approvals with the landlord, through the city, all these things,” he said. “What we love about Mike and Gina is they are so knowledgeable about their business and what needs to happen. They’re easy to be with, but they also work with a sense of urgency.”
That drive is woven into the design process for the whole team, Kazmerski said.
“We're literally talking about that customer's order every single day until it's gone … Everybody has a piece of it somehow,” she said. “Every single day I learn something new and find a different way to do something, which makes it fun.”