I often say, Arkansas FlagandBanner.com is my first born. Then I had 4 real children.  Today, at 60 years old, I gave birth to my 6th pseudo child, BRAVE Magazine.  When passing out my beautiful, bi-annual, glossy periodical at restaurants and lobbies, I feel just like a proud momma. Can you tell by all the adjectives!?!

The idea of our own magazine came earlier in the year.  Like all good business owners, I am not thinking about today but the future.  What is AFB’s future position in the flag industry? Since my purchase of the internet name flagandbanner.com in 1995, I have been focused primarily on internet sales.  With internet retail being almost 20 years old, it is time to think of something new. IKR!

I started Arkansas Flag and Banner in 1975 with a small yellow page ad and door to door sales.  When gas prices exploded, I begin to invest what was once my gas allowance into yellow page advertising in the surrounding states.  Soon Ma Bell (aka southwestern bell) was deregulated and with long distance calling now affordable, I moved to telemarketing. With the increased sales I was able to hire outside salespeople and pursue tradeshows.  Next came the revolution of data collection and targeted mail- marketing campaigns ensued.  When I heard of the about the internet in 1995 I quickly changed my focus to internet retail.  So what is the next hook for Arkansas’ FlagandBanner.com.

Opening the mail one evening, it hit me: a magazine about us and our customers.  Over the past 40 years I have heard a lot of great stories from customers and employees.   Each week, the employees of AFB and I gather for a 7 am, Monday Morning Meeting.  Often the general talk will bring up a story from the previous work week.  We’ve discussed sharing these stories through blogs, facebook, and then it came to us, why not a small magazine?  It rang true.

That night an employee dreamt the magazine’s name was BRAVE and boom the concept was born.

We all have a story to tell. We all start lives brave.  Brave to be born, to take our first steps, to go school for the first time. Being brave happens at all ages and can be on any level.  When I passed out my first edition of Brave Magazine at Woodland Heights Retirement Center, where my 91 year old mother resides, the ladies challenged my concepts the elderly often do. They demanded, “I am not brave.”  I disagreed, and asked “Weren’t  you scared to move here to Woodland Heights?” And suddenly they all felt Brave.

Most of us think about Brave as a word used to describe someone facing great danger or challenge; brave to go to war, to run into a burning building, to serve and protect.  But there are all kinds of brave: brave to face a debilitating illness, or accept death.  And then there’s life changing brave; brave enough to change jobs, start your own business, move, get divorced, or even change yourself.  Well you get the idea.  This magazine is about being Brave in Life.

So here we are, months later, with a 32 page magazine full of hard work, excitement, creativity, challenges and yes, our own Bravery.  Making this magazine and working with my great staff at AFB has reenergized me in my career.  I look forward to work again, which can only be good for my employees and customers.  Can’t wait for Edition 2 out in Spring 2015!  It is already in the works and I am jazzed about its content!  You’re gonna love it! So check out the Brave Magazine website at www.bravemagazine.com and share your brave story with us!

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Last week I spoke about literacy in the United States and how I too had difficulties reading as a youth. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I discovered that I had dyslexia. That however has not stopped me from finding joy and fulfilment in reading as I have gotten older. Here are more books I recommend for anyone from business people to children to the average Joe. Professionally:

  • Lee Iacocca (I find biographies inspiring.  They are just ordinary people who did extraordinary things.  Make me feel like I could do that too)
  • The E-Myth (may be the most influential book I ever read in my career.  If you own your own business you need to read this book)
  • Throughput (helped me understand the work flow of my business and adjust our company business procedures)
  • Monday Morning Leadership: 8 Mentoring Sessions You Can’t Afford to Miss by David Cottrell (my employee Kirk gave me this.  It changed the way I manage my employees. It is a very quick read and simple tools for managing people and building a team environment.)

For Fun: (I love historical fiction, you may need to be a southerner to like the below books)

  • Lonesome Dove
  • Eyes are watching God
  • Gone With the Wind

Children’s Books:

  • Pong and Diingy (read this in the car on the way to the beach.  Family was laughing out loud.  Best road trip ever.)
  • Wizard of Oz (it is different from the movie.)
  • White Fang
  • And really any of my children’s middle school reading requirement books.  They are surprisingly educational and interesting.

Only one of my 4 children was inflicted with this learning disability but like me he makes up for it in so many other great ways.  Everybody is good at something.

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Who knew that 14% of Americans cannot read, and 49% read on an 8th grade level? Another 14% have dyslexia. I wish I’d known that when I was in school. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so down on myself. Each school year, I vowed to work hard, not get behind, pay attention, and make B’s and C’s. Not even A’s would have satisfied me. But alas, by the second week I was already behind in every class that required text book reading.

I felt obligated to try to go to college because everyone else was going. Man, was I nervous! It goes without saying that one semester was all I could manage before I accepted that I was not college material. To redeem myself, I later tried and successfully completed a one-year vo-tech program in fashion merchandising. It did wonders for my self-confidence.

Having children has lots of benefits, but here is one I never would have guessed: every night I read to my children, and as they grew, so did the reading level of the books I read to them. I learned to slow down, read the punctuation, and practice, practice, practice simple reading. Pretty soon I was reading my own books for pleasure.

I am not a big proponent of naming and categorizing every personality trait we humans have – OCD, ADHD, ADD, and so on. But since my days in school during the 1960’s and 70’s, they have given my poor reading skills a name, and that kind of makes me feel better. I am dyslexic and no longer ashamed to admit that I am not a great reader.

Despite that, I there are still some books that enriched me personally and professionally, educated me, or were just plain fun to read:

Self-help:

  • Passages by Gail Sheehy (I read this in my early 20’s and it helped me understand myself.)
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (This book helped me make the leap from student to professional.)
  • Dress for Success by John T. Molloy (My brother gave me this when he saw that I was still dressing like a hippie.)
  • The Game of Life by Florence Scovel Shinn (My mother gave me this to get me through some hard times, when I needed help overcoming my negative life and thoughts.)

See Kerry’s next blog post (Monday, Sept. 29. 2014) for more of her reading lists including Professional Interest books, kids books, fiction and more.

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Hello Friends of Dreamland,

Its Dancing Into Dreamland’s 5th year, and it has developed quite a following.  Ticket Sales have been brisk, only a few front row tables left. Wow!

Every year the dancers blow me away and this year is no exception.  We have some returning favorites and have added an aerial silk dance, yep, just like Cirque du Soleil.

If you have never been to Dancing Into Dreamland let me tell you how the evening goes:

  • During the first hour you find your table, grab a drink, some food, review the silent auction items and if you have time, shake a tail feather on the dance floor.
  • At 8:00 sharp the program begins. For one hour you see unbelievable dancers perform and compete.They are all ages, all genres, and all levels of expertise.
  • Around 9:00 the competition is over, the judges are sequestered for First Place decision making, the guests have 10 minutes to text in their favorite.
  • Awards are presented at 9:45.

So Save The Date November 7, Friday night, 7-10 pm.  Dancers, guests, and volunteers click here for details. Special thanks to all our Sponsors.

Our judges this year have been confirmed as well for Dancing into Dreamland 2014, they are the same great panel we had last year. Pictured above at last year’s event left to right are Christen Burke Pitts, Sericia Cole and David Miller.

Our AETN documentary is coming along swimmingly. These guys are so professional. There is so much story to tell; Dreamland’s events and music, Taborian Hall’s businesses, Knights and Daughters of Tabors mission, history of Ninth Street, AFB’s restoration in the 90’s, and now the Friends of Dreamland’s nonprofit efforts. I can’t imagine how they are going to get it all into a 1-2 hour documentary. I can’t wait to see the final product!

Be watching for a date and time this Spring, 2015. The event is open to the public and will include tours of Dreamland, AETN documentary premier, photo booth, and dedication of more brick pavers. So get involved and buy a brick today.

We now have our emcee’s for the event! Professor Clea Hupp and Alice 107.7′s Pool Boy will be our emcee’s for the night. We couldn’t have found a better team.

Buy a brick today and have it dedicated at our Friend Raising event in the Spring of 2015. We will have our documentary Premier and brick dedication all at the same time. Don’t miss it!

Sponsors of DID 2014 are:

Business Sponsorships:
Landers Fiat
Stella Boyle Smith Trust
Mainstream Technologies
Magan Holcomb Partners
Aristotle Internet
Daniel Electric
Arkansas Panorama

Special Thanks to individuals:
Richard Davis
Sara and Ed Krouse
Ann and Grady McCoy
Mrs. And Dr. Keller
Mr. Wayne Ball

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Soccer’s World Cup has been good for the flag business, our June sales were our best ever.  I know you are not supposed to wear the US flag, so don’t send me any scolding emails, but I have to say it is good to see young people, that are not from military families, show such gregarious patriotism.  We, at AFB, try to guide our youthful customers towards red, white, and blue scarves (for women or men) and hats (fun and caps) but we can only do so much.

Youth are naturally rebellious and this year they loved draping themselves in the American flag like a cape.  And I loved the patriotic fervor and unity the World Cup inspired.  We were all on the same side.  Not politically or philosophically divided, just patriotic citizens all cloaked under the same symbol, the American Flag, whether you wore it or displayed it. Go team USA!

Anybody that thought soccer was for sissies has changed their mind after this year’s games; broken noses, sprained hamstrings, concussions, and some serious displays of male testosterone.  Tim Howard, USA’s goalie, will never have to buy himself another drink in his life time.  Bald is back, and badass.

We are already looking forward to the Women’s World Cup in Canada next year, with it being a bit closer to home, you can be sure American’s will be well represented as fans, if our ladies (which I’m sure they will) qualify.  Plus we don’t even have to wait long to continue to satisfy our new soccer bug…the qualifying rounds begin in October of this year.

In fact, the U.S. will host the women’s CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Florida, California, Washington and some matches will be in Vancouver, Canada. The qualifying rounds are just as exciting as the cup matches!

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It’s almost the half-way mark of the year 2014 and it looks like it is going to be a banner year for AFB.  Flag sales are strong and I am relieved to say the struggles of the 2012’s website upgrade debacle are finally behind us.  I don’t know if I have ever had such a cohesive group of employees before.  They all work together really well.  No finger pointing around here, they all work steady, take ownership, and share the praise.

We still have some things on our technology wish list (doesn’t everyone) but nothing too major.  If you buy into all the propaganda about how to do business in the 21st century, you will go broke.  My old 2002 website had 80% SEO and I let someone talk me into upgrading.  DUH.  I would now kill for those kinds of numbers.  After 40 years in the business I can honestly say, “I have learned a few things.”  It is hard to believe the internet for retail is almost 20 years old.  I feel like a blacksmith over here.

In 1975 advertising was either the newspaper or the local news on only three channels.  Currently AFB advertises across many platforms.  We still advertise in the newspaper, on TV, and the yellow pages, but we have added snail mail, email, telemarketing, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, Linkedin, magazines,  Google Adwords, and tradeshows.

I am ready to move AFB to the next business model.  I have some ideas.  Stay posted.  It will be a Brave leap.

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Stepan Klimov @stepan_klimov Follow #Ukrainian people blocking the train with troops going to #euromaidan in #Kiev #digitalmaidan

I can’t remember the last time I saw so many flags in the news. It began peacefully at first, with the Sochi Olympics, but as soon as that was over, a burst of chaos and protests broke out, and the whole world began waving their flags.

Flags date back to before anyone can remember. For millennia, people have flown fabric symbols to represent their cause, patriotism, revolutions and even sports teams. People also use flags to gain recognition, for advertising purposes and sometimes just for the beauty of the flag itself. The list of uses for flags and banners is endless.

Next to the Christian cross, the U.S. flag is the most recognized symbol of all time. This is due, in part, to its simplistic design. Simplicity is one of many qualities that make a flag more effective. The old design adage, “less is more,” is definitely true of flags.

When designing a flag, think like a child with sheet of white copy paper and only three crayons. Do not exceed those three colors, and keep the colors solid. Gradation may look nice on a website, but the shading may not look as good on a flag.

You should never, ever put a seal or map on a flag. Small details like that cannot be recognized from afar, and you want the design to be recognizable from atop a flagpole. What’s more, such details may be expensive to reproduce, and you want your flag to be affordable for all supporters.

If you are interested in learning more about flag design, FlagandBanner.com has a glossary of common flag terms on its website.

The flags seen here are simple and easily recognized. The yellow and blue Ukrainian flag and the blue with stars European Union flag.

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I love visiting cemeteries. Surely I am not alone in this. I was in my twenties the first time I saw cemeteries through different eyes. It was a beautiful day in downtown Little Rock and I was meeting an old friend for lunch. We wanted to dine outside, and he suggested we grab a bag of fast food and meet at the old cemetery. It was a little slice of peace right in the middle of the busy city. The cemetery was like a well-groomed old park no one went to. Reading the tombstones was inspirational and made you reflect on your own life, creating good sentiments for every person.

This Memorial Day, consider a family outing to an old cemetery near you. There are all kinds of cemeteries – military, city, church, family, confederate, etc. You can even come upon one when you least expect it. I was shopping for plants at our local nursery, a large one on the edge of town, when I wandered to the back of the property and found a small creek with 100-year-old tombstones strewn about. It was an old family plot. The current owners had been respectful enough to leave it and had even added a picnic table where employees could eat lunch. Again, it was a slice of peace that felt soothing and reverent.

Each spring when I freshen up my flowers, I check on the little graveyard. One year, a new grave had just been added. It looked out of place because there had not been a new grave in more than 50 years. An old man was working the register, and when I checked out, I asked him about the grave. He said it belonged to his wife, who had died at the age of 81.

The next year when I made my annual spring visit, I checked on the cemetery and found another new grave. It was the old man, who had died and was laid to rest next to his wife. The graves inspired so many feelings. I felt special to be viewing them. I felt very small in our universe and very big at the same time, to be connected through so many cemeteries.

If you decide to take your family or friends to a cemetery this Memorial Day, be prepared for your soul to be sated. It is a powerful, positive experience. Depending on the type of graveyard you visit, you may want to bring along a snack, sunscreen, camera, pen and paper, flowers, or flags. If you get hooked and want to dig deeper, you can begin to research the art and symbolism on the monuments and mausoleums for an intellectual and spiritual experience.

Also, those who research genealogy may want to bring along paper and charcoal or crayons to take rubbings from tombstones of the people you’ve researched.

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Last week I got a call from my business neighbor, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, which I call our sister building because we are positioned like bookends on either end of Ninth Street, the street once home to Little Rock’s thriving black business district.

The caller asked if we would partner with the center for its upcoming MLK Youth Challenge, during which high school students celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by visiting the center for a day of service. The students are divided into groups of 10 and, with their group leaders, are assigned a working location in the community.

I was happy to be asked and oblige, and decided they could paint the floor of the Dreamland Ballroom.

When they arrived, I treated them to a tour and told them about the history of the building and the African American community in Little Rock. As a white woman, I am always aware that I am a bystander to this part of history. It would be inadequate for me to tell the horrific stories of the cruel, berserk behavior the black community was subjected to during the ballroom’s heyday, so I focus on the positive accomplishments of black businesses on Ninth Street. Still though, it is not my history and I tread lightly.

I was shocked to learn that these children knew nothing about Ninth Street, an old stomping ground for many of their grandparents. They knew nothing about the rise and fall of this area or the ramifications of desegregation on their culture’s infrastructure.

I suddenly felt validated. It does not matter what color my skin is, because  I have saved a part of history. In doing so, I am giving back to my community.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not my day. It belongs to the African American community, but that does not mean I cannot participate and learn. Everybody knows how King marched and spoke out for civil rights, but the old timer in this article, who lived the struggle, said “Dr. King ended the terror of living in the South.”

See our photos from the event on our Facebook page.

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2011/08/29/1011562/-Most-of-you-have-no-idea-what-Martin-Luther-King-actually-did

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