Magnetic Locker Wallpaper $1 Million In Sales
January 24, 2012 by staff
Magnetic Locker Wallpaper $1 Million In Sales, Sarah Buckel, a 16-year-old girl from Du Bois, takes a look for the first time at her magnetic locker wallpaper being sold at Staples. Like the other girls at Central Catholic Middle School in Du Bois, Sarah Buckel spent considerable energy each year decorating her school locker.
Like the others, she dreaded the possibility of being caught at the end of the school year with the gummy residue from decorative contact paper still clinging to the locker walls.
But unlike the other girls in Du Bois, Sarah’s dad runs a company that manufactures magnets. And unlike any other 16-year-old girl, Sarah came up with the idea for magnetic locker wallpaper — she now has a patent and $1 million in sales to prove it.
“I’m really surprised that it would go that far,” she said. “It still hasn’t really sunk in.”
For those unfamiliar with the role of the properly adorned locker in many modern middle schools, it is not something to be underestimated.
The addition of decorative paper, a mirror and magazine cutouts of teen heartthrobs can transform an ordinary locker into, as Sarah puts it, “your room at school. It’s your own little place. It’s almost like a competition, who has the best locker.”
In 2006, at the end of Sarah’s last year in middle school, she watched as a friend of hers had to stay after school on the last day, forced to scrape away the sticky residue of the contact paper from her locker before she could leave for the year.
Several months later, Sarah’s father, Paul Buckel, became the chief executive officer of a company called MagnaCard, which started out manufacturing business card magnets, but has broadened to other products, such as magnetic tape and dry-erase magnetic memo disks.
In the eyes of Mr. Buckel, and some of major chain stores that sold MagnaCard’s magnets, the product line was getting a little stale.
“We were a neat little company with boring products,” he said. “If we didn’t do something soon, we were going to lose these guys.”
To decorate her new locker at Du Bois High School — and avoid the sticky contact paper — Sarah asked her father if he could make some magnetic wallpaper for her.
“As soon as she told me, I thought that it was going to be great,” said Mr. Buckel. “I just knew it was going to be something.”
The engineers that he asked to design the product with weren’t so sure. At first, they couldn’t figure out how to manufacture the wallpaper so that they could price it under $29.99 per roll.
Within several months, however, they got the price per roll down to $9.99.
Sarah, who is interested in a career in interior design and hopes to go to college at an art school, helped create wallpaper patterns that she thought would appeal to middle school girls. She suggested pink camouflage, which had been popular on her cheerleading team, and vetoed some ideas from professionals, such as mini skulls.
She also kept her dad on track in terms of the preferences of pre-teen and teenage girls. Once, hastily making a sample locker display to show buyers, he cut out a magazine picture of Nicolas Cage for the locker.
Nicolas Cage, 44, as a locker-worthy teen heartthrob? Sarah is still giggling over the concept. On a sample locker wall in her house, she points to a picture of the far more age-appropriate Jonas Brothers.
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