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Last Update: Saturday September 18, 2021

Key Idea: Listen to Customers

Founder Judi Jacobsen said her paintings sold so quickly she couldn't keep up with production which led her to the idea of printing her art on cards.     More...

Key Question:


Listen to the people who are willing to pay your for your work or your ideas.  Judi was painting for fun when an interior decorator bought all of her work.  More than one of the customers told Judi that her art would look great on a greeting card.

Search for more on the topic of startup and start a business and click on the answer for more answers.

Think about it

Have people other than friends and family ever asked you to do something for them for a fee?

Clip from: Madison Park Greeting

Seattle, Washington: In this episode of the show you  meet Judi Jacobsen and her family at Madison Park Greetings. She started this business in 1977 with just $200.  Judi bought a vacant building, moved in, and by bringing the building back to life, the entire neighborhood improved.

This company produces greeting cards and sells them to consumers through over 5,000 gift shops. Also, they create private collections for retailers including Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, and, they distribute the graphic products of other artists including Larkspur and Sara Schneidman.

We first met Judi in 1995 in Washington DC when she was being recognized as the Small Business Person of the Year from the State of Washington.  

Good to her word, Judi put a succession plan in place.  In 1995, son Brian and long-time employee, Glen Biely, took over the leadership of the business. The good news is that the young men are growing a much bigger company and are having plenty of fun. 

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Madison Park Greetings

Judi Jacobsen, Founder

1407 Eleventh Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122

Visit our web site:

Office: 2063245711

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1976

Listen to Customers

HATTIE: Welcome to SMALL BUSINESS School. You probably already know our philosophy is, `Learn today, earn tomorrow.' So if you already have a business, stay right here, we're going to help you grow it. If you'd like to start a business, you can learn something, too, about getting off on the right foot.

Judi Jacobsen, the woman you're getting ready to meet, was way ahead of the curve. She started her business--she won't tell us how many years ago. She now has three children involved in Madison Park Greeting, and you can find her products in specialty shops all over the country.

Judi will lead our Master Class today. What's a Master Class? Well, it's a class taught by a professional, not a teacher. Not that teachers aren't professional. What I mean is, it's taught by a person who is actually doing it. In music, it would be a professional performer. Here, it's a professional small-business owner. We won't have any gurus, no academics, no journalists on this program. For you to learn, we think the best way is for you to study the artist in action. So join Judi at Madison Park Greeting Cards in Seattle for Master Class.

(Voiceover) Madison Park Greeting produces cards like, `Congratulations on taking the plunge,' `On your day, I wish you joy, I wish you happiness, but most of all, I wish you love.' It has 8,000 customers, 25 employees, and will do $3 million in sales this year, all because Judi Jacobsen wanted to learn how to paint.

JUDI JACOBSEN (Owner, Madison Park Greeting Cards): I had decided when I was 30 years old that I wanted to learn how to paint and play tennis. The painting turned into the card business.

It was a series of miracles, kind of, that started me painting, that I started selling my paintings right away, because I was taking care of some children in the neighborhood whose mother was an interior designer, and I didn't plan to sell them, but she was decorating model homes, and my paintings looked good in the laundry room. So--that's the truth.

HATTIE: So, really, you had some extraordinary luck...

JUDI: I did. It was timing.

HATTIE: have exposure.

JUDI: Right. Right away, and I probably never, ever would have thought of it, except people started saying to me, you know, `Oh, your paintings would make good greeting cards.'

HATTIE: Wow. Other people gave you the idea.

JUDI: Mm-hmm.

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