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Release Date: June 16, 2011
Release No: 11-09
Contact: Kate Herrington
Mollie Brault-Binaghi, President of Copy World in Barre and Vice-President of Eternity Web in South Burlington, has been named Vermont Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Nominated by Dave Rubel, Business Advisor, VT Small Business Development Center, Mollie was chosen for the award based on her company's success as measured by increased sales and employees.
Working from all platforms and media, Copy World offers a full line of graphic design and printing services including wide-format architectural and engineering drawings, full-color banners and posters, booklets, newsletters, business cards and promotional materials, greeting cards, calendars, color & black-and-white reproductions and finishing services.
Through the leadership of Mollie Brault-Binaghi since the time of purchase in 2009, Copy World revenues have grown by fifty-six percent. Mollie attributes the company's dramatic success to an increase in digital options and services. She said Copy World is valued in the area for its customer service and excellent quality for the price. "It's always shocked me how many people will go to the big box stores thinking they're going to get the best deals there, and 9 times out of 10 we're less expensive and faster," Mollie said.
While her achievements are uniquely her own, Mollie's family and friends have provided significant support. With input from her boyfriend and her family, she spent considerable time working out the details of a business plan. "When you're going to be investing not only money but your time, you need to invest an equal amount of energy laying it out on paper before you jump in," Mollie said. After completing the plan, she asked SBA resource partner and VtSBDC Business Advisor Dave Rubel to review it. "It was really helpful because Dave was able to show me where I was still missing some important details," Mollie noted. With a small loan from her sister plus a personal loan from her stepfather, Mollie and her mother, Linda Aschnewitz, co-purchased Copy World in 2009 from her maternal aunt, Diane Fontana, who started the business in 1994 as an independent company.
In her alternate role as vice president of Eternity Web, a web design and development business launched in 2000 by her boyfriend, Michael Lannen, Mollie is both a partial owner and an employee. As a team, Mollie said she and Michael exchange inspiration and encouragement. Mollie encouraged Michael to launch a full-fledged business based on his web design work, and Michael persuaded Mollie to buy her aunt's business.
Although she's only twenty-five, Mollie's interests combined with her education have given her a giant leg up in both businesses. When she was twelve, she taught herself web design and programming. Later at Spaulding High School, she was editor-in-chief of The Sentinel where she said she especially enjoyed layout. At St. Michael's College, she majored in journalism and minored in art, focusing on computer and graphic design.
At Copy World, Mollie does everything from customer service to graphic design and when appropriate, makes client referrals to Eternity Web. The two businesses mesh well because their clients often have complementary needs for both print materials and web-related assistance. Michael Lannen is in charge of sales and project management at Eternity Web, while Mollie handles the administrative work, including finances and human resources, as well as marketing through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Community networking is a natural passion for Mollie. She is currently the director for the annual Barre Heritage Festival & Homecoming Days and works with many local nonprofits. "I've been working a lot with the Barre Partnership, making some great connections," Mollie said. "I'm really excited about being in downtown Barre because I think we have huge growth potential here. I grew up here. We have a slogan, 'It's everybody's hometown,' but it's really my hometown, and it's nice to do business within our tight community."
Mollie considers hometown competition part of the community and said she enjoys working with other local printers. "I have a good relationship with one of our mid-sized commercial printers. They do a lot of off-set work, so some jobs go back and forth between us, and we work really well together. I'm not fiercely competitive with other local printers because I feel we can share the business. We can all work together."
Asked to describe what success means to her, Mollie replied, "To me, business success is a mixture of the feelings you get from helping customers and also from helping your employees. When you help your customers solve a problem they've been struggling with for hours or weeks, it can feel like magic to them, and it makes their day. And because employees are the people who help me help our customers, it's really gratifying if I can provide an environment where everybody loves their job."
Copy World employs three full-time workers, one intern from Vermont Works for Women, and one part-time worker, Mollie's cousin Chantel Avery. Eternity Web employs three staff members in addition to Mike and Mollie. Among the perks Mollie offers are a game lounge at Eternity Web and a barter system with local restaurants. "I try to take time each week to let them know how much I appreciate them," Mollie said of her employees.
Mollie's advice for other young entrepreneurs is simple. "Plan!" she said. "And you have to be passionate about it. Otherwise it's not worth doing. Owning your own business is not easy and it's not going to make you rich quick. You're going to be in it for the long haul so it's got to be something you love."
Mollie Brault-Binaghi will be honored by the U.S. Small Business Administration on June 16th at a ceremony presented by Vermont Business Magazine. The event will take place at the Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, Shelburne, Vermont. # # #