“Firsts” of a Personalized Ornaments Business
The story of Calliope Designs includes many “firsts.” We’ll be telling you more about how this wonderful little business started, grew, and thrived over the years, but here’s a short article I wrote several years ago for publication in a web directory about – what else? Ornaments!
The First Steps of a Personalized Ornament Business
The year, 1971. The times…. well, were a changing! Dorr Eddy an advertising agency art
director, and Stephanie Eddy an advertising agency account executive, left San Francisco and
moved to a small town in Sonoma County California. Still working free lance in advertising,
they spent an autumn making “dough” Christmas ornaments as gifts for family and friends.
Little did they know that a few short years later they would be hiring dozens of employees to
help fill orders for their unique ornaments from gift shops and department stores.
The Eddy say that to their knowledge, the ornaments company Calliope Designs which they
began in the seventies, was the first in the world to manufacture dough ornaments and to
personalize the ornaments with names, corporate logos, and places!
Orders for ornaments from stores like Neiman Marcus and Macy’s
New York launched Eddy’s cottage ornament business into the mainstream of gift shows,
advertising specialty distributors, and the ornaments souvenir industry. Stephanie and Dorr’s
first taste of the coming popularity of their cute little-handcrafted dough ornaments was at the
Great Dickens Faire in San Francisco in 1972. Dressed as Victorian merchants, selling bread
dough ornaments from an old-fashioned cart, Dorr and Stephanie sold every ornament they had
made in the summer in the first day of the 14-day crafts fair. The next six weeks were a blur of
remaking the ornaments each week to sell on the coming weekend.
It was at one of these Dickens Faire weekends that the buyers from Macy’s New York happened
across their ornaments display and saw the crowds surrounding their booth. The following
spring came a huge order for all Macy’s New York and Macy’s New Jersey stores. Taking
advantage of the popularity of the dough ornaments, the Eddy’s attended their first gift show –
the Beckman Show of Handmade and Handcrafted items in Los Angeles, California. They met
buyers from many gift shops and had to hire several helpers to keep up with writing orders for
their dough ornaments. Neiman Marcus proposed an ornament with a cowboy theme to be sold
in the famous Neiman Marcus catalog! Stephanie and Dorr suggested personalization of the
ornaments. Another first!
The first souvenir ornaments account for Calliope Designs was Yellowstone National Park. A
a small order of ornaments delivered at the beginning of their tourist season turned into a large
reorder, and brought the attention of many state and national parks around the United States.
There were new ornaments with wildlife designs, all namedropped with the individual park’s
When the owners of Calliope Designs attended the Advertising Specialty show in Dallas Texas,
they met distributors who would show their clever ornaments to corporations. One of the first
corporations ordering their personalized bread dough ornaments is still ordering ornaments
today. Southwest Airlines has ordered a unique ornament each year to donate to the Ronald
MacDonald Houses in the southeastern United States. Today that corporate ornaments order has
grown to 800 pieces!
Some of the most popular items at Calliope Designs are the styles relating
to “first” occasions in a customer’s life. Over the years, they have perfected their lines of Baby’s
First Christmas ornaments, New Home Ornaments, First Christmas for Adopted Children as well
as First Anniversary Ornaments. Whatever the “First” is, Stephanie & Dorr Eddy at Calliope
Designs know that they have an ornament to suit the occasion. And they love having their
customers create their own special greetings for the ornaments – some of their best phrases have
come directly from the creativity of their customers.
Article and images used with permission from CalliopeDesigns.com
Tags: bread dough ornaments, Christmas decorations, Christmas gifts, Christmas ornaments,
Christmas traditions, clay ornaments, personalized ornaments, polymer clay ornaments