Ben & Jerry’s. Domino’s Pizza. Nike. Subway. Kinko’s. They are all household names, major corporations, giants in American pop culture. And each has a legendary rags to riches corporate history. Ben and Jerry opened their first ice cream shop in a renovated gas station in Burlington, Vermont on a shoe-string budget. The founders of Domino’s Pizza made a $75 down payment on a local pizzeria, and then borrowed $500 dollars to pay for the store. Bowerman, the co-founder of Nike, invented the famous ‘waffle” sole while experimenting at home with a liquid rubber compound and his wife’s waffle iron. And Subway, the fast food chain with more U.S. stores than McDonald’s, was started by a young high school graduate who went from making $1.25 per hour at a local hardware store to opening a small sandwich shop with a $1000 loan from a friend.
One of my favorite stories, though, is that of Kinko’s founder, Paul Orfalea (nicknamed Kinko because of his curly red hair). He was a poor college student when he noticed that a copy machine in the library was very popular with his fellow students. Paul borrowed a few thousand dollars from a local bank and rented a 100-square foot space in the back of a taco stand near his school campus. This later proved advantageous when Paul cut a hole in the connecting wall, allowing him to order lunch without leaving the store! The tiny Kinko’s featured one single copier, but as the store grew, so did the number of machines. In fact, at one point, Kinko’s was so crowded with customers and machines, Paul rolled a photocopier out onto the sidewalk for self-serve copies. The rest, as they say, is history.
And that is why we are writing you today. Just like the dreamers mentioned above, Pascal and I are starting our business on a wing and a prayer, hoping that we will make history. And history making? Well, that rarely happens alone. Both Napoleon and Robert E. Lee had troops to support them. The Festival is only three weeks away, and we still have thousands of bonbons to hand mix, hand roll, and hand dip. How will we ever do it? By doing something that isn’t always easy. We’re asking for HELP! We are organizing a work bee, like a quilting bee or a barn-raising. Just think of the BonBon Bee as a giant party where you get to volunteer some of your time in exchange for fellowship and the novelty of being a part of corporate history folklore. Talk about a story with humble beginnings! Kinko’s and Domino’s watch out, because here comes South ‘n France.