JACKSON, NJ---Dina Shekhter took her passion for art and turned it into a multi-million dollar business by taking graphic art designs, images and photos and placing them on a variety of novelty gift items.
It all started in 2001, when Shekhter and her husband Ilya launched 3dRose LLC out of the family garage in Howell. The couple started the business on a part time basis, while keeping their day jobs; Dina a bookkeeper and Ilya a car salesman. “I always had a passion and love for art,” said Shekhter. “The initial idea for the business was to preserve roses from weddings and special occasions and then incorporate them into art pieces. That’s where the name for the company originated.”
As a way to expand the business and offer additional products to their customers, Dina came up with the idea of putting designs on light switch plates. By the reactions they received from craft shows and by their sales on EBay, they knew they were on to something good.
Realizing that this was more than a two person job, Dina brought her brother Meyer Broytman into the business and credits him for developing all the software that allowed the company to delve into ecommerce and grow into the thriving business it is today. Meyer was instrumental in building the technical foundation of the company and he continues to build and maintain it.
“Initially, we did everything manually when it came to putting images on products,” said Shekhter. “It was very labor-intensive, which made it difficult to keep up with demand. Then we discovered the heat press and began to transfer images onto products in that manner; it just made it easier to produce products in large volume.”
After improving the production process, 3dRose began offering more products to their customers. It was shortly after that time that Amazon approached the company, offering them the opportunity to sell 3dRose products through Amazon.
By 2006, they outgrew their garage and moved to a 1,500 sq. ft. facility. By 2009 they outgrew that facility and moved to 3,000 sq. ft. facility. Up until that point, 3dRose had been leasing space. By 2012, the company was growing by leaps and bounds and needed more space.
Realizing it was now time to purchase their own facility, they enlisted the help of family member Alexander Shekhter, a commercial realtor who was able to find the ideal space for the company’s new headquarters. The new Jackson facility would solve their immediate needs, but also give them room for future expansion. Alex was also very familiar with the U.S. Small Business Administration finance programs and introduced them to Larry Kneip, of Crown Bank, a commercial lender that specializes in SBA loan programs. Through SBA’s guaranteed loan program, the company was able to receive a $525,000 SBA loan from Crown Bank. The SBA loan enabled 3dRose to purchase a five acre lot with two structures on it. A 2800 sq. ft. facility serves as the company’s office space, while a 6,000 sq. ft. facility houses the production area where images and designs make their way onto 3dRose products. The purchase of the property also gives this family run business plenty of land for future expansion.
“SBA lending programs give small business owners like Dina and Ilya Shekhter the opportunity to take their business to the next level,” said SBA New Jersey District Director Al Titone. “It’s amazing to see what an infusion of capital can do for a small business. It spurs growth and jobs creation like it has at 3dRose, LLC.”
Today, 3dRose employs 30 people and has the capability of putting images, designs and photos on 2 million products. “We have clocks, key chains, aprons, porcelain plates, baseball caps; the list is endless,” said Shekhter. “We work with over 100 artists, who receive royalties for any product ordered which carries their image, photo, or design.”
“Our nine year relationship with Amazon has been tremendous boost for 3dRose’s growth,” said Shekhter. “We are currently enjoying a 35 percent growth.”
With the success of 3dRose, they were able to create two other divisions within the 3dRose umbrella: Display My Art, an art based fundraising company geared towards elementary school children, is run by their daughter/niece Pola Ariel. “The concept is very basic,” said Shekhter. “Students create their own artwork in school as part of an art lesson and we turn that artwork into priceless keepsakes to treasure for years.” Each student receives a free custom magnet and brochure featuring their artwork on all of the products, allowing their loved ones to see what the final product will look like with their child’s artwork on them. Display My Art currently works with over 200 schools each season, giving them the opportunity to conduct their fundraiser in the spring or fall.
Metal Mural, the first company to pioneer the technology to reproduce high quality images on metal in a modular design, perfect for reproducing art, portraits, wedding photos and more on a durable, scratch resistant metal. The process involves tile formats of large photos and artwork on 12”, 9", 6" and many other size metal squares or rectangles that are re-assembled for easy portable wall mounting and other display applications. Metal Mural printing allows customers to display their images on the metal media using small to very large formats while preserving true color and the resolution of the image. The size of tiles is limited only by the size and resolution of the photo itself.
“You don’t build a successful company without having wonderful people around you,” said Shekhter. “Without them, there is no way we could have achieved the success we enjoy today.”
“We are set to hire additional people,” she added. “We need IT, sales, social media and warehouse workers. Within the next two years we will be adding another building. We’re in a great position to start planning our next stage of growth and our SBA loan has made that possible.”