Michael D. Clark reports:
As a junior at Mason High School, Kristin Wood invented a novel photo gift featuring the Ohio State University marching band that has since gifted her a fully paid college career.
By offering photo posters for sale of the band’s famous “Script Ohio” marching formation – but altered to create the illusion of it spelling out a name of a fan or business during a halftime performance – Wood has paid for more than $60,000 of her college costs.
The Mason High School graduate and now 22-year-old Ohio State University senior is celebrating the fifth anniversary of her lucrative business, which was hatched inside the Warren County school’s spirit shop.
Wood is scheduled to earn her undergraduate degree this spring along with an increasingly rare distinction – no student loan debt – thanks to some 20,000 orders to her Personalized Script Ohio company.
“I had no idea when I originally came up with the idea as a (high school) junior … I didn’t think it would become something that would grow and I would be recognized throughout the state or that it would put me through college,” Wood said from her home near the Columbus campus.
In 2008 she was trying to come up with a product idea to sell in the student-run Mason High School spirit store when the idea came to her.
A passionate fan of the popular marching band, Wood is looking to pass on her business legacy – and free-market opportunities – first to her sister, Nicole, 16, and then to brother, Joey, 12.
“I’m going to teach her the ropes so she can earn it to finance her own college education and then my brother, so he can do the same,” she says.
It’s been hard work – 15 to 20 hours per week – Wood says, but ripe with out-of-classroom learning that has helped in her studies that include a minor in business. Back in 2008, she and her father, Joe Wood, spent months – and many hours driving to and from Columbus – negotiating a licensing agreement with the university. She pays 12 percent in royalties in exchange for using the band’s image. She declined to reveal her company’s profits.
“It definitely taught me responsibility and I had to learn to manage my time, school and work,” she says.
Wood’s former high school teacher, Debbie Gentene, saw it coming.
“I am not at all surprised at Kristin’s success. As a high school student, she was eager to learn business skills and apply them right away. She looked for business opportunities and was willing to take a risk,” says Gentene, who teaches entrepreneurship, small business management and honors financial accounting.
Joe Wood, who helps manage the company, says “parents dream of the day their child graduates from college and has the opportunity to start a successful career. I hope Kristin’s success serves as an inspiration to other teenagers and their families of how being a young entrepreneur can enable dreams of funding a college education to come true.’’
Wood plans to use her degree in psychology and minor in business to work in human resources, market research or sales.
“Graduating from college with real-world business experience and no school debt is truly a win-win scenario for me,” she says. “Like many of my customers, I’m also a die-hard Buckeye fan, and I’ve really enjoyed being able to live my Scarlet and Gray passion both as a student at OSU and through my business.”