CELEBRATION SPOTLIGHT – Jesse Freitas
As part of National Sticker Day on January 13th, Celebration Spotlight visited with Jesse Freitas, Senior Director of Growth and Product at Sticker Giant. We talk about National Sticker Day, stickers, and a World Record sticker ball.
Getting the Ball Rolling
Michele: Can you tell me about yourself and Sticker Giant?
Jesse: Yeah, I’ve been with Sticker Giant about seven years now. I joined Sticker Giant in February 2015, and I’ve been here since we came up with National Sticker Day. I was the founder and submitted that project that you got to work on. As part of that, we also set a Guinness World Record for the largest sticker ball named Saul that we built as a company. So [there are] a lot of fun stories about that that we can dive into. I head up marketing and development projects at Sticker Giant, and today I’m the senior director of growth and product all these years later. We’ve been a fast-growth business selling stickers online through stickergiant.com to anyone who wants them. It’s custom printing, so [it’s] a pretty fun thing we do, providing stickers all over the world.
Michele: Tell me about Saul. How did you come up with the idea for Saul?
Jesse: National Sticker Day ties so closely to Saul’s creation. To give the backdrop, when I took on my role at Sticker Giant, I was doing a lot of the content creation and the content calendars, so National Days were big and still are a big part of our strategy in looking at what days are happening and what stickers are being printed that are related to it. Like National Doughnut Day is a fun one. You can always find a doughnut sticker. And I remember looking and wondering one day, “When is National Sticker Day?” That’s when I realized there wasn’t a National Sticker Day, which kind of blew me away.
World Record Saul the (Giant) Sticker Ball
So when we approached creating a National Day from a business standpoint and investing time and money into all of this, we, and our founder John Fisher, at the time he and I were discussing how do we make this worth our while? It can’t just be a social post, so we came up with this idea of a Guinness World Record, and when I was looking into that, no one had set this record for the largest ball of stickers.
We were about a 35 person company at the time, so I came to one of our weekly company huddles that we do on Tuesday and asked everyone, “Hey. We’re thinking about registering this National Day, and we’d like to set a Guinness World Record for the largest ball of stickers. What do you all think about that?” And there was a lot of excitement. Not going to lie—there were a couple of naysayers, too. Some people just want to work.
But we got the ball rolling after that meeting, quite literally. Todd on our manufacturing floor started creating the ball with our manufacturing director at the time. He called it Saul. It was around the time of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul was coming out. So he is kind of loosely pop culture associated, too. The name rang, too. Saul the Sticker Ball. He was born November 8, 2015, and we celebrated the first National Sticker Day on January 13, 2016. So between those time periods was our goal for getting Saul the Sticker Ball big enough to set that Guinness World Record. And we did. On the first-ever National Sticker Day, we did a public weigh-in at Wibby Brewery in Longmont, Colorado, where we’re based. That’s how Saul was born.
Team-Building and Publicity
Michele: And we interviewed you that day, too, if I remember correctly. And I got to see some video of Saul in the flesh, so to speak. It was a fun project you guys executed there, and he continues to grow, too. Doesn’t he?
Jesse: He does. Yeah, Saul’s journey is pretty incredible. I call it one of the best team-building projects ever, referencing the employees and the buy-in. It took everyone.
Stickers weigh nothing. You can’t even get them to register on a scale if it’s just a single sticker. So, it took a lot of teamwork to make that happen and was very challenging. He only put on eight pounds in the first two weeks, maybe 10 pounds. So I realized we had to do more than we were doing. So, the team got really creative to solve that problem. He was 231 pounds when we set the record.
We had a lot of fun press out of that, too. All the way to getting a mention on the Late Night with Seth Meyers, and then ABC did a feature on us. We ended up getting a featured record in the Guinness World Record Book in late 2017 into 2018. So Saul has really become a mascot for our business. Andrew, who I work with, got Saul on Roadside America, so we’ve listed Saul for a Roadside Attraction. We’ve done tours of Sticker Giant, including Saul, over the years. And today, we are doing what we call Sticker Friends, which is really Saul and friends. So Saul the Sticker Ball and these other characters, our business and our brand…it kind of showcases what we offer as a business.
Michele: And Saul is located in Colorado on sight, right at the Sticker Giant location, correct?
Jesse: Yeah. He’s located right in our building. We take him to events sometimes. We did do a wacky road trip in 2018 or 2019. So, we took him to California for an event, too. So, we hit the road with him a few times.
Celebrate Every Day Storytelling
Michele: Saul on tour, it sounds like. So besides a Giant Sticker Ball named Saul, how else does Sticker Giant celebrate National Sticker Day?
Jesse: It’s something we have to ask ourselves every year. When you print stickers every day of the year… “Every sticker has a story” is our tagline, and we take that pretty seriously in all the content we do. The impact we have on the world is helping entrepreneurs and business people, and creative folks share their stories through stickers. So a lot of it comes back to that storytelling.
Two years ago, we did the Top Ten Stickers of All Time. Which was a little bigger than just us, right? That was about the history. National Sticker Day is really rooted in the history. It’s in honor of the birthday of R. Stanton Avery, who is the original inventor of the peel-off label adhesive. So the history was a big part of the day when we founded it.
“‘Every sticker has a story,’ is our tagline and we take that pretty seriously…” Jesse Freitas – Sticker Giant
Doing the Top Ten Stickers of All Time was fun. Talk about political stickers and the “I Like Ike” sticker. When you start digging into some of this stuff, it’s pretty wild. What really has influenced culture with stickers? Because today you still have [that influence] whether it’s skateboarding or just seeing a sticker collection on a brewery wall…stickers are literally everywhere.
There are lots of unique ways to celebrate. Last year we did a Saul and Friends activity page, coloring books. Acknowledging the moment of being in a pandemic and everyone is virtual. Especially this time last year, a lot of people were stuck at home with children and not able to go to school, so we thought of something that would give back to the community, and that would let people do coloring books, and that kind of thing was fun. We’ve always done different things. We did “Stick It To Cancer” the second year, where we did a charity fundraising with one of our hospitals here in Denver—always looking for creative ways to showcase stickers and celebrate them.
Art and Entreprenures
Michele: When I review National Sticker Day, I think about how stickers have a purpose. They’re an art form, yes, but they’re also useful, purposeful; they send a message. Every sticker has a story. Are there some stories you can tell about some sticker evolution at Sticker Giant?
Jesse: Yeah. Stickers are promotional. They’re also for causes. Some of the most fun stickers are the pop culture ones because you can parody safely with design and art. You know, Star Wars stickers, The Office. I can’t tell you how many stickers we see where people are just having fun.
Or maybe it ties to something culturally. I’ve seen a lot of employee culture stickers. I’ll share my wife’s company Team Snap. They’ve always done an annual summit and print up different themes every year for that coming together of their employees to have that sticker for that moment. So every year as an employee you can collect those stickers and put them on your laptop. It’s commemorative, a milestone of a journey of part of your culture. We see a lot of things like that.
The ones that are the most telling (it’s hard for me to single out any specific business because there are so many) from breweries to CBD oils to lotions. I think back to 2020 a lot because the stories coming out are so important around health and safety and wearing masks and hand sanitizer labels that we were doing— that entrepreneurial story and the need to make a product and maybe label it and promote it. Those are the ones that get me excited to wake up every day promoting what we do. Because that’s making someone’s livelihood, that’s the start of something that might go on for a hundred years, but we don’t know. We just get that little piece of it on a sticker or a label.
The Business of Stickers
Michele: People come to you for stickers. What’s the process, and how do they go about designing them?
Jesse: It’s different for everyone; some people already have a logo and just want a logo sticker. And that’s one of the most powerful stickers you can make. It’s your brand, and that’s getting your brand out there. So people know we are a printer. We don’t do design work per se. We get artwork print-ready. We’ll touch it up and make sure it gets cut in the fun customer shape that you need for your sticker.
We do a lot of content creation and showcasing sticker types like sticker sheets, for example. That’s one of the more powerful ways to make a sticker when it has many cuts on a sheet. A lot of people don’t actually think about that, but those are some of the most fun ones—especially National Days. You can put National Day text on there and do all sorts of designs and fun things.
Michele: National Day Calendar has a sticker in its product line as well. It says, “Today is National ________Day,” and you just write in the day. People love those. We have ambassadors who will wear them for their podcasts or their lives or stories they’re telling. How do you suggest people celebrate National Sticker Day?
Jesse: I hope people out there have your stickers already. I’d encourage you to use them to promote your business. Drop them in orders. Whatever your business does, stickers are such an easy, relatively inexpensive way to promote your business. People are so passionate about so many things, and we all get on social and want to say something. A really powerful way to do that is with stickers. I encourage people to share their favorite stickers. Tag #NationalStickerDay and tag National Day Calendar. And talk about your story behind that sticker and what you’re trying to do. It’s a great way to amplify what you’re trying to share with the world.
Stickers, Stickers, and More Stickers
Michele: You mentioned Star Wars earlier, and National Star Wars Day is on May 4th. Do you get a lot of requests for Star Wars stickers?
Jesse: Oh yeah. Star Wars, Star Trek. There’s a whole debate there for people. I actually have some on my computer right now. This whole collective—it’s called the Falcon with the Millennium Falcon and Red Squadron and Tauntaun Hoth and Baby Yoda or Grogu when he came out on Mandalorian. My goodness. The number of stickers that were parodies of that was pretty incredible.
Michele: If you had to pick a sticker design for National Sticker Day 2022, what would it be?
Jesse: The one we did choose is a little plane with our sticker characters. Saul is actually strapped in the back of an old-time plane holding the banner flying out the back that says, “National Sicker Day, January 13, 2022” on it. It’s called Fireball 1 because we have a fireball logo. A moose character is the pilot and Saul in the back with goggles. That is our sticker this month going out in orders for National Sticker Day 2022.
Sticker Giant and Sticker Making History
Michele: How long has Sticker Giant been around?
Jesse: Believe it or not, we’ve been around 21 years. We have quite the origin story. Our founder, John Fisher, started the business in 2000. He founded it right when there was an election happening, and we didn’t know who the president was. John had this idea for a sticker: “He’s not my president.” Now, it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you’re on. It spoke to the moment when we had three weeks of no president because they were doing the recount. John sold 30 thousand of those stickers online.
Now, this wasn’t “Sticker Giant,” but that’s when he had the idea of “Hey, we can sell stickers online.” It was the dot-com boom, lots of businesses popping up, and no one was selling stickers online. So sticker Giant was created as a retail store online. Just like Amazon started as a retail store for books, we sold all sorts of pop culture stickers, sports teams; you name it. And that is what Sticker Giant was for the first seven years of existence.
“Whatever you want to call it, we print sticky things that go on products or whatever you want for promotion.” Jesse Freitas – Sticker Giant
Then in 2007, people were calling and asking, “Could you print my logo or my sticker design?” The business started to transform. Around 2011, we started buying machines and setting ourselves up as a manufacturer. From 2011 to now has been our evolution into custom printing. That’s all we are today. The retail side of the business was sunsetted in 2012. Now we make custom stickers and product labels. People debate, sticker or label. They’re pretty similar. One’s for indoor; one’s for outdoor. People call them decals. Kids on Instagram call them slaps sometimes. Whatever you want to call it, we print sticky things that go on products or whatever you want for promotion.
“Technology is enabling the ease of creation…” Jesse Freitas – Sticker Giant
Michele: How has sticker making evolved?
Jesse: One of the ways that sticker giant innovated is that we use laser cutting technology to cut out stickers. Traditionally it’s metal dies that cut out things. For example, if you wanted a tree-shaped sticker, you’d have to wait for a few days for that tree metal die to get created, and then you could create the stickers. But lasers took that whole step out of the equation. We’ve utilized laser technology to make our stickers and our labels. That technology specifically keeps getting better. We’ve adapted with it, and it’s getting better, and we’re buying better machines to do it quicker.
Really, the focus is on doing it quickly. We offer a 1-2 day turnaround. Technology is enabling the ease of creation and artwork also. I mentioned artwork and designers—there are tools and systems we’re working hard on and some that we have and our competitors too that are making it easier for anyone to make a sticker. That’s something I’m most proud of at Sticker Giant is that we’ve made it accessible for everyone to get stickers and labels. In the past, you had to know how to get something manufactured and created. You had to know the art and all these hoops to jump through. I think that’s the biggest change that’s happening and continuing to happen—just making it easier for people to get stickers quickly.
Michele: When you were a kid, did you ever think you’d be working for a sticker company?
Jesse: No way. When this opportunity came up, I was like, “You’re telling me I get to advertise stickers? That sounds really rough. My inner child has been happy for seven years.
Michele: Did you have a sticker collection growing up?
Jesse: Yeah. It comes down to that accessibility. I don’t remember them being as around, but definitely sticker sheets, and in school, you got stickers on your papers. Star stickers were on all your papers, especially in younger years. One point a couple of years ago, I printed up gold star stickers. I was like, “Let’s get some gold star stickers around here to say, ‘Hey, that was awesome!’”
Michele: We have a classroom on the website, too, and I always think about the students getting stickers on National Sticker Day. I’m looking forward to National Sticker Day 2022.
Jesse: Thank you for having me, and thank you for promoting National Days. They’re all fun. It is a celebration, and we need more of that.
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