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Greetings from Twinsburg



Published: Thu, August 5, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.



By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

HOWLAND -- Kathy Cumberworth and her twin sister, Pam Baker, are accustomed to seeing passers-by do a double take when they're out together.

Lorada Bezilla and Linda Howard have had the identical experience.

Cumberworth and Baker, Bezilla and Howard are identical twins who have maintained their mirror-image looks through the years.

Now the longtime friends are also business partners, determined to cash in on the twin mystique with a line of greeting cards they've designed featuring photographs of identical twins.

They'll launch their product this weekend at the annual Twins Days festival in Twinsburg, Ohio. Billed as the world's largest annual gathering of twins, the event runs Friday through Sunday and has been attracting thousands of twins to the Cleveland suburb since it was founded in 1976.

New business

Cumberworth, Baker, Bezilla and Howard have been attending the event together for the past five years, but this time they'll have a sales booth to showcase their card collection.

They've printed 40,000 cards in 40 styles, all featuring photographs of twins, under their TwinTTwo Greetings LLC company name.

The entrepreneurs said they received hundreds of photographs from twins, triplets and other multiples in the Mahoning and Shenango valleys and beyond when the word of their project got out.

"It was just by word of mouth, we never advertised, and we were getting photos in the mail and by e-mail almost every day," Howard said, showing off a stack of cards featuring recent and historical twin shots.

Most of the card styles in their start-up line are designed to appeal to anyone, not just to twins, but they're confident they'll find an enthusiastic customer group at the Twins Day event.

Work backgrounds

The partners brought a variety of work experiences to their new business venture.

Bezilla, a nurse, lives in Howland and works for a Warren doctor. Her sister, Howard, of Warren, is a sales secretary for Gasser Chair in Youngstown. They celebrated their 50th birthdays in April.

Cumberworth is corporate sales manager for Seven Seventeen Credit Union in Warren, and her sister, Baker, is a school counselor for the Girard City Schools. Both Howland residents, they are 46.

The partners took some direction from Bill Oliver at the Small Business Development Center at Youngstown State University when they started the company last November, establishing a detailed business plan and a partnership contract.

After the product debut this weekend, their marketing plan is to start selling the cards on their company Web site, www.twinttwo.com, and to line up sales representatives to sell their card line.

Also high on their to-do list: Land an appearance on the Oprah show.

"We are very serious about that. It's on our business plan," Cumberworth said. "It would be such a boost to our business."

Eventually they'll start attending greeting card industry events to expand their market.

"Right now, this is fun, and it's our little baby," Bezilla said.

"And we hope it grows into a big baby," Howard piped in with a grin.

vinarsky@vindy.com




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