by Max Marbut
Downtown is the site of a lot more office work than fabrication but there is one door behind which you’ll find a unique small-scale manufacturing facility that turns the simplest raw materials into unique handmade products.
Tracie Hutchins describes herself and her staff at Madame T’s Productions as “paper artists.” They create cards, invitations and stationery and specialize in small quantities compared to the thousands of cards other companies produce. Some of their products are sold through exclusive agreements with retailers nationwide. Another part of the business involves very small quantities of cards, invitations or announcements specific to one person’s special life event like a birthday, wedding or bar or bat mitzvah. One thing that makes the business unique is that there is no minimum order required. Projects have ranged from a single card for a graduation to thousands of pieces for corporate clients.
Hutchins started the business nine years ago in her home then later moved into a small space in a retail store in Ponte Vedra Beach. In 2003, it had grown to the point she leased a studio and workshop on the second floor of the Elks Building at the corner of Adams and Laura streets. If you have walked on Adams Street west of The Carling, you probably noticed Madame T’s display window.
“If you can think of it we can do it. When we design something for you it’s something you just won’t see anywhere else,” said Hutchins.
Like other businesses, Madame T’s has not been immune to the vagaries of the economy. Hutchins said there have been “good months and some not so good months” and that has caused her to go back to the principles that got the business off the ground in the first place.
“We have revamped our products and added new holiday and wedding lines. Last year’s holiday album was our most expensive ever. This year’s is our least expensive and emphasizes value,” she said.
Hutchins recently attended the National Stationery Show in New York City and picked up some new clients to represent Madame T’s product line.
“Even though there were about a third fewer attendees this year than last year, the people who were there were serious about buying,” said Hutchins.
Maintaining relationships with clients has also been part of her 2009 business plan.
“I communicated with our 20 top clients. We’re all in this together and I believe if you keep your existing clientele happy they will reinvest in you.
“My father had his own business and he always said you have to stay positive. At the end of the day I know I have done everything I can to keep this business going,” Hutchins said then added, “I just renewed my lease here for two more years.”
To make an appointment to visit Madame T’s Productions call 359-0199.
Since it opened in June 1975, Independent Square (commonly referred to as the “Modis Building”) has been an icon of the Downtown skyline. At 37 stories and 535 feet tall it was the tallest building in Florida when it opened.
The building has:
• 1 million square feet of leaseable space
• 65 tenants and more than 2,000 employees
• 253 underground parking spaces
• Four escalators and 18 elevators
• A $1 million per year electric bill
And the number people always want to know:
• 7,556 windows
Covering events in the Realty and Building communities in Northeast Florida.
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