This past May, the Tanner Dance Program of the University of
Utah performed our nationally best-selling children's book What Do You Do With an Idea? as a dance routine with an entirely
original score. What Do You Do With an
Idea? is the story of one brilliant idea and the child who helps bring it
into the world. Tanner Dance adapted the book for its biggest event of the year,
and we are so honored to have been a part of it.
Tanner Dance put on three inspiring performances in just one
day. More than 500 dancers used ballet and modern dance to show how ideas come
to life. Each dance had different choreography, and what made the performances
especially incredible was that every dancer had the freedom to improvise parts
of their routine and integrate their own ideas into the performance.
"Throughout this whole process, the children have been
delighted with discovering their own ideas, creating their own ideas and
dancing their own ideas," said Joni Wilson, program director of Tanner Dance. Built
into the program’s foundation is the dedication toward creating imaginative
humans—one dancer at a time. By offering classes to people of all ages and
abilities, Tanner Dance gives its students the skills to take their dance ideas
and grow them into beautiful, impactful works of art.
Kobi Yamada, the book’s author, was thrilled to attend the
event and witness the amazing production. Kobi signed books after each
performance, and even went backstage for a peek behind the scenes. "It was a
lifetime highlight to be invited into the circle of hundreds of dancers backstage,"
said Kobi. "It was humbling to see these young talents in costume so earnest
about their roles."
Nothing makes us happier than to see how our products are
inspiring other people. Tanner Dance's production of What Do You Do With an Idea? is a wonderful example of how anyone
can take an idea and turn it into something incredible. The performance has
resonated with us here at Compendium, and we thank Tanner Dance for such an inspiring
This season marks a wonderful first for Compendium—our first children’s book based on an award-winning film. The story is about a young woman with a dream to fly, and the challenges she faces in reaching her goal. Both the film and the book adaptation are inspired by the real-life person Miss E. Lilian Todd, the first woman in the world to design and build an airplane.
Miss Todd is relatively unknown in the world of aviation, which is
what drew the film’s director Kristina Yee to the story. While doing
research for another project on aviation, Kristina came across a
November 28, 1909 New York Times article noting Miss Todd’s
accomplishment. But after the successful flight of her first plane, she
disappeared into history.
“I wondered why I’d never heard of her, and the more I read, the more her story smacked of injustice. I thought it was amazing that she accomplished so much, and yet is so forgotten by the history books,” says Kristina.
The significance of her plane and its flight should not be understated.
Though the Wright Brothers had made history with Kitty Hawk in 1900,
very few others at the time were successful in getting a “flying
machine” off the ground—much less staying in the air for more than
“The mystery of what happened to her after her
plane flew also drew me to her,” says Kristina. “I wanted to believe
that, as we’ve portrayed in the story, her disappearance wasn’t a
tragedy, but an adventure.”
Miss Todd took a full year to create. The twelve-minute musical short
was worked on by a dedicated group of passionate students at the
National Film and Television School in the UK, and went on to win the
Student Academy Award in 2013 as well as the Royal Television Society
Award in 2014 and dozens of other awards.
The film was made using
stop-motion animation with handmade sets and puppets and incorporating
paper cut-outs, felt, and other custom-built props including several
miniature models. The book adaptation, Miss Todd and Her Wonderful
Flying Machine, was created using stills from the short film to bring
Miss Todd to life in a whole new way. Alongside Kristina, the book was
written by Frances Poletti who also wrote for the film.
We would like to say a special thank you to Kristina and Fran. We’re thrilled to have worked with such a talented team to create this unique children’s book. We look forward to encouraging young readers to pursue their dreams, no matter who may tell you no.
Watch the entire film at www.misstoddfilm.com!
We are excited to announce our 30th anniversary! Over the past three decades, much has changed—but the core of our mission to live inspired has stayed the same. We are proud of what we have achieved and eager to see what the future holds.
To honor the occasion, we’d thought it would be fun to share a little sneak peek with you—into our history, our people, and our hopes for the future. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better and we look forward to sharing the next 30 with you!
Compendium started in a 700-square-foot apartment, making small pop-open window cards. Our team relied on a simple dream: to inspire millions. Our window cards, originally made only for corporate clients, soon expanded their reach. Their magic was undeniable. “Can somebody, somewhere, anywhere, pick up a window card, and, even though it’s just a little piece of paper with a message in it, open it up and have that touch them in a way that is affirming and exciting for them?” asked Compendium founder Dan Zadra. “And, if so, can you replicate that by a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, and a million?” The power behind the cards surprised and delighted us—and led us to expand our focus to gifts and books for everyone and all of life's occasions.
WIDENING OUR REACH
From a small apartment to an industrial park to several places in between, Compendium kept growing. We made gift books and saw the power they held. We made desk accessories and saw the beauty they added to people’s lived. So we looked even further, making journals, children’s products, greeting cards—and many other formats.
Each step of the way, we held tight to our dream. And, like us, it grew. We knew we wanted more and we created the tagline “live inspired.” We wanted to not only reach millions of people, but to inspire their everyday—to live abundantly, richly, more fully. “I’d like Compendium to be a resource for other people, for inspiration,
and connection,” says Compendium CEO and President Kobi Yamada. “That’s
at the heart of it.”
Now, reaching our 30th anniversary, we’re excited to see what the future holds. Because we know that no matter where we go, what products we explore, or what dreams we discover, we will still keep to our mission—to make a positive difference in the world. “Ultimately," says Dan Zadra, "living an inspired life means giving back.”
"The only people who truly know your story are the ones that helped you write it."
With our newest I Love You Mom and I Love You Dad gift books, we aimed to create meaningful, keepsake titles that offer connection, personalization, and a hand-crafted feel—creating a gift that is not only beautiful, but meaningful as well.
Author M.H. Clark says she hopes these books offer a framework for capturing a story that’s as unique as the giver—with room for all different types of stories and all different types of families. Each book is filled with heartfelt statements on the special connection between a parent and child, as well as written prompts for the reader to fill in with their own memories, anecdotes, and reflections:
• These words make me think of you…
• I've always admired how gifted you are at…
• If I could give you anything in the word, it would be…
Answer each prompt however you like—with a sketch or illustration, a list, a big sentence or a whole paragraph. No matter how you fill it out, whether in one afternoon or over the course of many days, you’ll create a completely unique record of your relationship.
For the design, designer Heidi Rodriguez wanted to offer a classic, open look that appealed to wide range of aesthetics. She drew on inspiration from family photo albums, particularly with the framing of each prompt. In addition, Heidi added warmth and a personal feel by incorporating hand-drawn geometric textures as well as hand-traced type.
The end result is a set of titles that will inspire and spark special moments between family members—a beautiful keepsake that, as M.H. says, “…will create a beautiful picture of your relationship.”
The Life by the Numbers series
began with the bold, best-selling 5
book—and asked the question “Where will you be five years from today?” It was a
new kind of book—filled with quotes, stories, and prompts meant to act as a
guide to help you find what truly inspires you, to identify your biggest
dreams, and to chart a course to make them come true.
The 5 book, and the others that
followed, have become internationally known and award-winning. With tens of
thousands of copies printed, they’ve touched the lives of thousands of
people—with each book offering a new way to discover and realize what really
matters to you.
1: How Many People Does it Take to Make a Difference?
2: How Will You Create Something Beautiful Together?
5: Where Will You be Five Years from Today?
7: How Many Days of the Week Can be Extraordinary?
10: What's on Your Top 10 List?
Now we’re taking it a step
further. To complement the best-selling book series—and due to popular demand—we’re
introducing Life by the Numbers journals. Each journal features even more
inspiring statements, new questions for you to consider, and plenty of space to
write down every life-altering idea.
So which dream are you going to make come true?
When we first thought of doing a line of humor cards and notebooks, we realized that we needed go to the comedy experts. That’s why we’re grateful to have award-winning David Crowe as our friend and guide into the stand-up comedy world.
David considers the Frank & Funny cards and notebooks another great venue for the touring comics. He says, “What I like about this line is that it doesn’t use funny pictures or graphics. They really let the imagination of the reader loose... and that’s what stand-ups do for a living.”
We’re lucky to have more than 50 stand-up comedians from all across the country—with new comics added every season.
And when we asked them about why they like writing for the line, here’s what they had to say:
"Having my own greeting card means that something weird and silly I wrote has become intimately involved in the lives of thousands of strangers, which makes me feel grateful, but also a little awkward and anxious.”
“I’ve been thinking about it and what I like about writing for greeting cards is that it allows me to voice jokes that I like, but might never work as live performance bits. When you read them, it changes the tone. Just the mere turning of the page to see what's inside gives the reader the pause the joke needs to work.”
"It's great having a greeting card. Now I can tell people I'm a published author."
“Words can't describe how cool it is to have my own greeting card. Seriously. I have no words. I'm saving them for the next greeting card.”
Thank you, Patti! We can't wait to see more from you and all of the comedians in the seasons ahead.
"There is a world of endless possibilities waiting behind every YES."
-Kobi Yamada, YES book-
Our newest gift book YES is a little different for us. It’s tough, it’s gritty, it’s bold. Why? We wanted to create a title that told readers—in no uncertain terms—that their potential is in their own hands. “Yes means going for it, Yes means a positive attitude, Yes means embracing life, even when it is a bit scary, and finding ways to live with passion,” says author Kobi Yamada.
Drawing on inspiration from an old Nike ad about not taking no for an answer, Kobi created a unique dialogue within the book—including both negative statements that critics will say as well as positive questions to push back on those harsh statements. As Kobi explains, “The main challenge was to create a back and forth dialogue of pessimism and optimism where the reader can see and feel the impact that attitude and outlook has on everything we experience in our lives.”
To match this bold tone, designer Jessica Phoenix took a rich collage design style to the page. “I found a collage by Clark Goolsby that gave me the inspiration for how to bring color into the book. I created my own ‘digital collage’ and used it as a backdrop for many of the spreads. Creating that collage was a challenge I enjoyed—I'd never made anything like that before.” Jessica also used markers, tracing paper, and black tempera paint. “The style is bold, hand-drawn type with pops of bright, colorful geometric patterns.” She says that despite the complexity of the project, she truly enjoyed simply drawing. “I created a lot of the elements with tempera paint and markers so it was fun to literally get my hands dirty making this book.”
The key element for Jessica in designing the book was the audience. “I had to keep running my design ideas through that filter: could this be given to a teenage boy? What about a mother of three? I would say this book has a fairly urban feel, which, in the end, may not appeal to everyone, but I do think it will strike a chord with many. Everyone can relate to that voice of negativity in our mind that tells us ‘no,’ which is why it's so needed to have a book that tells us we can ignore that voice and say ‘yes,’ instead.”
The result is an intense yet uplifting graphic style that mirrors the negativity and optimism that can be found in the words on each page. It’s our hope that after reading YES, customers will have a more positive filter to look at situations, or at themselves—a filter that’s more supportive, positive, and encouraging. “The best takeaway from this book is that the readers can recognize negativity and cynicism easily, whether from others or their own insecurities and fears, and know that it is not truth.”
I believe that one of the most important things to learn in life is that you can make a difference in your community, no matter where you live. I have seen so many good deeds – people helped, lives improved – because someone cared. ~Rosalynn Carter
Ashley Mengoni saw a need in her community and decided she wanted to help. Ashley is the manager of The Essential Baking Company in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, nestled five minutes north of downtown and three blocks from our Compendium office.
Inspired by the caffe sospeso (“suspended coffee” in Italian) concept of a “pending” coffee paid for by one customer as an advance donation toward another needy customer, Ashley wanted to implement something similar at the café. She recruited her fiancé Jimmy, and together they went to the hardware store and bought some wooden rods. Jimmy sawed the rods into small rounds, creating 75 tokens that the couple then glazed and painted with hearts and coffee cups. The concept was simple: a charitable customer could purchase a $2.75 token and it would remain in a glass jar near the cash register for anyone in need to inconspicuously use as payment for a cup of coffee.
The 75 tokens sold out at the café in three days. The suspended coffee concept was so warmly received by the community that Ashley and her team decided to expand it to include bread. One token bought a cup of coffee and two tokens purchased a suspended loaf of freshly baked bread.
Ashley and Jimmy have made hundreds more tokens in recent months. Impressed by the success of the tokens, The Essential Baking Company expanded the program to their other three cafés in the Seattle area. Ashley also regularly delivers tokens to Mary’s Place and Homeless in Seattle, neighborhood charities that work directly with the homeless.
It never ceases to amaze us the power that one individual has to affect the lives of others. Even if it’s a simple cup of hot coffee and slice of fresh bread, the kindness in the gesture is priceless.
Image copyright Rex Hohlbein, Homeless in Seattle.
“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”
There’s a special thrill that comes when you open your mailbox and, nestled amid the bills and ads, you find a letter addressed to you. The pretty postage stamp; the black time stamp marking the date and location of your sender’s locale—be it far-flung or close to home; the handwriting you instantly recognize as being that of a loved one or friend; the weight of the letter in your palm.
In an effort to promote literacy, creativity, and documenting history, the United States Postal Service has designated April as “National Card and Letter Writing Month.” At Compendium, we’re lucky to spend our days designing and writing greeting cards, books, and gifts that inspire and commemorate life’s important events—and this theme hits close to home for us in the very best way.
Two companies, Hello!Lucky and Egg Press, are teaming up with a campaign to inspire folks to write 30 letters to 30 different people every day in April. We’re so excited about this idea that many of our employees are taking on the challenge, and we’d like to extend the challenge to you, too!
Looking for ways to have a little fun and make the 30 days fly by successfully? Here are 10 writing ideas to spark your creativity:
1. Thank a teacher—past or present—for the value that education and their teaching has brought to your life (or the life of your child).
2. Write a letter to a senator or member of Congress.
3. Send a letter to a child or teenager who might not have familiarity with traditional mail. Include a self-addressed return envelope and encourage them to write back.
4. Surprise someone who lives with you by sending them a card or letter via post.
5. Recruit friends and mail a stack of cards to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Ask staff to give them to lonely seniors.
6. Honor the memory of someone who has passed away by sending a note of remembrance to their widow, widower, or child letting them know that person is always in your thoughts.
7. Leave a postcard of thanks for your postal carrier.
8. Photo cards are not just for the holidays. Print cards at a local drugstore with a current snapshot from your life. Surprise family members and friends with this personal memento!
9. If you’re unsure about what to say, practice your prettiest handwriting with a poem or quote and send it to someone special.
10. Join a pen pal site online and make a new friend in a country you’ve always been curious about. It could be a wonderful opportunity to practice a foreign language or learn about a new culture.
Will you participate in the 30-day challenge? We’d like to hear about it! Tell us your letter-writing ideas, successes, and stories in the comments below or on Facebook!