My Silk Maps builds on an idea that my wife and I had been kicking around for some years: to make and market maps on cloth for outdoor sports.
On being RIF'd for my day job (as a computer geek, not the actual title), I actually had the time to spend making it real.
In short, because it is a neat idea.
Our first project was a trail map for hiking trails associated with the SoPilar Campground in Cayo, Belize.
This required converting GPS data into a map of the trail network, and doing the basic graphics design work to make it a reality.
Then we started working on trail maps for ski areas - always our original target market.
Those of you familiar with Skiing in the North-East USA will catch the problem right away.
There wasn't a lot of snow in the 2015-2016 season, and the weather was generally too warm to make snow, so a new accessory for the skier might have had a better kick-off.
Still, we were able to find a couple of partners for proof-of-concept projects,
and acceptance is acnecdotally good even if the season ran out before we could gather statistical data.
We've built maps for the Saratoga National Historical Park, the Saratoga battlefield, and an Archeological Reserve in Central America.
Next, we mean to develope maps for the Adirondack hiking trails, containing as much useful information as possible,
and are looking to expand into maps for other regional parks and historical sites.
Why can we do this?
There are a number of big firms that make good silk screened products, after all.
Mostly, we can compete because the startup costs for each project are quite high.
The actual cartogrophy can be intensive even when the client has a good model to start from,
and then Silk Screening is an expensive way of producing a few silk maps,
even if it is a great way to produce a lot of very good durable ones.
So big firms aren't interested in what they see as a small risky specialty market.
We have a local Silk Screen Printing partner who produces great results including both the look and feel.
We are doing this because we love the product.
Yes, we are for-profit, at least we certainly hope so,
but unlike big corporations we don't have to have a 20% return on investment or be phased out.
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