Eric & Christopher started as a collaboration between two artists. Eric Fausnacht and Christopher Kline met at an art show in 2011, where Kline helped Fausnacht create a screen-printed pillow.
Kline, a 25-year veteran screen printer, had started teaching screenprinting techniques to artists as a way to weather the economic downturn. Fausnacht, an internationally known artist with a background in retail merchandising, costume design and set design, was also looking for a new venture.
Fausnacht started taking the pair’s printed pillows to local craft fairs, where they kept selling out. “We quickly realized our shared interest in creating adorable, fun screen prints with images based on our photography of animals,” Fausnacht recalls, “and we developed a business model that would allow us to share our excursions, design and screen-printing experience with the world.”
The pair originally worked from a basement studio and a kitchen table, but now manufacture their goods in a 7,000 square-foot warehouse in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
The Eric & Christopher team ships pillows, tote bags, and wall art to more than 700 retail shops globally. The company also works with large companies like L.L. Bean and the White House Historical Association to develop custom products. “Our mission as artists and business owners is to provide quality, American-made products that simply make people smile.”
“Not only are we able to come to work every day and do our passion, but we’re [also] able to turn a profit and put our product into market,” says Kline.
Fausnacht admits that the pair is still learning as their business grows: "One major important lesson that was reiterated by SCORE is defining our roles as owners, and being able to realize that we can’t personally address every issue that comes up and every phone call. We have to train other people to take over some of the day-to-day responsibilities so that we can continue to grow the business, develop new products and continue to be creative because that’s how we got our business started. We’re learning to do this more and more, and it’s definitely an evolving process."
Kline was 19 when he started his first printing business, which was also when he first encountered SCORE. While his and Fausnacht’s experience set the foundation for their business, the men still wanted guidance from seasoned experts. “It was a no-brainer to turn to SCORE,” Fausnacht recalls.
The men wanted to make sure their vision and expectations were in line with what their mentors had experienced as business owners themselves. "It’s been an ongoing mentor / mentee relationship where we touch base, talk through how to manage growth, product development and introduction, marketing, looking ahead, hiring the right people and looking at when to hire more employees," Fausnacht says.
“They’ve worked hard and they’ve produced a super product,” says mentor Tim Fielder. “It’s a delight to see them grow, to see them solve all these problems that come up on a daily basis, and they’re still smiling and they’re still got lots of thoughts and ambitions for the future.”
“Without the thought-provoking questions and guidance from SCORE counselors John Small, Tim Fielder and Ken Haldeman, we would not be where we are today,” Fausnacht says.