For the Fitzpatricks, it's all about the division of labor - Ryan does the pictures, Tilney does words and George, well, George kind of does the naming rights.
Hence, Man vs. George Design, an online greeting card and art print company Ryan and Tilney Fitzpatrick started in 2009.
"George was our cat, and we were trying to think of a name that would be kind of unusual but also playful," Tilney explained. "We thought everyone struggles against something in life, and our struggles mainly centered around George the cat."
"It means we've had a pretty easy life," Ryan joked.
And an interesting one, particularly for George, a lady tabby cat (named after George Harrison), who retired to Michigan after Tilney developed allergies.
The anecdote was an instant ice-breaker for the Wauwatosa couple when they went to New York later for the National Stationary Show, where they debuted their greeting card collection. Ryan's designs competed with six other finalists for best new product.
"It really is a nice feeling," Ryan said.
It's a life they scarcely dared to imagine just a few years ago, when Ryan decided he didn't feel like going to the store to buy his niece a birthday card.
"I said, 'Why don't I design one?' " Ryan recalled.
Back then, Tilney was an IT consultant with an English degree on ice, and Ryan was working as a legislative aide in Madison, dreaming of being an artist.
Tilney still has her full-time job; she does web design and social networking for MVG in all her free time. But Ryan is living the entrepreneurial dream, working full-time-plus on orders from as far away as Singapore and coming up with new ideas for what he describes as whimsical, light and colorful designs influenced by mid-century design and printed locally on recycled paper.
As for the words, Ryan said, "We love puns, and we like to keep things witty and fresh. We try to avoid the stereotypes of a toolbelt for a dad and those kinds of things."
One other thing you won't find on MVG cards: glitter.
"We have a strict no-glitter policy," Tilney said. "It gets everywhere."
If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (262) 446-6643.
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Man vs. George Design
PHONE: (414) 218-2558
OWNERS: Ryan and Tilney Fitzpatrick
TYPE OF BUSINESS: greeting card and art prints
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Pet project in Wauwatosa pays off for owners and animals alike
- Finding new life for old buildings
- Wauwatosa business coach helps small companies
- Therapist suggests making massage priority
- Family's sausage business a hit at farmers markets
- Tosa attorneys come from entrepreneurial families
- Soaps & Scents sniffs out a new opportunity
- Even technophobs can have a better tech experience, owner says
- Platinum Salon relies on intimate, family atmosphere
- Tosa Wine & Spirits staff enjoys its new home
- Move to massage therapy good for the soul, Parlour owner says
- Designing durable landscapes a way of life for Tosa man
- Mobility store says it puts client needs before profit
- Birth center offers health services for whole family
- Standing the test of time
- Duo helps families choose assisted-living care right for them
- Filament shines light on home furnishing needs
- Optometrist's daughter sells children's glasses in Wauwatosa
- Tasting room appeals to wine afficianados, corporate planners
- Hot dog! Business venture helps teen learn value of a dollar