Terrie Richards, left, and
Kale Bassler show off creations from their own
CHRIS CHAFFEE, ADVANCED IMAGE
FOR COSTCO MEMBER Kale Bassler and her
friend and business partner, Terrie Richards,
Christmas doesn’t come just once a year. To
keep their Coeur d’Alene, Idaho–based business, Northwest Santa Creations (
westsantacreations.com), thriving, they maintain
the holiday spirit year-round, crafting Santa,
elves and other figures in many different ways,
but all starting with a lump of clay.
Bassler and Richards met in 1980 while
both worked for a local supermarket chain,
and they soon discovered a shared passion for
crafts—and Christmas. “After doing some
work with sock monkeys, wooden snowmen
and little houses, and realizing we were both
into Christmas decorating, we felt Christmas
was a sure thing,” says Bassler.
In 2000 they made the leap from hobby to
self-employment. In the first year they made
five Santas, which all sold at a charity event,
including one for $1,000. “We knew we were
on the right track,” says Bassler.
They’re producing 200 to 300 figures a
year and selling them at trade shows. The line
has expanded to include elves, mountain men
and, just introduced this year, Halloween
witches. All of the figures are unique, from the
lifelike faces to the intricate costumes.
Bassler and Richard’s work has been featured at the American Folk Art Museum in
New York City and in Better Homes and
Gardens. Says Bassler, “We use Costco for all
our shipping materials, credit-card processing and more.”
As of now, Bassler and Richards are
working six days a week (with an assistant
and a seamstress, and plans to hire additional
employees), but there’s no complaining when
every day is Christmas.—Steve Fisher
COSTCO MEMBER Deena Cornish, a vegetarian whose food allergies had forced
her to pretty much cook everything for
herself, decided that if she was going to
go to all that trouble for herself, her dogs,
Serch and Zappa, deserved the same
level of attention. “So I started making
their food and snacks myself,” says
Cornish, of Seattle. “They loved them.
And my friends tried the snacks with
their dogs. And they loved them.” One
thing led to another, and Uneek dog
www.uneekdogs.com) was born.
The three flavors of 100 percent
organic high-protein treats—Beagle Bites,
Nut Rolls and Pizza Crust—each come in a
whimsical 100 percent recycled doghouse-shaped package, and the company donates
25 cents from each box sold to rescue
operations for needy animals.
COURTESY OF UNEEK
Cornish, whose products were chosen as a featured item in this year’s
Emmy Award gift bags, says she takes
great pleasure in knowing she’s contributing to the well-being of her beloved animals.
“This all came together very naturally,” she says.
—T. Foster Jones
Uneek treats were a
featured item in
this year’s Emmy
Award gift bags.
HERE’S A NEW TWIST on the “family film”: one made by a family.
Costco members Bill and Tiffany Laufer have done just that. The
father-and-daughter filmmakers—Bill, 61, wrote and directed; Tiffany,
33, was the cinematographer—released their inaugural effort,
Christmas at Maxwell’s (rated PG), expected in selected theaters this
month. It’s an inspirational, romantic holiday drama about the power
of love, forgiveness and trust.
Bill Laufer wrote the screenplay while he was in college, inspired by
events in his youth. Although he dreamed of making movies, he got a degree
in economics and went on to start and run a couple of manufacturing com-
panies. Along the way, his love of film and photography inspired his daughter.
After Tiffany moved to Los Angeles to attend the American Film
Institute and Bill sold his companies, he figured it was time to turn his
dream to reality—and Laufer Film (
www.lauferfilm.com) was born. The
Laufers raised money from family and friends to make the $4 million film
and used local actors, including Bill, who played a priest.
Look for Costco to make a cameo appearance in the flick. Says Bill,
“We bought a ton of supplies for the movie from Costco.”—SF
We want to hear from you
Bill and Tiffany
Laufer and their
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