San Diego–based Custom Cool TV Covers
( www.customcooltvcovers.com) was
launched in 2008 by Costco members
Tammy Green and her husband, Al Maroni,
after struggling to keep their outdoor TV
protected from the elements (dust, birds,
moisture, more birds). “There were other
cover companies out there, but none
making outdoor TV covers that actually
protected and looked great too,” says
Green.—T. Foster Jones
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out on a
WHEN KATIE KIYO was laid off from her
advertising job at the height of Michigan’s
worst economic crisis, she saw the
opportunity to put a successful 25-year
advertising career behind her and embrace
a new way of life—one of entrepreneurship.
The Bloom;eld Hills, Michigan, Costco
member went on to develop an online
sympathy/remembrance gift company
( www.bighugllc.com) offering unique
personalized gifts to honor special people
with whom one shared life’s journey.
“I named the company Big Hug
because, to me, those two little words
conveyed an expression of caring and
compassion,” says Kiyo.
The Big Hug brand was eventually
extended to include other celebrations,
with many of its products purchased by
schools, businesses and employers to
honor an individual, commemorate an
event or celebrate a milestone.
“Two of our most cherished gifts
are our personalized wind chimes and
Tree Huggers®,” says Kiyo. Tree Huggers
are custom-engraved stainless steel tree
dedication plaques, mounted with tension
springs so they can expand as the trees
grow. They can accommodate up to four
lines of personalized text plus an icon.
seemed to enjoy the uniqueness of them.Th at led to ‘toad homes,’ ‘fairy houses’ and ;nally ‘gnome homes’. “Our gnome homes are made from all- natural materials,” he continues. “They are decorated with driftwood from the western Washington coast, moss and pine cones from our woods and eastern Washington, and ried ;owers from our garden. ” Gnome homes (available in a variety of sizes of custom, one-of-a-kind designs, depending on the size of your particular gnome) are, appropriately, a whimsical focal point for garden landscaping. “We’d rather reuse items found in nature and recycle them,” says Nancy. “It gives the homes a lot more character. It makes them ore whimsical.”—TFJ NOT ALL ELVES live in trees, baking cookies, and not all gnomes are ;lled with wander- lust, having their pictures taken all over the world. So, where’s a non-roaming gnome to ;nd a home? Costco members and avid gardeners Val and Nancy Jackson have the answer. Their company, Whimsical Woods ( www.whimsical woods.net), has created a nifty niche business handcrafting all-natural birdhouses, bird feeders and gnome homes, made from downed trees and other natural materials gathered from their 14 acres on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. “Years ago, I made log bird houses for several fund-raisers at our old church near Santa Cruz, California,” says Val, an electronics engineer by day, who is a self-described life- long “wood shop kind of guy.” “Everyone Better gnomes and gardens