BEND — From "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" notebooks to "Nightmare on Elm Street"-themed glue, Redmond native Don Rich makes school supplies that help put the "cool back into school" and let students express themselves.
"If our company had a recipe, it would be one part education, with one part monstrous aliens and rock 'n' roll," he said.
"Our school supplies make fun of education in a positive way. We use monsters, aliens and pop culture as a way to celebrate education by making fun of it, but not hurting it. We kind of pick at the scabs of education."
Rich, 48, said he's always had a passion for education. Both his parents were teachers. Redmond High School's stadium is named for his father, a former athletic director and social studies teacher. For the younger Don Rich, school was one of the best times of his life.
To reach students and help schools raise money, he created Skullastic, which offers "create-your-own" notebooks, as well as supplies and gear featuring skeletons, other fun creatures, and popular-culture characters and references.
He started the company in Los Angeles on Halloween 2008. The one-man operation bringing in about $5,000 annually has grown to a team of designers, both adults and children, that earned $50,000 in revenue last year.
While Rich, a full-time advertising art director, said he plans to stay in L.A., he's moving the company's headquarters to Powell Butte. All the Skullastic products will be made and shipped from Central Oregon, he said.
"There is a plan to grow this company and have it stay in Central Oregon, no matter what size it becomes," he said.
Seeing the state of the economy and the need for job creation in Central Oregon, he said, he wanted to bring Skullastic back to his roots.
"I made the decision immediately that I didn't want to outsource my company," he said. "And thought, why not create jobs in the community where I was raised? Since it's all about education, why not bring the company to the place where I was educated?"