A Chat With Dyan Eagles, founder and president, DharmaCrafts
© Profile of Success, Catalog Success magazine, August 2005
Catalog Success: When was the catalog established?
Dyan Eagles: 1979, but it didn’t turn into a catalog until 1981. It started out as a little 5 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch black and white book. I started it with $10. After a meditation retreat, I came back and decided to start a business selling meditation supplies. I started out by making drawstring pants for my friends and hanging up fliers in Harvard Square. I was living in a meditation center and studying Zen with a Korean Zen Master; it just grew out of my interest in that.
CS: Where are your headquarters?
Eagles: We’re located in a barn in Lexington, Mass.
CS: What is your primary merchandise now?
Eagles: Buddist meditation supplies and Asian furnishings. The Buddhist supplies include meditation cushions that we make ourselves in our shop. We’re famous for those. That was our first real product after the pants. That accounts for about 25 to 27 percent of our total buisness.
CS: How many employees do you have?
Eagles: Eight employees, including myself. We might have to hire some additional people at Christmas, but the eight is year-round. We outsource the [catalog] design; we’ve used the same company for 10 years. We outsource the photography. We do all of our own fulfillment here — almost all of it. All the small things we fulfill from our own warehouse. And the big things, the furniture, big garden statues and granite objects, those things are fulfilled by our vendors.
CS: Tell me more about how the catalog got started.
Eagles: It turned from a little flier in Harvard Square to a small brochure. My Zen master published a book, and I learned how to make meditation pillows. So including the pants, I now had three products. I made a little brochure. At that time we didn’t rent mailing lists, but I advertised in Yoga Journal, New Age Magazine and East West Journal. That was how we began to build our mailing list, our housefile, by sending the brochure to people who requested it from our print ads. As I would get new products, the book just got bigger and bigger.