By John Dodge
CHICAGO (CBS) — Eric Strand went to college to become a journalist.
Lucky for him, and for college alumni everywhere, that didn’t work out.
Instead, he launched a company, School Street Posters, that designs and sells beautiful maps of college campuses. The maps are marketed to nostalgic alumni and current undergraduates alike.
Strand is a self-taught web designer who took an interest in screen printing about five years ago.
He launched the company in the fall, and sales have jumped from about 150 posters a month to about 2,000 last month.
Social media played a big part, after influential users at the University of Michigan and the Big Ten Network found out.
About 30 schools are available through the company’s online store. Big Ten schools are big sellers, he said.
The company just added designs for the universities of Nebraska and Minnesota.
“We consult with students and alumni on social media as we are designing the maps to ensure we are representing each town appropriately,” Strand said.
“We typically go through several iterations of any given design before we feel good that it’s right. And for a few designs, we have made revisions after going to production, based on feedback from customers and fans. It ends up being a very collaborative process.”
Strand designed his first poster in 2012: Illinois State University, his alma mater.
Each handmade 13 inch x 19 inch poster retails for $22, and orders typically ship in a day or two, Strand said.
Expansion plans are in the works, with negotiations into possible wholesale and licensing deals with other companies.