By Nyesha Stone
Walking through the doors of Great Impressions Graphics & Printing is like being met with a breath of fresh air. The cool colors suggest comfort and blend well with the soft jazz playing in the background, creating an overall relaxed mood. Even if you’re in a bad mood when you walk through those doors, the atmosphere will change that.
Carolyn Walker, owner and CEO of Great Impressions, said she made it her priority to not be the typical black-owned business. None of the clichés such as being unprofessional or having an unkempt business.
“I’m constantly building,” said Walker. “I never stop trying or redefining myself or my systems.”
Walker was in the printing business for 18 years before venturing off on her own. She started in her basement for five years until she felt she built up enough clientele to open a storefront. Fast forward, and now Walker will be celebrating 20 years of successful business on June 22.
The celebration will be held at Great Impressions, 5330 W. Burleigh St., from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Food will be provided by award-winning chef Lisa McKay, which will be accompanied by live music from The Kevin Hayden Band ft. Robin Reese.
According to Walker, it took her about 20 years to be comfortable being a salesperson. And, with that skill, she began to develop a system targeted to sales.
“I think people saw in me what I didn’t see in myself,” she said. “I knew then that I was on the right track.”
Walker has expanded her business and now has double the office space. And, for the first time ever, Walker has four in-staff workers and one transitional worker.
One thing Walker had been working hard to accomplish was being the first minority, female union shop in Milwaukee. She was denied multiple times, but this year she finally did it. And, now with this new title, she’s able to attract more political clientele.
Within the last 17 years, Walker moved into the funeral business by offering the option to make and print obituaries. It has become her top seller. She’s even in the process of relaunching her current website: www.funeralprogramsonline.com
“I’ve built a real, solid foundation with that [obituaries],” said Walker.
Every day Walker comes to work with a smile on her face and a heart full of happiness.
“I’m grateful,” she said. “I use that word to define my life.”