Karen Olks, owner & designer of MagnaMemos

Karen Olks, owner & designer of MagnaMemos

The Story

I’ve always been a maker. That’s what happens when a technically-minded kid is raised by an artist. Though I didn’t inherit my mother’s drawing and painting skills, she instilled in me a deep appreciation for the utility of creativity — it’s how we learn, solve problems, express ourselves, and better and beautify our world. The more I explored, the more I found that my own sense of creativity thrived best in the overlap of form and function. That paved the way for my love of cooking, a creative outlet that I eventually transformed into a successful career in Food Science.

Then, one day in 2008, my nephew asked me to make something to help him keep track of the teams in the major league baseball post-season. A niche request, to be sure, but necessity is the mother of invention, right? I created a baseball-themed magnetic board, complete with a set of miniature helmet magnets to represent the teams. Each helmet could be moved freely through the ranks as the season progressed. He was thrilled! The board was exactly what he needed, and he uses it to this day. 

It was so satisfying to create something that not only helped solve a practical problem, but was also pleasant to look at and fun to use — it was the perfect blend of left- and right-brained thinking. I realized that, with a few tweaks, this board concept could be tremendously useful to other people, too. So I set about adapting the design into a magnetic and dry-erase memo board format, styling each iteration into gifts to suit the unique tastes of the people in my life. All were met with rave reviews; people were as happy to receive these gifts as I was to make them. “Ya know," they said, "you should sell these.”

MagnaMemos was born.

I never dreamed that the board I made my nephew would one day lead to me starting my own business, but I am so grateful that it did. These days, my time is split between my full-time career in Food Science and the adventure of running my small business. MagnaMemos now has a dedicated studio space where every board is crafted, packaged, and shipped by hand with the same care and attention I invested in those first boards for my friends and family. I love what I do, and it’s an honor to share the journey with you.

Thank you for being a part of the MagnaMemos story!

— Karen


Creativity is intelligence having fun.
— Albert Einstein