Mini Materials Update: 2021 Was Our Biggest Year Ever

Published: March 31st, 2022
Jared Waters
Founder, Mini Materials
Mini Materials
from Portland, OR
started March 2015
market size
avg revenue (monthly)
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
210 days
growth channels
Word of mouth
business model
best tools
Etsy, Instagram, Facebook
time investment
Side project
pros & cons
42 Pros & Cons
18 Tips
Discover what tools Jared recommends to grow your business!
Discover what books Jared recommends to grow your business!

Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

Hello again! We are Mat Hofma and Erik Polumbo, co-owners of Mini Materials. We are the world’s largest producer of realistically-scaled, miniature building supplies!

Our target market ranges from hobbyists like dollhouse makers, model train customers, finger-borders, and diorama builders to educators in STEM/STEAM and even promotional swag sellers all around the world.

Our company has been in business for seven years and we are now selling over 125 active SKUs with the majority of them made completely by us here in the USA. We do most of our work out of Virginia Beach, VA, and have a staff of five.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

Last year was another record year for us in growth and total revenue. We grew an additional 12% YoY in gross sales.

2020 was all about the pandemic and folks were stuck at home bored out of their minds, which really accelerated our sales.

2021, however, was growth produced by our capabilities to design and produce successful new products. We increased our SKU count by 32 items, 25 of those are made by us in our shop.

We produced and sold over 250,000 individual cement products last year, by hand, in America.

Be creative, be strategic, be different. I read a lot of start-up stories and those 3 criteria are usually pretty evident.

Here are a few of the new products we’ve created:

Miniature Signs:


1:6 Scale 5 Gallon Bucket:


New Printed Minis:


We hired a local curator to create a brand video for us:

Mini Materials Brand Video - YouTube

With all the operating system changes, we had to modify our marketing strategy and added a SMS marketing campaign using Attentive Mobile. We added the service in September of last year, and it has generated about 50x return on our marketing spend. Folks like to stay in touch and we only send meaningful campaign messages when we are having a sale or launching a new product to avoid being too spammy.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

Apple and Facebook/Meta have made a mess of things in the Ad spend arena. I value privacy and can appreciate what the new iOS has helped to eliminate.

But from a small business standpoint, it was extremely detrimental to our success with any return on ad spend. We relied heavily on targeted Ad placement and that’s not nearly as easy to navigate these days. So we’ve had to rethink our marketing strategy and where we put our Ad dollars.

The other takeaway from last year is just finding appreciation in what we’ve accomplished but not being too satisfied that we are comfortable with where we are. We are always trying to grow and get to the next level, but it’s important to look back on how far we’ve come. So we’ve taken some time to find a healthy balance between happiness in our successes and a desire to continue striving for more.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

We are always growing and looking for the next product to pop.

Our current plans are expanding our product line into more specific product uses, for years we’ve spent our time on products that allow the customer to use their creativity to build. We know that’s our comfort zone but our next path is to look at products that have an immediate use.

These will include some building kits and miniature woodworking concepts. We’ve debuted another batch of new miniature signs and new siding and wood paneling already this year with another 10 new SKUs in production due to be released over the next few weeks.

For long range planning, we are working on some manufacturing upgrades that should help our growth and profitability tremendously. We are in the conceptual phase and hope to be able to provide more details on our next update in 2023.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

I read “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. It’s about leadership in business and it’s certainly helpful when you have employees you are delegating to on a regular basis. Being a good leader is a constant challenge.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

Be creative, be strategic, be different. I read a lot of start-up stories and those 3 criteria are usually pretty evident.

I chat with people regularly that are intrigued by our company, because it’s outrageous to most.

‘Why do people buy our products, what do they use them for, why are we doing this and what made us start it?’

These are questions I get just about every day, and my answer is simple: because it’s different and it allows creativity. How we are doing it after 7 years is because we are strategic. We spend hours curating new content, new products, and tinkering. We plan our days, months, and years ahead of time.

We set goals and recap after those goals are missed or hit. Have a creative and different idea, put a solid strategy behind it, and it should pay off.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are always looking for talent to help us grow. If you think you can help us in any way, feel free to reach out.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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