Hi. I’m Sam. My wife Angel and I have a 3-year old son named Cash, and a 3-year old passion project called popsigns.co.
You might not have ever heard of the term “Welcome Team” before. If you have, I would almost certainly bet that you heard it in church.
I grew up in church. My family lived in the church. When people ask Angel and I how we met, we look at each other and say “In church.”
Church has always been a big part of our lives, and yet it hasn’t always been the most enjoyable or the most exciting. Let’s face it. We know that it can be pretty awkward sometimes to go to church, especially if it’s a new place you’ve never been before.
Church can also be boring, and we’ve experienced a lot of that as well. But despite these barriers, the church has always been a place where we have found that we can find people who care, are ready to listen, and help guide you on the journey of life. And that’s always made it worth the dance for us.
This isn’t us
Looking around, we could always tell some things could be better. We didn’t really know anything about designing culture or that it was even possible to do that, but we would always ask ourselves “Why aren’t people enjoying this more?”
This wasn’t who we were or wanted to be. We knew there had to be more people like us, and we wanted to find our tribe.
Church should be enjoyed, not endured
We met Rich and DawnCheré Wilkerson in 2014.
Yea, the ones that married Kim and Kanye.
>pause for conversation<
And we’re back.
Rich and DC were like no one we’d ever met before. Their charisma entered the room 10 seconds before they did.
It seemed impossible to be in a bad mood around them.
They showed us that strangers could be fast friends.
They taught us that culture happens either by design or by default.
They brought us along on the journey and asked us to be on team to plant a new church in Miami, called VOUS.
For the first time, we started to feel like we knew who we were.
This is us. This is who we wanted to be.
Parking Cars for Passion
When we started having gatherings, I would help park cars and Angel would help welcome guests. It was important to us that people wouldn’t feel awkward or nervous or lost when they arrived. We wanted them to feel like they belonged, like they were at home.
We took an interest in this area and developed a deep care for our guest’s first impression. We knew that not everyone could see the value in standing out in the parking lot to wave at cars, but we did.
Seeing people’s faces and being able to make a moment out of their first visit was a practical expression of one of our core values, People are our heart.
Yet as we grew, we realized we would need a tool to help give this experience to everyone.
The first popsigns
We created the first version of popsigns for our launch day. We had designed these rectangular posters with phrases on them that we felt captured our message for guests as they arrived.
They said things like:
“You belong here”
“You can sit with us”
“The best is yet to come”
We wanted to create an experience for guests that would make them feel like we were expecting them, like they belonged.
They were just poster board with paper stuck on with spray adhesive. They were probably pretty rough looking.
Yet, the results were amazing.
People felt welcomed, they felt loved. They felt like they belonged.
The smiles on people’s faces and the experience of walking into our church with a dozen people holding signs that said “welcome home” was incredible.
It was obvious that the emotional connection was there. People loved them. They became the highlight of our church’s welcome experience.
We could finally say we were experiencing the community we had dreamed of. A vibrant, fun, exciting community that was attracting all kinds of people that you would want to do life with. We had found our tribe.
This is who we are.
Later we improved the design, chose a material that was rugged, rigid, and weatherproof, and refined the shape into cute squares with rounded corners.
These changes really made our sort of handmade signs feel refined, and they stood out and grabbed your attention. And since they photograph so well, we started to feature them in a lot of our Instagram posts.
IG started to blow up — people would comment on our photos and ask where we got them. Magazines mentioned them. Emails were coming in. It wasn’t long before we started to see a pattern.
We recognized the need for this tool in the church community and so we quickly built a website where people could get them without having to struggle to do it themselves.
popsigns.co was born.
The good, the bad, and the honest
Building a business is like going to school, but instead of getting a bad grade, your decisions impact your brand, your credibility, and your ability to operate.
The first week we launched, our distributer changed their pricing structure and we almost lost everything.
I remember staring at the invoice thinking to myself “How are we ever going to figure this out?”
But instead of reacting in fear, it developed grit inside of us. We got on the phone and negotiated with our distributer and they reversed the change.
We’ve worked countless late nights, all nights, and early mornings to design and develop products, write emails, process orders, and talk to customers.
There have been times where we have felt like quitting, times when we felt like we didn’t know what we were doing. Times when we would see our hard work being copied by others and feeling so helpless about it.
But these situations always presented us with the opportunity to get better. We chose to direct our energy towards building a better product, to create a culture of improvement, and to serve our customers better than anyone else could.
And we’ve loved every season of it.
3 years later we’ve helped over 3000+ churches transform their culture by creating an irresistible welcome experience that makes people feel great, builds trust in your brand, and turns visitors into family from their first step.
The future of popsigns
Our goal is to continue serving our customers by creating new fun ways to celebrate and welcome guests, and to turn mundane moments into memorable ones.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that you can commemorate any occasion. The moments we make today, can become the future we see tomorrow.
Wherever there are popsigns, there’s sure to be a party.
Celebrate constantly, love community, and make people smile!