EVERYONE HAS A STORY. In April of 1978 I waited tables at a local & very popular restaurant on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. I was told that guests saved their cash during the winter to be able to play at this lakeside restaurant during the summer months.
Around dusk (8pm ish) the mosquitos came out so everyone would come inside – it was so busy! Each time I had an order ready to be served, the cook – “Cookie”, would yell out my name. I started this position in April, by August I was so tired of hearing my name. One evening I informed the cook staff that I would no longer respond to my given name, they would have to come up with something else….Cookie came up with Olga Schpitfeir. Not only did the name stick, it also followed me around.
It was that following year I decided to write the book on napkin folding. Another friend jokingly said I should name it “Olga’s Frumpy Folds”. I liked it so I decided to use it.
The next logical question arose: Who is Olga? From that question – was born the character.
My story, Laura Meinhardt, goes like this.
I financed my college education with loans, grants and working in restaurants. One of the tasks in restaurants is to fold cloth napkins for your shift, and that job is never done. I bet I folded 1000’s of napkins. I also took mental note of people’s reactions to the folds at the tables. Many times I demonstrated to guests how to re-fold what they had just unfolded as they couldn’t put it back together again.
One Christmas, I decided to gift my mother with cloth napkins and a book on how-to fold them. I searched and searched to no avail… I couldn’t believe I couldn’t find one book on the topic; which is what inspired me to write. Little did I realize the impact that would have on my life.
I began a full-on search for napkin folds. I asked executive chefs, family and friends and soon they started coming in. I decided that 50 would be good value, so when I found my 50th in Mazatlan, I moved into full production. A few years later I expanded it to 62 and ended up selling 70,000 copies of OLGA’S FRUMPY FOLDS.
The experience of marketing this book has its own story. However, what I learned is that – napkin folding crosses cultural borders and it spans age – 8 to 80. I’ve heard as many stories from men as I have from women. Most recently, I observed that it’s also crosses generations.
A few years ago, my niece shared with me her story. She had a speech assignment which was to demonstrate something while she spoke about it. After much deliberation, she choose napkin folding!
At an impromptu going-away party for me at work, the design team learned that I was going to build this website and expand the number of napkin folds (I already had 62 in the book). Several of the designers expressed interest in this topic as home entertaining was a big interest of theirs.
Napkin folding marches on!
Never be caught without the means to create beautiful napkin folds. The Fabulous Folds app is available for iOS and for Android.
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