What started out as a personal project for Ashley Reynolds has now developed into a fast-growing Richmond-area business — among the top 250 fastest-growing in the nation.
Reynolds, who grew up in Richmond, was living in Raleigh, N.C., in 2015 and looking for a job after leaving a nine-year corporate career when she started making personal day planners.
“I did it because I couldn’t find a personal planner that I needed,” said Reynolds, a 2004 graduate of Clover Hill High School in Chesterfield County.
Reynolds was inspired further when she found an online community of people with the same interest in making stationery and personal planners, so she started designing and selling those products. The venture grew into Cloth & Paper, and in 2016 she and her husband, Ryan, moved back to the Richmond area to build that business.
Today, Cloth & Paper employs more than 40 people at an office and warehouse off Hermitage Road in Henrico County. The company designs and sells day planners and the paper inserts to fill them, along with pens, paper and stationery, which it sells mostly directly to consumers who order the products online.
In the three-year period from 2018 to 2020, the company posted a revenue growth rate of 1,858%. That was good enough to rank Cloth & Paper at No. 242 nationally on this year’s Inc. 5000 list of the nation’s fastest growing privately held companies.
The annual list, published by Inc. magazine, was released Tuesday. It ranks businesses around the country by their three-year revenue growth rate.
“To be honest with you, it has not really sunk in yet — I can’t even describe it,” Reynolds said of hitting the No. 242 spot on the list.
“I attribute that [growth] to the relationships we have built with our customers,” said Reynolds, the company’s CEO. “Even before COVID-19, we always have had a great pulse on the community and a great relationship with our customers in general.”
During the pandemic, “they were wanting to support us and keep us going,” she said.
Cloth & Paper is a new addition from the Richmond area to this year’s Inc. 5000 list. In all, 45 companies based in the region made the rankings for 2021, four more than in 2020.
Moving up on this year’s list into an elite group near the top nationally was the Richmond-based Sassy Jones, an e-commerce business that sells jewelry, accessories and now apparel that was founded by Charis Jones in 2013 as a side gig while working a corporate job.
Sassy Jones landed moved up to the No. 24 spot, with a three-year growth rate of 12,736%. The business was at No. 75 on last year’s list.
Sassy Jones added a line of ready-to-wear women’s clothing to last year. And Jones, the company’s CEO, hopes to start selling shoes and home goods next year.
Jones said she has grown her business into what should be this year a $45 million to $50 million e-commerce brand.
The company was ranked second overall in Virginia. Arlington-based advertising and marketing company Olympic Media was ranked No. 13 with a three-year growth rate of 20,330%.
This year, 310 Virginia companies are ranked on the Inc. 5000, up from the 280 on the list last year.
Twelve newcomers from the Richmond region made this year’s Inc. 5000 list.
That includes Dobrin Properties (ranked at No. 453), which owns apartment complexes in the Richmond region; Terazo (No. 579), a software development and managed services firm; Team Keeley (No. 1,095), a faith-based coaching business for moms; and VetEvolve (No. 2,264), which helps veterinary practices with pet care and office management during the sale of a practice.
The 45 companies in the region on the list collectively had a median growth rate of 146% over three years, total revenue of $1.3 billion and they added 4,009 jobs.
The local companies are in a range of industries, but fall heavily into software development, technology services, marketing and advertising, insurance, engineering and construction, and specialty consumer products.
The Inc. 5000 includes 33 local companies that have made the rankings more than once, ranging from two to 15 years.
The companies that have most frequently appeared in the rankings include CapTech Consulting, a Henrico-based technology and business management consulting firm founded in 1997 that has made the list 15 times, coming in this year at No. 4,766.
Dominion Payroll, a Richmond-based payroll and benefits processing company founded in 2002, has made the list 12 times. This year, the company was at No. 4,509.
“In a year like 2020 with all of the challenges facing our business, it is especially rewarding to maintain this level of growth and a testament to our amazing team, and their focus on unparalleled client service,” Dominion Payroll President David Fratkin said.
Many other repeat companies fall within the three-to-seven year range, such as Henrico-based technology consulting firm Spinnaker Consulting, which has made the list three times and ranked No. 519 this year with a three-year growth rate of 941%. That was down from No. 160 in 2020.
“As you continue to grow, the percentage growth rate just gets more and more challenging,” said Shawn Sweeney, founder and CEO of Spinnaker, which employs about 50 people. “So to still be that high on the list for three years in row makes us super proud of what we have been able to accomplish.”
“Like most businesses, we certainly faced challenges last year,” because of COVID-19, Sweeney said. “I think there were a couple of things that helped us. We started the year in a strong cash position. It is always good to plan or the unexpected and last year was certainly the unexpected. We were also fortunate that we had a business model that supported remote work.”