Fluvanna Faces:  Susan VonDerBecke

By Harvey J. Sorum

Susan, are you a native of Fluvanna County?  If not where did you reside before and why did you move to Fluvanna County?

No, we moved here in 2000. Before that Alex, my husband, and I lived in central NJ. His family had property in Palmyra and after his dad passed away most of his family moved to Fluvanna. We just followed them. I have lived all over the world including France and Germany as a small child and New York, Illinois and Ohio growing up.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

Alex and I have been married for 44 years, we have two children Cave and Beth. Cave and his family live with us, Beth and her husband are still in NJ. Besides running Inklings, we operate the only meadery, Thistle and Stag in Fluvanna County. My son is a contractor who does remodeling in the Charlottesville area, and we have three grandchildren ages 10, 8, and 2. 

When and why did you start Inklings Ink Screen Printing and what is your business description?

I started Inklings in 1999 while we were still in NJ. I was a school bus driver and wanted to add some extra income. We saw a  guy at a home builders trade show printing on walnuts and were intrigued. We learned about the company he worked for selling these home-based promotional and apparel decoration businesses and we signed on. I narrowed the broad offerings down to screen printing and sign making. I’ve since added digital printing and embroidery. Fortunately for me my son is very good at computer graphics and was able to teach me how to use that. He also has experience working with commercial embroidery machines. Our tag line is “You think it, we’ll ink it.”

Inklings is a catchy name.  Please explain. 

When I was starting the company, I liked the play on words. An inkling is like a germ of an idea, and I was working with ink. My logo uses a wizard and a lion (Gandolf and Aslan) as I pay homage to C. S. Lewis and J. R. R Tolkien, two of my favorite authors, who had a writing club at Oxford with the same name.

How do you know so many people in the county?

When we moved to Fluvanna, we wanted to know more about our new home, so we enrolled in the Fluvanna Leadership Program. We learned the history of the county as well as the many opportunities to serve the community.  We joined the Fluvanna Rescue Squad and spent some time on the Lake Monticello squad as well. I was the tech director and lighting person at the Fluvanna Performing Arts Center at Carysbrook for many years. I was also instrumental in starting a business networking group that met weekly for many years. In addition, I worked part-time at the post office in Bremo Bluff. I will talk to anyone; everyone has a story to share.

Do you help other businesses get started and help them successfully develop?

With the networking group I was able to help businesses and individuals make connections. Part of what we did was to educate the other members and any guest about what our businesses offered and how we do what we do. Since Inklings is a type of marketing business, I can guide new businesses as to some of the best ways to be noticed through differed types of products and practices, such as logo creation, business cards, apparel, signage, promotional products, and more.

Are there trade associations or business groups in Fluvanna County you are an active member with?

Currently the only group that I’m active with is the Fluvanna Women in Business that meets with fun events and get-togethers pretty regularly.

Do you have a web site for Inklings?

My website is www.inklingsink.espwesite.com, my email is Inklings.inksp@gmail.com.

What are your goals in life?

My goals right now are to keep Inklings up to date and operating so that when Alex and I decide to retire,  it can move seamlessly to my son’s family.  After that our camper is going to be seen all over the country!

Any regrets?

I only regret that I hadn’t learned about this business sooner!

Have I missed anything you think our readers might like to know about?

If you’d like to chat, you can find me most Sundays at the Farmers Market by Ace Hardware!

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