For the Fitzpatricks, it's all about the division of labor - Ryan does the pictures, Tilney does words and George, well, George kind of does the naming rights.
Hence, Man vs. George Design, an online greeting card and art print company Ryan and Tilney Fitzpatrick started in 2009.
"George was our cat, and we were trying to think of a name that would be kind of unusual but also playful," Tilney explained. "We thought everyone struggles against something in life, and our struggles mainly centered around George the cat."
"It means we've had a pretty easy life," Ryan joked.
And an interesting one, particularly for George, a lady tabby cat (named after George Harrison), who retired to Michigan after Tilney developed allergies.
The anecdote was an instant ice-breaker for the Wauwatosa couple when they went to New York later for the National Stationary Show, where they debuted their greeting card collection. Ryan's designs competed with six other finalists for best new product.
"It really is a nice feeling," Ryan said.
It's a life they scarcely dared to imagine just a few years ago, when Ryan decided he didn't feel like going to the store to buy his niece a birthday card.
"I said, 'Why don't I design one?' " Ryan recalled.
Back then, Tilney was an IT consultant with an English degree on ice, and Ryan was working as a legislative aide in Madison, dreaming of being an artist.
Tilney still has her full-time job; she does web design and social networking for MVG in all her free time. But Ryan is living the entrepreneurial dream, working full-time-plus on orders from as far away as Singapore and coming up with new ideas for what he describes as whimsical, light and colorful designs influenced by mid-century design and printed locally on recycled paper.
As for the words, Ryan said, "We love puns, and we like to keep things witty and fresh. We try to avoid the stereotypes of a toolbelt for a dad and those kinds of things."
One other thing you won't find on MVG cards: glitter.
"We have a strict no-glitter policy," Tilney said. "It gets everywhere."
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JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Man vs. George Design
PHONE: (414) 218-2558
OWNERS: Ryan and Tilney Fitzpatrick
TYPE OF BUSINESS: greeting card and art prints
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