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Re-Focus creator Angela Stephens stands next to her product display at Staples with store General Manager Frank Bielicke
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
Re-Focus creator Angela Stephens stands next to her product display at Staples with store General Manager Frank Bielicke

Business Spotlight: The Right Focus

Posted online

Helping people is the foremost purpose in business for Angela Stephens. The idea for Re-Focus the Creative Office was born to help her son, Drake Stephens, who had started struggling in school in fifth grade.

“If I could go one day without getting a call from the teachers or the counselors or the principal,” Stephens recalls, “it was a good day.”

An attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis in 2010 provided an explanation but not an answer. Stephens says they tried everything, from medication to counseling. It was when she looked in her son’s backpack and saw only black folders that the lightbulb clicked on: She needed to see things from his perspective.

Swapping the black folders for color-coded ones was a first step. Stephens had noticed that, even when an assignment was completed, her son was getting hung up on the step of turning it in. This switch made it easy for him to locate his work, thus solving the problem the black folders created. With this and other simple changes, her son’s grades transformed from D’s to A’s. Along the way, Stephens also was diagnosed with ADHD, at the age of 45.

In 2019, Stephens took all she had learned about helping people with this disorder and turned it into a business with products that can be found in 200 Staples stores nationwide, as well as online at Amazon and Wayfair, among other retailers. Annual revenue was $500,000 in 2023, with the company’s password book selling the most.

Other products include academic calendars, to-do list legal pads and guided anxiety journals. They aren’t the average calendars or to-do lists, however – every element, from the bold coloring to the formatting, is intentionally designed to work for minds struggling with ADHD or anything else causing memory difficulty.

Re-Focus manufactures its own products, Stephens says, and drop-ships nationwide from its two warehouses – one in Missouri and one in California.

Stephens says she was even able to get in the door of “Good Morning America” with the products. Re-Focus has been featured on the talk show’s online Deals & Steals page four times in the past six months, staying on the page for two weeks each time. On April 1, the company’s products will be featured for the fifth time. For this exposure, Stephens says GMA is given an undisclosed percentage of the funds earned.  

Road to retail
A highlight in the journey of getting the Re-Focus product line in retail stores occurred at Springfield’s Staples store. One day, Stephens walked in and introduced herself to General Manager Frank Bielicke.

After that meeting, Bielicke invited Stephens to set up a table at his store to spread awareness of the brand, and she says he served as a mentor while she sought to get her products into Staples stores. She pitched the Re-Focus products to corporate for two and a half years.

Before Stephens was successful in this endeavor, Bielicke says he advocated for her and the Re-Focus products because of her passion.

“She wasn’t just in it for the money,” Bielicke says. “She was in it to make life better for others.”

Eventually, the head of retail reached out to Bielicke, asking for a reference for Stephens. First, the Re-Focus products made it onto Staples website. Then, it finally happened: Stephens received a list of 200 Staples retail stores that were going to carry her products. The only problem: Bielicke’s store wasn’t on the list. Stephens told Staples that was a dealbreaker.

“My success depends on his success,” Stephens says. “If I’m getting any kind of exposure, I want him to get just as much because he’s been so kind to me.”

Staples obliged, and Re-Focus made it onto retail shelves in March 2022.

Other retail outlets include CVS and Hy-Vee, as well as Walmart.com, she says.

Next in Line
As the owner of a longstanding executive search firm, A. Stephens & Associates LLC, in business since 1994, Stephens was no stranger to the world of business. Even so, she says getting her products into retail stores was a difficult undertaking.

As such, one of her passions is turning around and helping those who are steps behind her in their businesses. She wants to educate small-business owners as well as help them earn funding so that they can get their products in retail stores. This desire is the result of recognizing those who made it possible for her to reach a level of success.

“It’s people like Frank who helped me,” Stephens says.

To accomplish this, Stephens speaks at events and hosts webinars. She also hosts two podcasts: RE-Focus with Angela Stephens and Refocus Careers. Additionally, Stephens is certified with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

As a Marshfield native, Stephens is adamant about encouraging locals of Springfield and the surrounding area to pursue their business dreams. She says she aims to network with leaders in the area to make this happen.

“I want people to know that you can be a business owner in Springfield, Missouri,” Stephens says, “and you can do anything you want.”

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