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Article updated: 11/19/2013 7:00 AM

Barrington entrepreneur develops organizational planner

A Barrington woman has developed an organizational planner, outlined by topic, with an easy and concise way of recording vital information while living in order to run your home or in the event of illness or eventual death.

A Barrington woman has developed an organizational planner, outlined by topic, with an easy and concise way of recording vital information while living in order to run your home or in the event of illness or eventual death.

Karen Lea Cline

Karen Lea Cline

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An interview with Karen Lea Cline, owner of If I Croak based in Barrington.

Q: Describe your business.

Business: If I Croak ... The things you should know
Product: organizational planner
Address: 1345 Carlisle Drive, Barrington, Illinois 60010
Owners: Karen Lea Cline
Year business started: I started working on the design concepts in January 2010
Web address:

A: I have developed an organizational planner, outlined by topic, with an easy and concise way of recording vital information while living in order to run your home or in the event of illness or eventual death. A beautiful box and binder, with If I Croak ... The things you should know holds the binder. All your important documents are gathered recorded and protected in one self-contained planner. You will be able to stay organized while living and to navigate through a difficult time.

Q: What made you start your business?

A: This business started out of the need to help my husband and family with my new medical needs being diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then breast cancer with all the surgeries and continued care. My family needed important information, to run our home, and for my care and I wanted it to be easy for all of us. Then my neighbor saw the product and said she needed one. When she saw that I referenced the product which I used as she asked me about a service we used for our home care, and I looked it up in the If I Croak ... The things you should know, and then friends of ours saw it and said they needed the product, so I found there is a very real need for this in our homes.

Q: How did you come up with the name?

A: The saying If I Croak ... was my way of talking about certain things that can be awkward and uncomfortable but the saying made it fun and inviting for anybody to talk about and to apply for their use. The logo is a cute frog and the binder is divided with easy applications defined by topic to include all your important documents that may include your will, insurance papers, banking information, and end of life wishes. The outside is a beautiful box, so if there are papers you do not categorize right away, you have great way to store them and protect them. Everyone needs to apply the information to help them while living.

Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?

A: I believe for me, it is the connections and difficulty of the applications I have needed to learn by computer. I have had the best training for this, however, it has its challenges, but the process is very rewarding to see the connections. Also, with this product, making sure before we start the distribution process that we have included within the product, information that is needed for all to receive the benefits of use. This took many proofs and design revisions of the product. I had the best direction because of my husband, Chris, who has been in the printing business for 39 years, and the great design direction which was a collaboration with him and his employees at Cline Printing.

Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?

A: I love seeing change and new discoveries, and really enjoy the process of working hard to develop new relationships. I am excited that we are selling the product on, as well as several retail outlets, including Hallmark or direct via email to It's been great seeing the development from A to Z.

Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?

A: I really love helping people, and that is why I went into the medical field and graduated from nursing. I still have a passion to help people. My present retail business, Lea Image Studio, was a catapult because when my medical needs that came to pass, then my life changed. I operate out of my home, photography, makeup artistry and skin care. These medical changes were a direct influence of If I Croak ... Organizational Planner during my healing. I feel my personal relationship with Christ has been a blessing and I want to share this hope. We eventually want to give back a percentage of profit to a cancer support organization. As a former Mrs. Illinois/America 1998, I was able to speak and encourage so many worthwhile causes. I still feel the need to return my blessings.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: The excitement of the prospects of new relationships and how much money, time and perseverance it takes to start a product and distribute it for sale. Also thinking about the prospects of where we will sell. I love watching "The Shark Tank" and I have considered, recently, presenting my pitch and my product to them.

Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?

A: Never, ever give up and have a big enough vision for your business. My personal quote is, "Live each day to the fullest, make the most of each moment, each hour, each day of your life!"

• Every Monday we feature a small, suburban business. We want to hear about yours. Contact Kim Mikus at

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