My Business Journey as a Stationery Designer
Today I Wanted to Share Some Reflections and Truths about my Business Journey as a Stationery Designer
My Business Journey & Uncertainty:
I’m a luxury wedding stationery designer and the owner of Crimson Letters. My business journey for the first two years, well, let’s just say I was wrapped up in a fever of passion, zeal and was veracious for all things wedding invitation designer related. Yet, I have no love at all for uncertainty. I actually hate uncertainty and crave security. That doesn’t exactly go hand in hand with running a business.
I had never thought of myself as an entrepreneur.
The connotation of that word is too overbearing for me.
But I do see myself as a creative.
A designer. An artist. An illustrator trying to forge her way forward.
I’m probably the only Muslim women, being British with a Pakistani background, wearing a hijab in this wedding entire industry.
But looking back on my business journey, I no longer see that as a stumbling block. I know this is cliche to say, but my works speaks for itself.
So why did I Stick it out with My Business Journey? What was the Inspiration Behind my Business?
About five or six years ago we bought some land in Portugal to start building our own house. It was either to buy a teeny, tiny house in England or be able to build a huge house on our own piece of land in Portugal. I went for the huge house!!!
We were paying for it by cash and slowly building it over a few years.
At the time I was a primary school teacher and oftentimes completely burnt out. I started thinking, when we move to Portugal what would we or I do for the rest of my life?
What would be our way of earning an income?
It was only when I had my best friend from Washington D.C visit for dinner that she spoke about how her sister’s wedding planning business was thriving. She actually couldn’t keep up with the demand.
A spark went off inside me.
It was as though all the moments in my life led to that one point and converged.
Eventually I knew that for my business journey to be successful, I had to align with my most innate, inner passion. Which was to become an illustrator and wedding invitation designer. Yet I do so miss the human interactions and feeling as though my class were my extended family. My students by the end of the year were all so special to me and felt like my adopted children. I would always do some magical science experiment at the end of the week to light them up.
Sometimes the isolation of working from home really gets to me. Other times it is so freeing to have so much of my own space and I know that what I do offers me so much freedom and a way to lead my life on my own terms and my own hours.
However, I still have days where I contemplate, wouldn’t it be better to have had a job with all the benefits that come along with that?
My Business Journey – On the Way:
Trying to think long term rather than short term and why I do not have immediate results has been so so hard.
This has perhaps been one of my greatest challenges. Having the great buzz inside myself, feeling as though I am ready for clients and serious work, yet nothing coming my way has been so very difficult to deal with at times.
I have been really used to earning a really good salary for so long that it has been hard to sometimes go through some months of zero enquiries and zero clients.
Other times I have so many bookings and so much work in terms of production, design, design proposals and creating original artwork, it is insane, It often feels like feast or famine. At times I feel like I’m drowning and desperately need a VA or an assistant, yet I’m not quite ready to bring staff in.
These are all challenges with my business journey that I am still learning to navigate and I will get there!!!
I year or two into my business journey, I really needed a social media detox. I had to make a conscious effort to stop caring about how many likes and followers I have and what other stationers were doing. In fact, I unfollowed and muted many of the wedding stationery designers to protect my own mental health. Seeing a stream of other designers saying that they were fully booked for the year even though to be honest their work was not that drop dead incredible, really left me wondering what I was doing wrong.
I needed to have patience.
I needed to stop the self-comparison.
My Business Journey – Limitations:
Once someone who had the best of intentions said that at the most I would make 1-2K per client and not really anymore than that. I immediately refused to believe that. Everything that was in my gut knew that I could do way better than that. I refused to let someone else’s limitations dictate the way that my business would go.
My gut instinct was right.
Last year booked a client who in the end paid well, well over that. Now I’m not saying that to boast but I am careful who I listen too. I refuse to accept their limitations. I focus on making my own business goals, my own financial goals and try to build upon my own vision.
It’s critical for your business to make sure you take stock of your situation.
What are your yearly goals?
What are you doing to implement changes and try to push forward to new goals?
Creativity will always be ever evolving and changing, but we must, as artists, always consider weighing up our business goals as well.
Attract It In:
I have heard this from many other artists and designers who I respect.
You will attract what you put out!
I am very blessed and grateful to have been able to attract some middle and higher end weddings from Paris, France who have booked me for custom wedding stationery for their private events. I had to hone my portfolio and put the work out there, before those clients were drawn to me.
However, I have also had the opposite happen to me………
This one is STRANGE.
Normally we put our designs up on instagram / website to attract a specific client who is drawn to our unique style. I have to say that it is soooo bizarre, that the opposite seems to happen a lot. I design dark, moody bold designs and create ornate calligraphy YET clients hire me for the opposite. They think that because I can design well I can design something totally out of my style as well. Did anyone go to Picasso and ask him to paint in the style of Monet?! NOOOO!!!
So I find it very strange that clients reach out to me for something that is so not my style!
Nonetheless, I am so thankful for the opportunity to stretch my skills.
I have come to know that my moods are very extreme. I am either very high, absurdly motivated and pushing myself like there is no tomorrow or pretty low. When I hit rock bottom I seem to hit it in a big way. I suppose that’s my style maximalist in all things I do including my moods! Still learning to steer through the highs and lows and somehow find an equilibrium.
Get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hop over to the contact page and leave an email.
If you’re on your business journey, whether you’re just starting out, one your way or finding your way, let me know in the comments what your experiences have been and what you are struggling with right now.