Have you ever wanted to know how/where people get the idea to start a business? What did that look like for them? Dive in and read from a handful of industry leaders, who break it down and share exactly where that moment of inspiration struck!
When I started Thimblepress® back in 2012, I never knew that it would be my full-time job. I started it as a hobby and a way for me to be as creative as I wanted to be and on my terms. I have always created art and been interested in the arts. I even dressed as an artist for my kindergarten career day. Kind of crazy, huh? I think you either know you are starting a business and you go in, intentionally seeking out specific numbers, goals, etc. Or you are like me and go kind of fall into it with your passion becoming a full-time career or business. The word career is funny to me. I never think about what I am doing as my career. Ok that was just a side note, but you hear me, right? Thimblepress was born out of a half of a garage in Jackson, MS. As I said above, I was creating, experimenting, painting, & printing all for fun. I had a full time job doing marketing at a school in Jackson, MS, but I really missed getting my hands dirty with paint, ink, etc. I wanted to create to create, not because of a deadline or to market something, but for the love of running a paint brush over a canvas. For the love of mixing colors and creating funky, crazy designs that made me happy. People started inuring about some art prints I had created years ago while attending college at Mississippi State University. I was lucky enough at that time to have a roommate that had (and still has) an online shop where she sells her art, beautiful hand-painted scarves and other items. Her name, Kate (Thomas) Whitley, and she owns Little Things Studio in Nashville, TN. She showed me how I could create an Etsy site and sell those prints to people and then ship those prints. I mean, showing this to me in the beginning you would have thought I had no idea how the internet worked or how packages got from one place to another. ha ha. I thought about names for my Etsy shop for quite some time. I thought about my history, loves, favorite colors, and then I began to think about my grandmothers and how crafty and creative they were. They both taught me how to sew. I began writing down words that reminded me of them. I noticed I wrote the word "Thimble" down more than once in the process. That words went beyond my grandmothers because since a young age I have had a thimble collection from all of my travels to different states. My mother started that collection for me, and I will always be grateful. Today those thimbles sit in letterpress type drawers, vertically mounted to the walls in my dining room. I wanted (& still want) to make beautiful & colorful products that make others happy. That is truly the basis for everything we do at Thimblepress, but it all started with late hours, lots of hustle & a press in half of a garage on Winchester Street in Jackson, MS. Living with Kate was one of the most cherished times in my life. She showed me how I could sell on Etsy, introduced me to the world of craft shows, and really was a huge part of helping Thimblepress take the leap to becoming a legit business. That is why I am such a proponent of paying it forward. Doing something so small for someone (which her help was far from small) can do so much in someone's life. God knew exactly what he was doing when he made us roommates. XO, Kristen
At an early age I fell in love with Paris and for years had an inkling to write a book. No matter how many times I would return for work or fun with friends, I never found the perfect book to guide me around my favorite city. So I set out to write one, spent years researching and the result was BRIGHT LIGHTS PARIS.
I started my business as a nursery art company, because I could not find artwork that I loved for my baby's nursery. I soon began creating my own, and, after purchasing my first archival printer, I listed a few of the prints online and began to sell them. It took many years to gain traction with my sales, and I worked a full-time job for the first 3 years of the business existing. After year 3, I quit my day job to focus on Gingiber full-time. It was around this time that I realized that people who did not have kids really enjoyed my artwork, too! It was then that I began to expand my product line from just art prints to include tea towels, tote bags, calendars, cards, and more.
CONNECT WITH STACIE
Andy went to school for illustration and design and was working as a freelance illustrator and Jane was working in retail as a stationery buyer. While working other jobs, we started brainstorming ideas for cards, from there we bought our first press and started printing cards. We went into business together because we wanted to create cards that we wanted to give.We also knew that if we didn’t follow through with this idea at this time, we’d always kick ourselves for not trying. It was one of those, “If not now, when?” moments.
CONNECT WITH JANE & ANDY
Esselle went through different iterations. The first idea for esselle was simply selling tabletop décor that I personally loved and would likely source for my wedding and home. Over some time it developed into curating a box of tabletop décor essentials called The Hostess Box for hosting dinner parties with ease. Through curating the boxes I noticed the hardest item to source was the place card holders! That’s when I saw a void in well-designed contemporary place cards holders and decided to create our own and haven’t looked back since!
CONNECT WITH SHERRY
I was always ‘editing’ magazines growing up. Martha Stewart was my favorite person when I was eight-years old, but I would go through her magazine with colored pencils and edit her layouts and features, haha!Fast-forward almost twenty years later, I was laid off from my 9-5 job during a massive national layoff. Social media and the idea of presenting your life unrealistically in little squares was taking over and I was just over it. I took time off to visit my Granny and while going through old family photos, I found a picture of my great-grandparents being really silly. I remember thinking, no one would post this. Would anyone I know be silly like this with a camera around for fear of being tagged? I realized our society was gravitating away from realness and wholeheartedness. My husband knew I had a big dream of running a magazine (as evidence by our stack of ripped up and ‘edited’ magazines on the coffee table) and asked me point blank, “Why don’t you just make one yourself?” With his encouragement, I did. I named it after the road where my great-grandparents lived and dedicated its mission to real inspiration for wholehearted living. After a year of Googling all sorts of questions (there is no guide on how to self-publish a magazine anywhere), we printing our first issue in 2014!
CONNECT WITH KATIE
Surrounding myself with motivated and successful friends has been a key component to what I’m doing today. I have been an artist my whole life, but having business sense and a good understanding of how my style keeps evolving has motivated me to grow.
CONNECT WITH GINGER
I spent time reflecting and creating my persona mission statement. Through spending time focusing on what’s important to me, I was able to realize that there are 3 things I am most passionate about: organizing, empowering women and teaching. I designed inkWELL Press to fulfill those passions because I knew that if my business was centered on my priorities, it would never feel like work - it would always feel good (even on the long hard days). And it’s true - my mission statement is my guide in all things I create and do, which makes me happier overall.
CONNECT WITH TONYA
I think my business kind of created itself! I was working in clothing design (and feeling a bit underwhelmed creatively) when a 100-year-old letterpress pretty much landed in my lap. I took classes and learned to print and was soon printing as a hobby in the basement of our house. I started getting clients here and there, and eventually they filled my time so much that a full-time job was tough. I took a leap of faith and quit my day job to pursue printing and 2-D design full time and launched Printerette at the National Stationery Show a few months later. It's been a whirlwind ever since. We do lots and lots of work for weddings and events, have a retail/wholesale line of paper goods, teach letterpress workshops, and we dabble a bit in identity projects. The Printerette aesthetic leans toward feminine, quirky, hand-done, and whimsical and so we tend to attract like-minded clients.
CONNECT WITH CATHERINE
It happened to me actually. I came from the world of magazine publishing and went back to grad school for creative writing. There I met a friend who was an agent. She said she thought I would like it, and I applied for a job. I was hired practically overnight and stayed there for six years. I took to it like a fish to water. It was everything I’d loved about journalism and everything I’d felt was missing from my work in magazines. However, I thought I was going to represent a lot more literary fiction. It turned out I had many more connections to authors writing nonfiction and had a real knack for turning concepts into narratives for books.
CONNECT WITH KIM
I have a BA in Communications and majored in advertising and graphic design. I started my wedding invitation design business when I couldn't find invitations that I love for my own wedding (like everyone else did who got into wedding invitations! haha). I did that pretty successfully for 5 years. When I joined a local wedding vendor collaborative, many of my peers were asking for marketing and design advice. As I began to meet with them one on one, they started to tell me I needed to offer coaching services. I spoke at a conference back in 2013 and was hooked. I loved empowering and teaching other creative business owners, so now that is what I do full time.
CONNECT WITH JENNIFER
After college, I was a graphic designer, supplementing my freelance work with part time retail. At one point, I worked at Paper Source in Houston and that really opened my eyes to how I could integrate my design skills with my sense of humor through greetingcards. I loved stocking the wall with cards from independent designers. I would read the back of each one, and this little voice inside me whispered “you can do this too.” In 2013, I was laid off from the high-end stationery store where I had *just* been hired full time two months prior. I was so excited that I’d finally found my dream job– even if it was incredibly stressful and you never knew who was going to get yelled at. Would it be you? A customer? A vendor? Ah, the suspense! Just as soon as I had acclimated to the position, it was over as soon as it began. The owner informed me she would not be renewing her lease, and I was like, ya know what? I got this. I know how I would do this better, with more love, more joy, more kindness and more fun! That’s when Lionheart Prints was born. It’s about taking risks, believing in yourself and doing the right thing. We try to show that in everything we do.
CONNECT WITH LIZ
A friend of mine got engaged and said to me, "Carey, you're super creative and really uptight, will you help me with my wedding?" Ha ha. The rest as they say is history! I never would have imagined a career in weddings (as evidenced by my BA in Political Science) but sometimes the world delivers you exactly what you need.
CONNECT WITH CAREY
The whole idea started when (despite working in advertising as a creative) i was looking for a creative outlet outside of my day job. i designed & created a few invitations for friends and family, and had a lot of fun doing it, so i decided to take the leap and started a custom invitation business (meant to be sent). i knew fairly early on that i liked the idea of scaling the business. I began exploring wholesale and the idea of a larger product line. The business gradually evolved into a greeting card and stationery line, and now a second line of lifestyle products! (lake + loft)
CONNECT WITH ROBYN
After I got married, I knew I wanted to be a wedding event designer but there was no “event designer” career path, so I chose floral design. I knew that I wanted to do something that was natural, clean, crisp & influenced by the design world. Things I wanted to see at a wedding in florals just weren’t happening at that time. All the designers I saw did garden style or traditional floral design, and I wanted to combine florals with the overall design aesthetic. Over time, as we have grown, we have turned into not only a floral design company, but floral and event design.
CONNECT WITH NANCY
I had just left my 9-5 career as a social worker to stay home with my 1 year old son and had also given up my wedding planning business. I was starting to feel at a loss for what my identity was and felt lonely and directionless. I remembered how much I had loved doing coaching in my last position so I decided to pursue coaching as a possible business venture. I took classes through the Coach Training Institute and pursued certification. I soon realized that I didn’t have to be a Life Coach, but could support Creatives in doing life and business in an integrated way. Reina + Co was founded on the fundamental belief that women are the anchors of our families and communities and when we are fulfilled, happy, purpose-filled, we can create a better world. I wanted to help women who felt as directionless as me find their place in the world and to make a great impact that they were called to.
CONNECT WITH REINA
When I planned my daughter Olivia’s first birthday (15 years ago!) I had so much fun sourcing all of the different elements for her party. I didn’t want to go to the discount party supply store and buy everything that matched - I wanted to curate the elements in a unique way, and crafted many of them myself. Right after that, I started a party business very similar to Sweet Lulu and bought inventory (I even carried some of the same brands I currently stock) and styled photos and created a little paper catalog - but this was well before blogs and Pinterest, and I just didn’t have the social network to sell to. I spent the next 9 years just doing my thing - blogging, crafting, collecting vintage items, and selling things on Etsy. The party bug hit me again in 2010 and this time when I started the business, already knowing how to use Etsy, take decent pictures (although when I look at them now I gag a little bit), and navigate social media (as it existed in 2010) - it took off.
CONNECT WITH JESSIE
We have both been in retail (JM grew up in retail) so it’s always been a part of our lives. Even in a large city like Atlanta, we didn’t see an all-encompassing (fabric to books to gifts to furniture to lighting, etc.) store like ours, that caters to the retail client and the interior designer, so we filled that void.
CONNECT WITH STEVE & JILL
100 Rejection Letters program started based on a personal challenge I committed to on my blog back in 2012. Then, when I was coming off maternity leave after having my twins in 2014, I brought it back as a coaching program and then shifted it into a long-term branding and pitching program! My BrandCrush offer started as a conversation I was having with my graphic designer where we realized that we loved working together and that clients who worked with me on branding strategy and her on website design had great results. We first thought about launching a branding agency but decided to create a workshop-style offer instead. Now that it’s been out in the world for a year, we’re looking into how we can start incorporating agency-style offers into the mix!
CONNECT WITH TIFFANY
CONNECT WITH MANDY
I alway knew that I wanted to have my own business. Even as a kid, I knew that working for someone else just wasn’t going to happen. I worked in the catering industry in my late teens and early twenties. I was always fascinated by the floral aspect of events and thought it would be such a dream job to own a flower shop. I am a very impulsive person. At 23 I figured out a way to buy a local flower shop that was for sale. I lived in Chicago at the time. A couple years into that, I met my now husband who moved me down to Mississippi after we got married. I started TULIP right after moving down as a way to support us through his law school. TULIP has been open 8 years now and has evolved so much. Just this past year, we opened up our brick and mortar shop where we carry fresh cut flowers as well as a large selection of bath products, home goods, and gift items. About 90% of what we carry are from small batch makers within the US. I love being able to support other small business owners. What I love most about the shop is that there is the opportunity to constantly change and evolve all while keeping a consistent aesthetic. I get bored really easy, so this is a fun way to have an outlet for that. It’s my creative canvas.
CONNECT WITH LESLEY
Snippet & Ink was founded by Kathryn Grady in 2007. Before social media was a thing (pre-Pinterest and pre-Instagram), she would create beautiful inspiration boards, lending inspiration for wedding themes and color palettes. It became very popular and the rest if history! She’s created 585 of them and they’re all gorgeous: http://snippetandink.com/category/inspiration-boards/.
CONNECT WITH CHRISTINA
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I’ve always been a creative person. When I started as a wedding planner and designer, I offered sketching to my design clients. I never knew that sketching would become the focal point of my job and that so many people out there wanted to learn how to do it. I launched the first class in 2010 and with every class after that, I was observing what people wanted to learn from me and how it helped their business. It feels wonderful to weave empowerment with creativity to fuel peoples’ passions and personal development.