Your AhhHA! moment - you know those moments where brilliance may have just been discovered or the pieces finally came together?
"Opening Amelia Outposts have been amazing for me. I have one in Memphis and Water Valley currently, with Asbury Park, NJ and New York City opening in the next few months. Reaching such a larger market without the high overhead has been amazing!" -Erin
"When I first decided that I was going to exhibit at the National Stationery Show and launch a collection, I spent a lot of time reflecting on what that meant - to have a collection. I didn't want to create a line that existed purely for the sake of something being pretty. I wanted our line to have more purpose and meaning, and so that's exactly what I set out to do. Many of our greeting card phrases are rooted in "Americanisms" which to this day was one of my best lightbulbs, as it is what ties the entire company together I think. I love a good pun, food or otherwise, and breathing new life into these vintage phrases, connecting generations past and present, helped to give me purpose moving forward. It also tied directly into our goal of being a 100% made in the USA company. Joshua (the union half of Belle & Union) spent 6 years in the US Army, and I was always awed by his commitment to something greater than himself. I wanted to do that in a way that I knew how - by committing this company to being truly American made. It hasn't been easy, especially with the addition of fabric and textile components, with us spending as much as a year creating our own supply chain to ensure our fabric was American grown cotton, but it has been worth it. We are not just another company sending our designs to China to mass produce and turn a profit. We create quality American made goods to honor and respect our country's soldiers who fight for our freedom, for our right to own businesses in this great country we love. It gives us purpose beyond ourselves." -Meg
"I think to be a real business you have to have lots of those and keep evolving." -Aubrie
"Those moments usually happen when I'm traveling. Something about leaving town makes the wheels turn and all the pieces fit together. There have been many, many AHA moments over the years - sometimes it's a new product idea, or the realization I need to hire someone, or a clearer vision for our brand, or the realization that we need a new press. They're always amazing, inspiring, scary moments!" -Sara
"Working with a professional photographer to shoot my lookbooks was a MAJOR ah-ha moment for me. I thought my product photos were pretty good at the time, but when I saw those first previews of the photos that Laure Joliet took of my Spring/Summer lookbook, I just about fell down from shock. They were SO great, and so much better than what I could have achieved alone. It's great to work with a true artist!" -Erin
"For as long as I can remember I have loved paper HARD. I started making greeting cards a few years ago but my heart isn’t ONE HUNDRED percent in it. I love it but I’d rather leave it to people who really rock and roll at it. My passion is nerding out about paper and so naturally, I wanted to open a store. I always figured I would be successful but almost every scheme works out in your own brain. It wasn’t until this very year it was really cemented in. When I went to NSS I had such brand recognition I didn’t even realize! Exhibitors were calling out to say OH HAI left and right because they recognized my name from Instagram! And every Sunday in the South End, people ask me if I have a “real store.” To me, that means I have “It.” I have a good eye for things people want and if I build it, they will come." -Kristina
"The first time I ever had a team meeting - where I realized that even though I’d started this company to allow me to be home with my future kiddos (3 in five years! What!) I’d somehow brought together this group of incredible women to work toward a common mission. That was cool." -Emily
"Realizing that we could make a living out of this job and quit our day jobs advertising. Our first pay check was like "YES! We can actually do this. People really like us!" - Lisa
"Again, I don't think I can call out one specific moment. We actually have a lot of those. I consider them to be times when we feel like we have a great idea or we feel super inspired and creative. For me there are a few things I know I need to do when I am not feeling inspired:
1. Unplug. Sometimes you have to step away from the phones and computers to feel inspired. There is so much content and material online these days and it can make you feel overwhelmed and like there are no new ideas. Whenever I step away for a while I feel invigorated to get back in the game.
2. Read. Whether it's a blog, a magazine, or a good book. I find that it can really help spark new ideas for me.
3. Network. I got to be honest, I can be a total hermit. However, whenever I take the time to meet with people in the industry I find it totally inspires me to get to work and be better at what I do. Plus, opportunities are made that way. " -Taylor
Photo by Delbarr Moradi. http://delbarrmoradi.com
"When we got the Miehle vertical to work. We were like, "Why did it take us this long to get an automated press?" -Arley-Rose
"I am not a graphic designer. When I first thought about starting my line it was going to be strictly words to make people laugh (and still pretty much is). My first inclination was to write everything by hand, ( I like to tell people that my sense of humor and my handwriting peaked in 3rd grade and now I’m making a living off of it) and I’m glad that’s what I did. People can say that it’s messy, ugly, etc., but I look out into the world of letterpress products and see a lot of people copying other people, intentionally or not, and know that my line is and always be original." -Adam
"In the middle of a slow season, I had been wracking my brain searching for the seedling of the next big thing for our Collection. It was weeks of brainstorming, all for naught. One Sunday afternoon, exhausted and outdone with my ideas, I went to take a nap. I noticed the texture and design of my Belgian linen duvet cover that looks like a grain sack. And I had my voila! moment. An invitation that's like a miniature French grain sack, with the enclosure cards inside. No one in our industry had done that yet, it made so much sense with our fabric invitation wheelhouse, and I designed the whole suite that afternoon. It was exhilarating!" -Erin
"I started Packed Party based off of a dream I had about sending myself a physical Pity Party package, so that was really my first ah-ha moment I suppose, and the second was The Doorstep Necklace I came up with. we were racking our brains trying to come up with the perfect piece to launch our jewelry line with and this just sort of hit me. I screamed like a lunatic because I was so excited and put pen to paper immediately drawing up what I wanted it to look like and seeing there was nothing like it out there. Bringing people unique items that aren't offered anywhere else is something I really pride myself on. There are inventors, innovators, and straight up "me too" brands...I always want to invent and be my most creative self." -Jordan
"When I was redesigning the packaging for our candles in 2011, I was so frustrated that I couldn’t make a design on the computer work. I have no background in graphic design, so was trying to make labels in a Word document. Eventually I went really rudimentary and made a stamp - and I hand stamped candle labels for a year after that, until we started scanning the stamps and getting them printed. It felt like a very real extension of me, not like someone else’s idea of what my product was." -Kristen
"There’s been a lot of AhhHa moments but the biggest one was when I figured out how to actually make money. It only took about three years after literally testing every idea under the sun." -Jillian
"Back in January of 2013, I knew that something needed to change with Sycamore Street Press. Things weren't looking good, and we had to find a way to turn it around. I read The Fire Starter Sessions, and all of a sudden, I saw with such clarity what I should do. I needed to really focus and hone our brand, which would mean letting go the freelance designers we had and getting back to just my own designs. It was a tough decision, because the freelance designers had been with us for years and were good friends. But I knew that to keep growing our company so that we could provide for our growing family, we had to do it. It's still a tough time to think back on, but it was absolutely the right decision." - Eva
"I don't know if this is an ahhhhHA moment but a decision that we made that has been a game changer for our shop was participating in Norman's 2nd Friday Art Walk. We showcase a different artist every month and serve up tasty cocktails and treats, which when you are serving up 300+ doesn't come cheap. We put a lot of thought and work into the art walk and it usually makes for a really long day. But it is totally, 100%, not a doubt in my mind, worth it. It has allowed us to have a relationship with our customers that goes deeper than the normal retail experience, making us a part of the community which is honestly our favorite part of being a small business." - Dana
"The day that someone told me to buy tiffanypratt.com because I would need it one day because I was a brand." -Tiffany
"When I realized that being “nine people’s favorite thing” was better than being “one hundred people’s ninth favorite thing”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHCnL13P5Y4" -Susan
"When I was just playing around with jewelry and it all sold out at a Junior League Holiday Shopping Spree! That day my life changed and Moon and Lola was born!" -Kelly
"Truly, when I started writing my column for Oh So Beautiful Paper and this wonderful community of designersemerged with friendship and encouragement, I felt: YES, this is where I'm supposed to be. Running a small business is no small feat but the community that you can build is amazing. I'm reminded daily of the power of kindness and how sharing information and opening up conversations can make our businesses grow and our lives better." -Emily
Thanks again friends for following along on our new series and I truly hope you enjoyed it! Catch question 11, next Wednesday!