Stationery Business 101: Starting Strong

Then you should take this class...

Do you love paper? Have you ever wondered how to start your own stationery / paper goods company? If so, my online class might be just the thing for you!

I know when I started Sycamore Street Press about 7 years ago, I looked around for a class or book that could give me specific advice to starting a stationery business. I found nothing.

Instead, I learned the hard way.

Through trial and error, I learned how to stand out from the competition, how to plan a product line, how to find and work with manufacturers, where the best supplies were, what shipping software to use, and many many more factors (large and small) that go into running a successful paper goods company.

I’ll admit, I’ve made some big mistakes that I could just kick myself over! But those have been some of the best learning experiences which led to growth and eventually to selling our products all over the globe — in hundreds of fine independent boutiques as well as major retailers such as Anthropologie, West Elm, Paper Source, and BHLDN. Our award winning goods have been featured in the Huffington Post, Daily Candy, Design*Sponge, Cup of Jo, Better Homes and Gardens, Country Living Magazine, Martha Stewart, and other fine publications…

Most importantly (to me), my husband and I have been able to support our children while working together and doing something we love. I’m so grateful for that.

Keep reading to hear the really honest story of how I decided to teach Stationery Business 101: Starting Strong

Then this class can help...

So, in about March of this year, my friend Alma Loveland approached me about teaching an online stationery business class for a new online teaching platform called atly.

And I hesitated.

At first it seemed like a crazy idea. Why would I share all my hard-won secrets? Wouldn’t that just create more competition for my company and therefore make my job and life in general so much harder? I talked it over with friends and family, and many of them told me it was a bad idea. But I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Over the past year, I’d gone through a lot of changes both personally and professionally. And although they really were changes for good in the grand scheme of things, I’ll be honest: it was the hardest year of my life. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially — it was tough. I got through it, though. And don’t worry — things are gaining momentum again and will be better in the long run because of those changes.

But let me take a step back, because I want to be completely honest with you.

Many of you know me in real life or have been following me online for years. You know my kids names, when they’ve been sick, what they like to eat. You’ve seen Kirk and I go from a young couple stumbling through our first few craft fairs with a handful of cards and prints, to celebrating our 10 year anniversary and gaining respect in our industry. Through it all, I’d like to think that we’ve become friends. Even for those of you who just found your way here for the first time — I hope that we can be friends, too. I’d like to think that this whole community formed around Sycamore Street Press is a group of friends who enjoys creating a simple, beautiful life for themselves and their loved ones.

So with that in mind, between friends, I need to tell you this: the only way I stayed sane through the never-ending marathon of last year, was by relying on my Father in heaven. I prayed like I’ve never prayed in my life. I pleaded for help. And I felt His presence — directing me, comforting me, carrying me through.

Why am I telling you all this? Because through these experiences, I was learning to put my confidence in God. And by doing so, I was learning to make my decisions from a place of love rather than of fear. By making decisions out of love and generosity, I found that I was getting love and generosity in return, and I felt happier. I’ve heard this principle called the the abundance theory — don’t you love that!? Abundance is such a great word/state of mind to live by.

As much as I’ve been through and learned, though, I still stumble. Which is why, when Alma suggested I teach people how to create a stationery business, I hesitated. But then I remembered how I am trying to make decisions based in love rather than out of fear. And I felt the familiar feeling — the gentle nudge from Him — and I knew I needed to teach the class. Not only that, I grew excited to teach it. I couldn’t wait! My enthusiasm for it has been so palpable that when I explain it to my friends and family who had previously been skeptical — I was able to change their minds and get them excited about the idea as well!

Get a strong start in the world of stationery with this class.

Putting together this class has been a labor of love — not only for me, but for the Sycamore Street Press team, and for the 11 different stationery industry insiders who so generously shared advice and insight through video interviews.

If you are looking to start your own stationery business, or are in the beginning stages of one already, Stationery Business 101 will really help you to skip so many of the steps I had to go through. You’ll get the nitty gritty details and insightful advice you need to create a successful company. And if you sign up for instructor feedback, I’ll be available to answer any questions you feel like throwing at me. Go ahead — I want to help!

And FYI: I’m already developing Stationery Business 201: Sell & Promote Your Work, which will go over wholesale, trade shows, sales reps, social media, and more…

Thanks for reading, friend. xo, Eva 

A BIG THANK YOU TO…

The interview subjects: Sabrina & Eunice Moyle of Hello!Lucky, Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co., Carrie Gifford & Hal Mertz of Red Cap Cards, Cat Seto of Ferme à Papier, Emily Blistein of Clementine, Joan Schnee of On Paper & Green Paper Co., Megan Gonzalez of MaeMae Paperie, Suzie McKig of Twig & Fig, and Erin Ozer of Knot & Bow.

Sycamore Street Press team members: Kirk Jorgensen and Allison Cornu.

atly team members: Adam Ashton, Alma Loveland, and Melanie Burk.

And to Jessica Peterson, for the above photos.

23 Comments

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  1. Miranda says:

    Eva. I have so much to say about this wonderful post that I don’t even know where to begin! It is no secret that I admire everything you do and I have emailed you on many occasions with questions. You have always been so generous with your answers and truly made me feel like we’re real life friends! I’m so thrilled to be able to take your class and what a wonderful example you’re setting by putting the abundance theory to work! I know you will continue to be such a powerhouse in this industry and a strong support in the community and I’m so grateful that so many of us will be able to learn from you. xoxo!

    • Eva says:

      SO sweet of you to say, Miranda. You just made my day! I really hope this class can be of help and I’m so glad to have such a supportive community of online friends like you! xo

  2. Jackie says:

    CHILLS!!! So excited for you. What a great post! It will be so great Eva!

  3. Yay! I’ve been a fan for a while and I”m excited to take your class:)

  4. Congratulations! I am so excited for you for you and love that you spent all of this time working to make the path a little smoother for budding stationery designers. I know it will be so helpful to many in the stationery world. I was thrilled to be a little part of it and can’t wait to see what comes. xoxo

  5. Ashley says:

    Hi Eva! I just registered and am so excited to get started. I launched my line about a year ago and feel some changes in the making. I look forward to learning more about your experience.

    • Eva says:

      Hi Ashley,

      Thank you so much for signing up! This class teaches the exact types of things that I was looking for in my first few years. Hope it can be a help to you!

  6. This entire post/knowing about this class is a GOD. SEND. I finally stopped being scared a few months ago and put some of my designs on Etsy. I’ve sold two but definitely am in that “OK, now what…?” phase as well as feeling like I need help to figure out what’s next. I’ve always loved SSP’s designs and always thought about emailing you but always decided not to. I can’t wait to take your class though and hear your thoughts on the work I have so far. So excited!

    • Eva says:

      Hi Marissa, So good to hear your perspective — thank you for sharing! And thank you for your kind words. I’d love to hear your feedback on the class once you get through it. Good luck with everything!

  7. Liz White says:

    I’m so happy that I found your class! I’m currently re-branding and re-focusing my business goals, and I think this class is going to be such a huge help and inspiration :) I’m also glad to hear there will be a second class! I can’t wait!

  8. Jo Tilsley says:

    Wonderful inspiring post! Just signed up today for your class.
    I also believe and live by the abundance theory x

    • Eva says:

      Hi Jo, Thanks so much for signing up! I know — the more I think about it and try to live it, the more wonderful I think the abundance theory is.

  9. angela says:

    Dear Eva, I really enjoy reading your class presentation. It makes it very personal and I’m sure it will encorage people to sign up. Starting from a genorous point of view and wanting to share with others, i’m sure it will be much appreciated. Let me know if I can help somehow, maybe for the next session?
    with all my best wishes….

    • Eva says:

      Angela,

      Thank you so much for your kind comment! And thank you, I’ll definitely contact you about the next session! I’m on vacation now, though, so after I get back… Hope you are doing well, Angela!

      Best,
      Eva

  10. Just signed up for this class last night on a whim (+ I mean, really I’ve been wanting to since you released it!). I started my own small business this year + things are good, I’m having fun, but I so appreciate getting help from others, especially those who have been through the same things. It’s nice to not feel so alone. I actually was thinking about jumping into wholesale pretty soon + I’ve been working out pricing details… but I decided to hold off a little + take your class so I can learn a bit more of the things I need to know regarding just the business itself. I’m so excited to get started, and I’m already pumped for your next class too, as I’m sure you’ve already guessed. :)

  11. Kelsy says:

    Eva, thank you so much for creating this class.

    I read through the syllabus on Atly, but I wanted to ask more specifically: when you are first deciding on paper and printers, do you delve into how to get test prints from different printers on a bunch of different papers (or how to narrow down the paper before getting samples printed) so that you don’t kill a forest or break the bank? (Too late on the latter for me…my screen-printed art prints are large so I couldn’t just use little 8.5×11″ sheets…had to buy a minimum of 25 large sheets of each type of paper I wanted to test. Wish I could have tested even more shades/brands/etc., but it seems so wasteful to have to buy so much. I’m wondering how others go about finding the perfect paper/printer combo.)

    Thanks!

    • Eva says:

      Hi Kelsy,

      I don’t go into detail on this specific topic, although we do talk about how to go about choosing a manufacturer to work with. And when students sign up for instructor feedback, they are welcome to hit me up with any and all questions! Sounds like you are very thorough with your testing! That’s awesome, but you;’re right, it will eat up resources fast. If it were me, I would probably do test prints on much smaller pieces of paper with just a portion of the design, and then when I narrowed it down, only get a few full size tests.

  12. Kelsy says:

    Thanks for answering, Eva!

  13. Sara Tea says:

    Hi there Eva…I actually found you via Pinterest somehow over a year ago when I first started building my new online community for my store. Through your pins I began to get to know you, appreciate your style, expression & pieces from your business creations. Last week I saw your post about your online class the day after I literally did a prayer to take my personal artwork/business to the next level. I needed some knowledge, and wasn’t sure where to look. I have to tell you I’m thrilled to take your online class…but moreso after reading this am honored to be a part of your life…in some small way. Thanks for your authenticity of sharing this. It means a lot to me. Your realness is felt…and something I appreciate as a human being but also business owner. Bless you! – Sara Tea

    • Eva says:

      Hi Sara, Thank you so much for your kind words, for your appreciation, for your honesty. You made my day! I really hope that the class will be a help to you and an answer to your prayer. I wish you the best with all your endeavors!

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