Wednesday, May 27

11 Questions with Christine of Pretty Pretty Paper

Christine of

Christine owns the sweet "one-of-a-kind correspondence" shop CEVD as well as the Etsy store Pretty Pretty Paper. Thank you, Christine, for taking the time to answer these for me!

1. What was the turning point in your life that made you decide to work for yourself? What were you doing before this?
i had been working for a custom stationery studio for about a year when things changed and the studio closed. it was just me and the owner and i LOVED it so you can imagine how sad i was. after that i spent some time in the corporate world doing all of the graphic design for a handbag company. it was not my cup of tea. i didn't like the constraints that working for a medium-large(ish) company came along with. everything i did was critiqued my a minimum of four different people that didn't talk to one and other. plus there wasn't a lot of room for creativity and i quickly discovered that i needed a lot of room for creativity. so the thoughts slowly crept into my head and then finally i got the nerve to do it.

2. What was your first concrete step after making that decision?
business cards. i had them made before i even met with my accountant ... before i set up a business bank account ... before a lot of things that i probably should have done first.

3. What did you find to be the most difficult thing when you decided to make your business your full time job? What one thing do you wish you had known before starting your venture?
after severing my ties with a steady pay check things changed, and pretty dramatically. all i can say is thank goodness i have a husband that is as committed to my business as i am. seriously if it wasn't for him i don't think i would have been able to make it through the first six months.

4. Who did you go to for advice? What resources were most helpful for you?
the advice i seek comes from everywhere. my husband, my friends, the wee little blogging community i have found myself part of, my old boss and my parents. and my most useful resource has been and most likely will be an accountant. he doesn't do much for the creative side of the venture but he certainly helps out with every other aspect.

5. Being compensated fairly for a service seems to be a difficult thing for a lot of people starting out. How did you decide on pricing? Do you think you were fair to yourself in the beginning?
in the beginning i was practically giving away my work .. no, in fact i was absolutely giving it away. the first few (paying) customers i had didn't always cover what it cost me to print the invites, let alone cover my time designing them. but it was worth it. i am still working to obtain my pricing goals but am being a lot more fair to myself. i think it is a constant battle and i do try to work with EVERY budget that comes through the door, and for the most part i am able to.

6. How did you get your name out there in the beginning? What was the most helpful marketing tool? What didn’t work at all?
i am still looking for the perfect marketing tool, and hope i have found it by way of my new pr company!! but other than that i started a blog, started communicating with local wedding planners, did a couple of event invites for big bridal events and tried my hardest to talk to people in the wedding world. so far making the connections with other vendors hasn't exactly proven to be the best client generating way to go about it.

7. Describe your first “sale” or “event”? Did it go well? What did you learn from your first few endeavors?
my first paid invitation job went pretty well. my bride was super picky (which was actually a plus) and relatively decisive. this made the designing process a snap. the printing process however ... well i just didn't pay enough attention to the details. we ended up going over the agreed upon budget because i just couldn't figure out how to charge her. so in the end she received a rocking good deal on a pretty snazzy set of letterpress invites.

8. There are so many wedding-related businesses out there now. How do you separate yourself from the rest of the pack?
oye, there are so many people out there doing what i am doing so it is hard. i try to separate myself through my service. my favorite part of my job is working with other people to help them get their ideas on paper. the discussions and meetings and phones calls are by far the best part. i don't limit my clients to a certain number of proofs or re-works. i really want them to be thrilled with their invite and lets face it that can't always be done with three pdfs.

9. How do you keep things fresh? Where do you go for inspiration?
the number one source of my inspiration comes from my clients. everyone i have had the pleasure to work with has brought such a new a refreshing perspective and i can't help but credit that for most of my creativity. however i do like to wander around galleries and museums and paper stores ... not to mention spend all of my free time scouring blogs for new ideas.

10. What is the most challenging thing about being your own boss? What is the most rewarding (besides, of course, being your own boss)?
i love the freedom. love it. i don't have a certain amount of vacation days i need to keep track of, i am not required to work from 9-5 (though honestly i typically put in much longer days than that), i can work from anywhere and still have time to do the home things that i love so much ... walking my dog, cooking ... meeting my husband for lunch 45 minutes away. the hard part is i don't always have someone to go to for work approval. i really like to have other people look at the work i do before i send it back to my clients, i tend to get attached to some pieces that just don't work.

11. What advice do you have for people who are thinking about starting their own small business who may not necessarily have a lot of prior business experience?
i don't think that business experience is a must, but one absolutely must have a clear idea of your concept and goals. i would highly recommend writing a business plan for yourself. wether or not you are planning on filing for any kind of funding it is good to get your ideas down on paper. it keeps you more organized and allows you to be more true to your ideas. plus dabbling doesn't seem to work. you have to go all out and dedicate yourself entirely to your business ... if you don't who will. and after all you are going in to business for yourself because you want to do something for yourself.

Next week: Elise of Sweet Penelope

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