Over the next few months, I will be writing periodic reports on my little paper dream. These reports are written in a journal format to help express how this journey unfolds. I would love your feedback/comments as I write these reports (would be really helpful!). Also, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or via email!
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with paper goods. As a little girl I learned the art of handwritten letters from my mom who instilled the habit of writing a handwritten thank you note for anything and everything—when in doubt, write a thank you note on beautiful stationery! Then, as a teenager, I began a pen pal program focused on writing handwritten letters to children in the hospital. I found the benefits of these letters to extend far beyond the words on the paper. To hold a tangible sentiment from another person builds a unique connection. To receive handwritten letters lifted the spirits of the children isolated from their social world. But what I loved most was how these letters became treasured items kept and displayed for years. When my best friend, Matt, was in isolation after his stem cell transplant, I promised to send him 30 letters to help him through this time so he didn’t feel so alone. These letters became a sacred thread in our relationship. I will always treasure the notes I have from him. Even though he is no longer physically present, whenever I miss our connection, I can open my box of cards and see his handwriting and hear his voice.
What I’ve learned is that the art of the handwritten letter is multifaceted. It’s not simply about pulling out a piece of stationery, writing a couple sentences, and putting the letter in the postal box. It’s also about the life of this handwritten letter. How will the recipient feel when she receives this card in the mail? How will she hold on to this sentiment as a reminder of the joy in her life? Most often, we end up with cards in boxes or a couple displayed on our desk. And for me, this diminishes the potential impact of the handwritten letter.
For many years, I’ve talked about this little dream of mine—to start a small collection of paper goods that would somehow change the impact of the handwritten letter. In 2012, I am making this dream a reality—crazy, scary, exciting, and oh my gosh is this really happening! My emotions are all over the place because this is a very new type of project for me. I also know that I’ve built this project up so much in mind that the reality will not equal the fantasy. As such, I must tackle my perfectionistic tendencies every step of the way to make this happen. I hope that these reports help me do that by making me more publicly accountable.
With all dreams and huge scary goals, we must choose to start—somewhere, anywhere. I’m going to post little reports over time as I navigate this process and hope these reports inspire you to begin bringing one of your dreams into reality.
Capture the Dream
Big crazy scary dreams have a way of percolating within our minds. They seem to stay there gathering dust until something triggers forward momentum. For me, this dream of creating a line of greeting cards has been on the back-burner. Until about nine months ago, the dream was to create a general line of stationery in the very distant future. Then, I had a flash of inspiration while getting ready to go to sleep. I could visualize my first designs. It was crazy exciting (an understatement!). I sketched these visions onto scrap paper and tucked them into my journal. These sketches were the triggers that began the forward momentum. The sketches made this dream more tangible. I now knew the product I wanted to create and was determined to figure the rest out.
Share the Dream
It’s not always necessary to share your crazy wild dream with someone else. For me, I needed to go over this dream with my husband. I showed him the sketches and shared the general concept. Then, I asked him repeatedly, “Is this crazy?” “Should I go for it?” I was full of uncertainty and wanted to be sure that he also believed in this dream (he did and does!). Most importantly, we then needed to crunch some numbers to determine how much we could safely invest into this project without going into our savings. With a target budget created*, we came to the decision that it was GO TIME! YIPPEE!
* I love numbers but am horrible with budgets and creating financial models. I also know nothing about the world of retail and the different costs involved. While I could have spent an incredible amount of time learning the ins and outs of the stationery business, I decided that since this is still a little dream (and not my full time job) that I would try my best to connect with the right people who could help me along the way. For the financial side of this little paper dream, I knew my husband was the best person for the job. I have appointed him Chief Financial Paper Dream Guru. He also has a lot of experience in retail so that knowledge comes in handy when thinking through the details of producing a product and then figuring out the best methods for selling this product. For the ins and outs of the stationery business, I turned to Carolynn of Two Brunettes. I adore Carolynn and have worked with her for years on both personal and professional projects. She can read my mind which is a pretty amazing talent. Carolynn is helping me navigate this process (lots of hand holding) and really making the experience more enjoyable than I ever imagined.
In the next report, I’ll share more information about this process and where we are in the design/production. I’ll also continue to share any resources that I find helpful as I navigate this unknown territory. I don’t have a “launch date” yet but am hoping for this summer. My first line will consist of four designs (likely sold separately as well as in a set). The collection will be small so I’ll probably set up a pre-order form in the near future so you can reserve cards before they are released.
What I Need Help With
As I move through this process, I’m learning that there is so much that I will need help with! I’m going to flex my “ask for help” muscles in these reports. If you know someone or are someone that could possibly help with an item below, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, “Little Paper Dream.”
=> Virtual Assistant to help manage this project. Super organized, Loves paper, Some experience related to a similar project would be a plus, Loves learning and Self-Starter.
=> Product Stylist to work with me to create the vision I have in mind for the product photo-shoot. If the stylist and photographer work together in the US (but not in Miami), I am willing to travel for the photo-shoot.
=> Photographer to work with me and product stylist to create product images and look-book.
=> Product Launch Consultant to help launch my little paper dream to the right people.
… Feeling: I’m feeling pretty vulnerable and scared. I know I can’t do this on my own and hope that I find the right people to help make this dream a reality. I am fearful that I won’t find these right people and I’ll get stuck at the finish line. Of course, I also fear that no one will like these cards and I won’t be able to convey what makes these cards truly special and different from what is available. While these feelings are lurking within, I am fueled forward with each new step I take (like sharing this report).
… What I Know: I will make this dream a reality. There may be a few more bumps than I would like but each bump will contain new knowledge.
images: top image by katie rodgers (paperfashionshop on etsy) [pin top image --> ], bottom image by carolyn [pin lower image--> ]