When I was first starting out with my business, I would frequent different design blogs for inspiration and guidance on the industry. I’m lucky to be in Brooklyn with so many other talented designers. Being part of that community was amazing but it’s still tough going solo! I thought it’d be fun to share some tips on getting started in the stationery industry today. Now, I’m certainly no expert and am always learning more and more as each day passes, but below are a few things I’ve picked up over the last few years that might help inspire some of the young talent out there! – Courtney of Swiss Cottage Designs
1. Have a plan: I know this sounds pretty basic and obvious but it’s surprisingly challenging. Decide what your end game is and how you want to get there. It’s so easy to get distracted and quickly drawn off course which is why it’s important to identify your strengths that set you apart and then really make them work for you. Once you’ve established the big picture of where you’re headed, you can start to hone in on smaller details and little side projects. It’s certainly easy to get overwhelmed by everything, but I’ve found having a solid plan and really sticking to it helped me greatly in the early days.
2. Reach out & ask for help: Don’t feel like you have to do it all on your own. When I made the decision to go out on my own, I reached out to other designers in the area who were all were so incredibly helpful and supportive. Their amazing work and kind words inspired me even more to pursue my goal. A community is key! I’ve met some great friends this way. It’s fun to chat with people who understand what you’re going through and who have been there themselves. Also, ask for help! I used to think staying up late and trying to do everything myself was me hustling, when in fact it was the exact opposite! I was tired all the time and burning out at a rapid pace. Have friends and family help you in the beginning and when you get more established, hire help! It makes everything so much better.
3. Have the resources: Nailing down vendors and resources ahead of time is big. It’s important to have vendors who you can trust and that you work well with. With the paper industry, your printer becomes your best friend. Also, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify and have different vendors for different items and timelines. I find that keeping my options open helps alleviate stress! I really love working with local vendors which is why we get most of our goods right here in New York City. Any extra bits and bobs we try to source off small Etsy shops.
4. Expect to make mistakes: As much as we all wish we were perfect, we ain’t. Believe me you when I say, expect to make mistakes! Nothing makes your stomach drop like seeing a typo on your final printed pieces. Oye! But it happens. It’s how you handle the mistake that will make you better. Take a deep breath and then focus on the solution. There’s no going back in time, so it’s best to keep your eye on the prize and keep moving forward.
5. Know Your Audience: You can’t appeal to everyone, it’s just not possible. Know the kind of clients and customers you want to appeal to and cater to them. I’m not very traditional, so I know requests for a more classic style of work aren’t always in my wheelhouse. Every time I try to create work like that, I always come up short. That’s why it’s best to know what you do well, stick to it, and trust that the rest will fall into place.
Photo Credits: Swiss Cottage Designs