Guest Post: Thoughts for Other Moms Running a Business

I’ve asked some of my favorite creative mamas to help out while I’m away with our new baby. Today, the wonderful Erin Austen Abbott of Amelia shares some thoughts on running a business as a mom! Thanks Erin! –Nole

As moms, we always have to think two steps ahead. What will my child need when we leave the house? Will they need to eat while we are out and about? Etc… You are always thinking about the next step. I apply the same thought process to running my business AND raising a small child. –Erin


I organize my life as I would a diaper bag, as silly as that sounds. Each pocket, filled with what will be needed next. I plan my days around my son’s schedule and I got him on a schedule so that we would all know what was coming next. He knows what his day entails therefore we have less meltdowns. Being two is probably a bit scary I imagine, but he pretty much always knows what’s coming next, which means he doesn’t have to worry. This means that I can work in the most time with him and also be the most productive for my business.

I write it all down… I make to do lists daily and I also make a weekly list, so that I always know what is coming next, then I move those things to my daily list as they need to happen. I stay away from weekly calendars and only use a monthly calendar, so I can see what’s coming in two weeks, three weeks, etc… I don’t let things sneak up on me, just like my two year old always knowing his schedule…. less meltdowns to fix.

I get to school drop off and pick up a little early so that I can send emails or look over what I need to do for the next few days. If you stay ahead, then you never feel frantic and if you do get behind, you aren’t really getting behind…. just in line with where you need to be.

People ask me all the time how do you juggle so much and my answer is always the same… organization. Always thinking ahead to what you will need next and planning accordingly. In business, you know what you will need next, just plan for it. If you work with fabrics, have a spot in the roll that tells you when you need to reorder. Work with paper? Have a sheet in the stack that tells you when to reorder, rather then running out and then reordering and getting behind in your turn around to your customers. That’s why I package up online orders the day they come in and mail out them just as quickly. I don’t want to get behind.

Staying organized allows me to take off on Saturday and Sunday and just spend it with my family. If I need to do some work on those days, I save it for when my son is napping. I don’t pretend to have it all together and get it all done, all the time. Email is a black hole to me, but I’m trying to get better about answering faster. Like with a child, you pick your battles.

For those of you that work from home while juggling a child (kudos by the way), I can’t stress this enough… have your own space. Have an office space that isn’t a catch all, but an actual real space. Convert a closet if you have to, but have a place that you sit and work daily, that is all yours. I don’t think you will be as productive if you just have a little pile of work here and more stashed there.

Create office hours for yourself, even if it’s an hour here, four hours there. Do what you need to do during those office hours so that you can play with your family the rest of the time. Maybe you have a helper come watch your children two days a week and you pack it all in to those two days. It all counts, but set those hours. You and your business will be glad you did.

Hello Brick & Mortar: Packaging for Retail

I judge books by their covers, wine by its label and brands by their logos. I know the good stuff is on the inside, but I could ogle good packaging all day and have been known to buy things for reasons far divorced from utility. (I’d guess I’m not alone in this crowd.) Packaging may not seem like the sexiest topic, but good packaging is an invitation to purchase, and that’s an invitation we want to extend. –Emily of Clementine

Hello Brick + Mortar by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

First, the golden rule of retail packaging: They’re going to try to open it anyway. I know, you wrote “blank inside.” Customers will still look at me and ask “is it blank inside?” while opening the cellophane. I know, it’s sealed with a sticker. They will carefully peal back the sticker and reach for the card. I know, you labeled what’s inside and drew a little picture on the back showing the 6 different cards in a card set. Maybe they’ll ask me to open it. Why? I think it’s human nature. If you close something, people want to open it. Especially if it’s pretty. But let’s see if we can make your packaging something customers want to open, but instead choose to purchase and wait until they get home to break into. How? 90% of it is simple show & tell.

1. Tell them what’s inside. Pretty basic, but I receive a lot of beautiful, poorly labeled stationery. Is it a flat card? Is it blank inside? Is it a card set? How many card are in the set? Are they all the same or different? How big is that print? Is it a sticker or a mini-note? What’s it for….? I watch customers fumble through unclear packaging every day. Often, I can interrupt a quizzical look to explain what’s inside, but if I don’t, she’s stranded and will put it back down. If you don’t know what to include, try calling a friend and describing what the product looks like. Then find a well designed way to say the same thing. (Where? My vote is usually on the back. Unless you can make it work with the image.)

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

J. Falkner’s Perfect Little Notes use paper bands to tell what’s inside without interfering with the product. The bands are a slight deterrent for customers to open the box and allow retailers to slip the band off for a photo, and put it back on for customers. Win/win!

2. Show them what’s inside. In your online shops, you can clearly photograph and explain. In person, your packaging must speak for the contents. Unless you are packaging a single card or print that is clearly visible, you need to show what’s inside (with a photo, a great good drawing or innovative packaging). Every time customers pick up a box of cards, they’re asking “what’s inside? Answering this clearly increases the likelihood that your product will sell. (Where should you put this information? My vote is for the back if it’s a card/set/calendar or smack in the middle if it’s a tube.)

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Albertine Press letterpress library is one of the few products, I (happily) display without cellophane. The spine tells what’s inside and a quick flip open reveals the cards. The packaging itself feels like a gift and looks beautiful displayed in multiples.

3. Extend your branding. The cost of packaging increases the price of your products, but don’t make it a throwaway purchase. Good packaging makes your product feel like a gift, and if done well, can make an indelible mark that the customer returns to.


Scout’s Honor Paper packages her prints in stiff craft sleeves with a strong branded stamp on the front and back that tells the print name and size. Though she totally breaks my rule of showing what’s inside, I can easily take one print out to display and house the extras behind. 

4. Packaging should keep it together and look great. Do you want the parade of horribles? I’ve had cello sleeves crumple or split as customers shove cards back in; stiff cello boxes that pop open; sealed small notes that aren’t affixed within the package so they jumble, but I can’t adjust them without damaging the package; prints with crumpled corners after being dropped; boxes that obscure the card design; gorgeous prints, postcards and tea towels that no one buys because they have no idea what’s inside; closure stickers that pop open more than they stick; belly bands that come unstuck and end up all over the floor; twine that frays and looks frumpy; calendars and prints with no backing that slide to the floor; products that fade in the window; and (through fault of my own) a cello box or two melted each winter due to radiator proximity. Those horribles are not so horrible, but these are costs that retailers absorb, if a product remains poorly packaged we won’t take the risk. You can’t always avoid these pitfalls, but you can mitigate by simply using the packaging yourself: pack your product up, throw the box around, unpack it and leave it on a table for a few weeks. See which of your items still shine, and adjust the rest.

5. There’s no right answer. When in doubt, reach out to a retailer you trust or hop into your favorite store and see what’s working. You should decide on the packaging you want, but here are some considerations:

  • Single Cards – Cellophane sleeves are a must. I’m torn on whether a sleeve with the fold over seal is preferable. A little sticker on the back can tell the customer if the card is flat or folded, how big it is and whether the card is blank inside.
  • Card Sets – Card sets are the slowest sellers. I think they’re also the most vaguely labeled. You can only show one card on the front, but you can show and tell on the back of the box. How many cards are in there? Are they all the same (if not, please include a label with a photo or drawing), what color is the envelope? Tying it with twine can look pretty or obstruct your image. Stickers can make a pretty seal but the occasional customer that ignores the sticker’s purpose and opens it, leaves me with a damaged product.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Moglea’s vibrant packaging shows both envelope and note, while the sticker draws your eye from the front to the back of the box where you learn the details of what’s inside!


The cute peephole on the back of this card set from Blackbird Letterpress invites the customer to look closer while communicating basic info about this card set.

  • Tiny notes, gift tags, book plates, recipe cards  These things don’t often get much respect in a retail setting because they’re little and often confuse the customer. They benefit from super clear packaging, and a bit of personality to invite the customer to pick them up.



Emily McDowell draws people in with words alone. By the time customers read what her notes say, they’re already sold on the sentiment, with little need to even know the function.


  • Pads of paper, journals & notebooks – You guys, wars could be started over whether a notebook should have lined or unlined pages. Let the customer know upfront. Also, let them know how many pages are in there. Cello sleeves help keep the corners neat and the pages clean.
  • Prints – Customers often buy prints for gifts or quick decor, so including the dimensions is crucial. A sturdy piece of cardboard lets retailers display the print safely. Prints packaged in tubes are the most difficult to sell. I often have large prints professionally framed, but if the framed print sells, we’re back to the tube. A large color sticker is the best way to show what’s inside.
  • Calendars – Customers who are on a calendar hunt want the days to be in boxes, customers who fall in love with your designs don’t care! Either way, it’s nice to show the customer whether or not there are boxes and display each month on the back (customers want to see their birth month, it’s often what sells them.) Like prints, a sturdy piece of cardboard is helpful for display and protection. I see a lot of dual purpose calendars these days (eg, once used, each month can be a print!) I love this idea, but make sure it’s clear so the customer knows they’re getting two uses for the price.
  • Coasters – Coasters are one item where the packaging might be saved for storage, so this can be a great chance to extend your brand into a customer’s home.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful PaperRifle Paper Co’s coasters are packaged in boxes that make adorable storage for any other little thing. It’s a perfect extension of branding and makes the packing bridge into extended use.

  • Tea Towels – Tea towels are almost always displayed folded. To prevent constant unfolding, a nice wide belly band with an image of the opened towel can help. (Bonus: offer to send a sample to display if your retailer buys a certain quantity.)
  • Temporary tattoos – Temporary tattoos are often shared, or used as party favors, so people want to know how many they’re getting. I also think they look better on the body, so a photo of them in action is a super plus.


Tattly’s packing shows the products on (uh, adorable) models, then the back manages to be fun while describing exactly what’s inside.

  • All other beauties – You makers are so darn prolific, I can’t even keep up with all of the areas that you’re branching into, so I’ll leave you with something simple: let the product speak for itself. Let it guide the packaging and be ok with being simple. Sometimes, that’s the best approach.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

I’m utterly blown away by the beauty created by mixing the talents of Angela Liguori and Maybelle Imasa Stukuls. All I want to know is more about this ribbon, and Angela’s simple spool and clear font on a card give me just that. 

The final golden rule of packaging is this: if you have an innovative idea, go for it. All of this is open to your interpretation. I don’t like cello sleeves, but I’m pimping them out here because it’s the current best solution to selling cards. If you have a better idea, please, go on. As long as your packaging shows and tells what’s inside, you’re meeting your retailers’ needs. If you can make it inventive and even more fun, you’re taking a step further to extend your brand and build a relationship with your retailers and customers.

Search outside of the stationery world for ideas. When I need a bit of inspiration (like how to finish up this post) I pull a collection of items from Clementine to see where themes emerge. I love the packaging below for all kinds of reasons: font, color, utility. Mostly, because it draws you a step closer to the product, making the customer one step closer to falling in love and taking it home.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Just another day in the shop, lost down a rabbit-hole of the beauty you all make via my Instagram.

I can’t wait to see what you pack up next! xoxoxo – Emily

Guest Post: A Day in the Life with Liz from Linda & Harriett

I’ve asked some of my favorite creative mamas to help out while I’m away with our new baby. Today we get a look behind the scenes at a day in the life of one of my favorite stationers – and mama of two – Liz from Linda & Harriett! –Nole

Liz Libre Artist and Founder of Linda and Harriett

Photo by Kristin Gladney

6:15 am
Wake up to take our dog for a run in the park. I hear Griffin singing to himself in his room, so I go in & ask him if he wants to watch Arthur while I go for my run. Of course he says yes! This way, he won’t wake up my husband John for at least another 28 minutes, and won’t be too bummed (at all, really) that I’m leaving. He still asks for a kiss & a hug – and lately has been pretty fierce with both which makes my heart swell.

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7:30 am
Back from my run and find John, Griffin and Louise all eating breakfast. Get ready for the day. For some reason, the morning is the one time of day where it doesn’t even occur to me to look at email, texts or Instagram. The rest of day, not so much.

9 am
Griffin’s preschool hasn’t started yet, so I leave for work a bit later, once our beloved nanny arrives. Always with an iced coffee in tow. It’s supposed to be 90 degrees today!


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9:30 am
At the studio and write seven cards to go with the seven care packages I’m mailing to Sweden today – to thank John’s aunts and cousins for hosting us for a week this summer. I’m sending them all the L&H Seasonal Card Box Set, one of my favorite gifts to give. John’s aunt & uncle who hosted us the whole time (and even gave us their bed!) is also getting two mugs & kitchen towels from More & Co., my favorite online shop for buying gifts.

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10 am
My assistant Sarah is busy fulfilling orders. We have our big 25% off sale this week, so it’s busy around here. Our USPS guy is on vacation and we’re trying to figure out how to get these out, since scheduling a pickup doesn’t seem to be working. Our building neighbor, Tattly, nicely offers to send their USPS woman up to us. And it works! Phew!

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10:15 am
Call with Dara from Simply Framed, the online frame shop we’ve partnered with for our new prints. They do such a fantastic job & I’m thrilled to be working with them to offer my customers high quality framing. Dara is working on a project and has asked me to get involved. I love her energy and am fueled by it.

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11:15 am
Emailing a lot! We’re trying to find a new studio space because our current building in Dumbo isn’t renewing leases. I’ve been looking for four months and finally found the right one. So I’m going back and forth a lot right now with the sales rep as well as my husband – who, thankfully, is way more real estate savvy than I am (and also thankfully has a ton of patience for me being way less savvy). Fingers crossed it works out!


12:00 pm
A text comes through from Molly at Chairloom. It’s a photo of a love seat she’s just reupholstered in the custom textile design I did for her – an Alexander Calder inspired Philadelphia print. A pretty thrilling moment to see it come to life! I text her back immediately with lots of high five and praise emojis, and then secretly send it to a few family and friends who I know will appreciate it. I share it with my assistant Sarah. We’re both excited.

12:15 pm
Lunch at my desk. Open faced sandwich: (always open face – which to me feels like I get two sandwiches!) sourdough with avocado, sea salt and cheddar. It’s easy & never fails to the spot. Siggis yogurt. Seltzer. This is the one time during the day at the studio where I check my favorite sites, like Oh So Beautiful Paper :) or Cup of Jo or NY Magazine. Because I like to be home with my kids in the morning and evening, my time at the studio is limited, so I try to stay focused on work while I’m there.

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12:45 pm
Finally sit down with my brush, ink & lots of paper — my staples. I have been silently working on a big project that will debut next year, and I am trying to develop as much work as possible for upcoming meetings with my partner. I did some drawings today that made my heart race (like literally beat faster – no joke) which is always a good sign and motivates me to keep at it.

4:15 pm
Leave studio early to take Griffin on a play date. School hasn’t started yet, and it’s not often that he & I have one on one time anymore, so I jump at the chance when my friend asks if we want to come over. She whips up a batch of kale chips while our kids build garages out of magna tiles and throw airplanes around the room. On the way home, I feel grateful for the flexibility to do this this afternoon.

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6:30 pm
Return home to hear hip hop blaring from the bathroom where John is giving Louise a bath. This is a common bath time ritual for John. He loves all kinds of music and plays it during bath time on a portable speaker, so it can get pretty loud. Because of these bath time sing-a-longs, Griffin can now accurately identify images of Bob Marley and Toots & the Maytals.

7:30 pm
Our kids are generally pretty good at going to bed, which allows us some nice down time. Tonight, we order in Indian food, which despite the 85 degree heat, we’re both craving and haven’t had in months. While we wait for it, we clean up a bit and then hop on our laptops. I see an email from the sales office of the new studio to say that our application has been approved – hooray! One step closer to a new space.


8:30 pm
I shamelessly find watching tv to be a great way to wind down, (maybe with a glass of wine too!) but we have been in a funk lately. Orange is the New Black, House of Cards – we need to get on it! John suffers through a DVR’d episode of the RHONY Reunion show with me, which is pretty bad, but pretty good. But pretty bad. Buuuut, pretty good. I take this welcomed brainless time to look over our calendar for the fall and put some deadlines in place for work. I can’t function without a deadline on the Google Calendar. I also place an order with — my go-to source for all our baby & household needs. I even buy my fancy mascara through them! I don’t know what I would do without online shopping. It’s pretty much this working mom’s dream come true.

10 pm
I love reading magazines through Next Issue on my iPad every night before bed. Tonight I read the Obsession with Foxcatcher in New York Magazine, and it has me excited to see the movie – which takes place near where I grew up.

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10:45 pm
Reading before bed always makes me so sleepy. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thanks for having me, Nole!

Top Photo by Kristin Gladney; all others by Liz Libré of Linda & Harriett

Pretty Paper in the Office: Rubber Stamps

As much as I’d love to buy all the pretty papers I see for my workspace, the truth is I have more than enough paper lying around. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun! I’ve put together a round up of some handy helpers in the office: rubber stamps. You can get stamp happy and create  your own calendars, checklists, even postcards!  – Julie
Pretty Paper in the Office: Rubber Stamp Round Up via Oh So Beautiful Paper

No. 1 Mizushima Calendar Stamp from Amazon; No. 2 Postcard rubber stamp from Hobby Lobby; No. 3 Vintage rubber wheel stamp from Etsy; No. 4 Graph rubber stamps from Present&Correct; No. 5 Please Deliver To stamp by Wit & Whistle; No. 6 Checklist rubber stamp from Paper Source

{images via their respective sources}

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! After a big week of recap posts, I’m ready for a nice and relaxing weekend – or as relaxing as possible with an active toddler around the house. This weekend we’re hoping to take Sophie to pick strawberries for the very first time! She has been very interested in the tiny potted plants in our back yard, so an entire field of strawberries should be a big hit. I’ll be back to share the last few recaps from this year’s National Stationery Show next week, but in the meantime…


The Etsy Wholesale lounge at Paper Party 2014 – one of my favorite parts of the evening! // Photo by Charlie Juliet Photography

…a few links for your weekend!

This week on Oh So Beautiful Paper:

Check back soon for this week’s cocktail! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week! xoxo