We’re currently in the middle of an awesome giveaway from On a Good Note Designs. There’s still time for you to enter to win a pack of pretty stationery. All you have to do is leave a comment here (at the bottom of the post) OR tweet me OR email me (email@example.com) and tell me which of the On A Good Note designs you like the best. That automatically enters you into the contest. Pretty simple, right? Don’t forget that you’ll also get a 10% discount on all On A Good Note stationery/notecards from now until January 18th when you use the coupon LIFEWITHLAUREN. Badass.
I love On a Good Note because the stuff is unique, fun, and adorable. But I also love that the company is run by Sarah, who graduated in May from DePauw University. I want to be an entrepreneur someday, and I think it’s awesome that she is wasting no time running her own business. Who says you have to wait around to find your perfect job after college? If you have something you love to do, make it happen! I got a little advice and information from Sarah about the company and her own experience with running her own business.
There were two main factors that led me to start On A Good Note: the job market and an obsession with paper and stationery.
I graduated in May from DePauw University in Indiana and my initial job search was less than productive. My parents have had a small business my entire life and I always felt that at some point in time I would likely pursue entrepreneurship. I even had tons of pretend businesses as a kid that I would play after school (my most successful was Sarah’s Bridals, a wedding coordinating business) *Lauren note: I used to do this too! Except I would run a pretend record label and would “direct” music videos for pop stars…* I didn’t think I would do it immediately following graduation, but I didn’t have anything to lose. I had always loved stationery and I played around with designing cards over the summer. So, I decided to run with it, mainly as something to do while still looking for a job.
I admit that I do still look for job opportunities for two reasons: 1) it would be really great to have another more social work environment that would allow me to utilize some of my other interests and skills, and 2) On a Good Note is still very young and therefore very small. That doesn’t mean it won’t ever grow to a point where it will be very successful, and it’s something I know I will continue on the side even if I do end up with a good job opportunity. It’s a creative outlet that I enjoy and has lots of potential.
My favorite thing is flexibility. I can create a schedule that allows me to pursue other dreams on the side. I have always been a writer (I have a degree in English Writing) and a journalist, so doing this is an opportunity to still make those a part of my life. I should also say, though, that it isn’t perfect, and attempting to run a business successfully sometimes means working in the evenings or on the weekends. But, a lot of times I WANT to do so. If you really like what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work all that much.
The flexibility is also nice for doing things like meeting a friend for lunch or knowing that I can arrange things to be able to attend some type of event. For example, Bill Clinton just spoke at my university in November and I was able to go back for that. I might not have been able to do so otherwise.
That’s a tough choice! But I think I’ll always love the You’re a Hoot owl cards and the Thank You Boxes because they were two of my first designs and I was very proud when I finished them.
Most of my designs are inspired by my friends’ various styles and my own tastes. After graduation we started writing letters a lot more, which I highly recommend to other recent graduates as a fun and meaningful way to keep in touch. Several friends complained that it was hard to find cards that didn’t say “Thank You” on them or that they felt were fun to send for a note hello. There are a lot of note cards that are good for professional purposes, cards with monograms or very formal and elegant looking designs. Those are important to have, as well, but we wanted something more fun. I try to fill that void. I like to think that my cards, particularly the original set of designs (For the Record, With Sprinkles on Top, You’re a Hoot, etc.) reflect a quirky style that’s youthful and amusing and could be appreciated by a variety of people. That’s what I feel makes On a Good Note stand out.
As I mentioned, my friends have been a really big source of inspiration whether they realize it or not. I’ve tried to design something with each of them in mind. For example, Dino Love is for my friend Ellen, who is always great at drawing silly pictures of dinosaurs. For the Record is for my friend Ann, who aspires to work in the music industry and currently interns at an independent record label. My friends are also great at telling me what types of products–not just designs–they are looking for, so I’m running with their suggestions to release in the future.
In addition to my friends, my great-grandmother’s quilts are really inspirational. They were handmade in the 1950s and I have always LOVED studying the different fabrics she used. The 1950s Floral and 1950s Flowers cards were inspired by fabric on the the quilt on my bed, and they also tap into the retro look trend. I admit I was also in a bit of a Mad Men phase and went through all four seasons in about a month when I was designing those.
I also find inspiration in magazines, whether through the magazine’s own design or the products they feature.
The product starts with a dauntingly blank canvas in Adobe Illustrator. Sometimes I go in with an exact idea of what I want to make. Other times I just play around until I stumble on something interesting, a process that can be relaxing and engrossing. Once I have something I like, I save it in PDF form and print out a sample to see how it looks. Most often I have to make adjustments until I get something just right. Once I have a final sample I photograph it, upload the picture to Etsy, write a brief little copy blurb, post the listing, then share the link of the new design to the On a Good Note Twitter and Facebook accounts. I currently print orders as they come in. Right now I am in the process of shifting my printing from home to a local printer, which will not only save me time but will help to further increase the quality of my product–which is always a good thing!
Isn’t the story and the thought behind On a Good Note inspirational? Love it! Now go enter the contest so you can have some stationery from this fabulous business.