The Path to Creative Entrepreneurship
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Everybody's Got a Back Story. Mine involves Stationery, Gifts, and Lots of Color and Pattern!
I have a lot of people ask me how in the world did you end up here ("here" meaning, an attorney who represents creatives, and "here" meaning as an entrepreneur and fellow creative). Good questions. Let's just say that mathematics rule, the one about the shortest distance between two points is a straight line? Yeah, that rule was not intuitive for me. #LOL. It has been a journey of twists and turns, and rabbit holes, and sprints, and marathons, and dead ends, and U-turns, and I'm still going.
So the year was 2002, I had just given birth to our first child. She is a lovely young lady now who is a jewelry designer; she is working toward expanding her brand called Tempie Jane. Anyway, I was at home with her, and practicing law was out (that's another story for another day. I feel like I say that a lot). Again, I digress. While at home, taking care of her, I began dabbling with my husband's Adobe programs. See, my husband has not only one but two design degrees.
I would start a design, totally mess things up, delete, rinse and repeat. I was under no pressure, so I let myself just explore and learn. Over the course of that year I had managed to teach myself how to use the program, pretty well I might add. I was pretty proud of myself, but nobody else even knew that I had this brewing, really. I didn't tell anyone because what was I going to do? Start a business?
Until one day in August 2003, everything changed. I had been invited to a birthday luncheon for a friend. "No Gifts Please." Well, where I am from that means "nothing too nice, but of course you can bring something or at the very least a card." So 30 minutes before the luncheon, I STILL didn't have a gift. Then I thought, I could just print out some of those calling cards I designed and give those to my friend. Those weren't too nice, but it was something. And of course, she won't open her presents at the luncheon because what if someone didn't bring a gift, that would make them feel bad, right? HA! Wrong!
Lunch was lovely. There were about 20 of us, and we had the best time talking, laughing, listening and carrying on. Then things went south, real fast. All of a sudden someone said, "Hey, why don't you open your gifts!" And the birthday girl replied, "Okay, sure!" WHAT??!! That goes against all the etiquette and manners genes that have every been handed down to me. Why would you do that? How rude! I've got to go? Where am I going? Maybe she won't open mine. Maybe she will open it last. I'm in big trouble now. Up a creek without a paddle. All of these thoughts were racing through my head at the speed of light all while my hands were sweating, my face was turning twenty shades of red, and my stomach was in knots. Not exactly the vision of cool, calm, and collected.
"Here, open this one first." I turned just in time to see my gift bag with the raffia ribbon exchanging hands, and I thought I was going to die! Let me hit the pause button right there....
See none of this sounds like that big of a deal. But as an attorney, it is almost beat into you during your law school years that you cannot look like you don't know something or don't know how to do something. You can't lose your cool, and you cannot look vulnerable. So putting something creative out to 20 women who didn't even know I had a creative bone in my body felt like I was completely exposed, if you know what I mean.
So I watched almost with one eye closed as the birthday girl opened her present and she freaked. I thought, "Oh Lord, where is the door; I'm gonna be sick!" And in that same instant she squealed and asked, "Who is this from?" I raised by hand, and suddenly there was chatter-- a la Music Man "cheap-a-little-talk-a-little, cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap cheap."
"Where did you get those?"
"I made them."
"WHAAAAT, you MADE them?"
Too late, I was on the hook now. "Yes, I made them."
"Well, what other designs do you have?"
"Um, I-I don't...."
"How much are they?"
"Well I want 2 sets, no make it 3...I'll write you a check now"
And it went on. I sold 5 orders that day. Each person bought multiple designs, which I had not even designed yet. I made up a price on the spot and delivered the goods the next week. THAT's where Hype Strype began.
Over the next 10 years we grew to a 7 figure business, selling to over 2000 retail stores in 44 states, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.