In late July, Natalie Chang and I hosted the second annual Stationery Academy: A Business and Branding Workshop for Paper-Preneurs. It could be more aptly titled to be a workshop for any creative entrepreneur that has even an inkling of an interest in design, personalization, or printing. The best summary of the workshop is that it’s not all about stationery, as many of this year’s attendees would tell you.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a workshop junkie. If I can afford the flight, the time away, and the workshop itself, I’m THERE. The smaller the workshop, the better. Stationery Academy seems to be the perfect size at about 25 attendees. This year, we jam packed the entire two and a half days with non-stop business and branding information. So much material, and so much monogrammed swag, that I’d have to say that we’ll have to figure out how to better edit the content for time next year. Hands down, though, my favorite part about Stationery Academy (or StatAcad, as I now lovingly refer to it around our house), is that I love getting to be able to hear from each of the attendees, and get to know each of them a little bit better.
As each attendee checked in, we had a little welcome bucket for them, full of snacks and a few little swag goodies. The event kicked off with a cocktail party on Thursday evening, where we were served our signature cocktail, the Pantone 305. Seriously. Natalie color matched the drink to a Pantone swatch to make sure we were spot-on. How brilliant is that? Appetizers served as a yummy, light dinner, and we captured a group photo, thanks to Meg Baisden Photography and her precious husband, Charles.
The next day started bright and early with a light breakfast (and coffee!!) before we launched into presentations discussing the WHY behind a strong brand strategy, and went around the room with a few questions. I love this portion of the workshop, because it allows each attendee to open up a little bit, and see that they are UNIQUE and that’s AWESOME. There are usually a few tears, because sometimes opening up means admitting that you don’t have it all together–but come on, NO ONE HAS IT ALL TOGETHER. The first morning of the workshop was a safe place for me. I love being able to relate to other creative entrepreneurs on that turf.
That afternoon, we touched on creating a powerful client experience, and tried to get everyone’s wheels turning about different ways they could communicate their brand’s value through different touchpoints. Amber Housley did a fabulous job talking to us about how she defined her ideal client, and different things that she does when working with her clients. Amber’s sincerity and drive has been an incredible encouragement to me this year. She is truly a cheerleader for creative entrepreneurs, and I can’t thank her enough for sharing her heart with us at Stationery Academy!
Natalie did an incredible job of making sure we had a menu and place cards at every meal. We made it our goal to simply slather the attendees with monogrammed everything, and so we passed out monogrammed water bottles after lunch on day one. And what’s a stationery get-together without a business card swap? Natalie sorted all the cards into charming little turquoise chevron goodie bags.
The first day ended with a delicious dinner, sponsored by the National Stationery Show. We spent the better part of dinner time conversation talking about our ambitions in stationery, and almost everyone wanted to attend the National Stationery Show. Several already had, and I know I’ll see some more of our Stationery Academy alumni at NSS next year!
The next morning after breakfast we dove into really talking about the stationery industry. There are so many options for how to build a stationery brand in today’s day and age, and Natalie and I openly shared our experiences in the creative world over the past decade. We talked wholesale, retail, e-commerce, printables, licensing–you name it, we covered it!
At that point, Rachel Shingleton of Pencil Shavings Studio stepped in and covered Etsy strategies. Rachel was AWESOME. Super informative, and she’d even gone the extra mile to get some other Etsy experts to contribute content for the attendees! After that we started to touch on different systems and processes, creative workflows, and Amber shared with us again on her experience in marketing and how to do a brand launch! Rachel then shared some of her social media strategies for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Emily McCarthy of Emma J Design and Twist Paper helped us wrap it all up with her tips on brand styling. Emily has a knack for helping brands create authentic, fresh, unique and bold visual identities. Her insights were priceless!
The event concluded with another fabulous dining experience created by Natalie Chang. Navy and white striped table linens perfectly complemented Lilly Pulitzer picture frames, menus, and hand-glittered and hand-calligraphied place cards.
It would be impossible for me to blog about Stationery Academy without telling a little story. At some point during the workshop, someone made a joke about Stationery Academy tattoos. It was a total joke, out of the blue. What no one knew was that Natalie travels with personalization equipment of all kinds, and in this instance, just happened to have a temporary tattoo machine with her. It was with great delight that we presented the attendees each with their own StatAcad temporary tattoo, gifted in a charming glassine bag.
Pictured above, clockwise from top left: 1) me with Garrett from Cercies, 2) Amber Housley and Jessica Bishop, 3) Nicolle Spitulnik and me, 4) Jenn Sprinkle, Amber Housley and Jennifer Faught. None of this would be possible without the women who attended Stationery Academy. Most of them wrote blog recaps. You can check out their stories by clicking below:
- Erin Thomas from Between The Sheets Co.
- Whitney Murray from Whitney Lauren Creative
- Emily McCarthy from Emma J Design and Twist Paper
- Kathy Sanders from Tickled Peach Studio
- Marianne Mandrell from Quad Deuce Design
- Jessica Bishop from Savvy Bride and Jessica Bishop Paperie
- Sara Moore from Lulu Bean Designs
- Beth Hart from Beth Hart Designs
- Rachel Shingleton from Pencil Shavings Studio blogged it TWICE: here and here!
- Jennifer Faught from Something Detailed
- Penny Sampler from Tippie Toads
- Jenn Sprinkle from Jenn Sprinkle
- Amber Housley from Amber Housley
On that note, if you have the bug to attend Stationery Academy 2013, save the dates of August 22 – 24! Stationery Academy will be held in Dallas, Texas, with details to come soon!