Business, Chasing Dreams Interview Series

Chasing Dreams: Starting a Product Line {An Interview with Jo at Things By Bean} + A GIVEAWAY!

October 1, 2014
Things by Bean

This interview is part of the Chasing Dreams interview series. I’ve interviewed a variety of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have chosen a different path in life in order to go after his or her dream career. Have an entrepreneur in mind you’d like to learn more about? Let me know!

Today’s interview is with my friend Jo, creative mastermind and owner of the fun greeting card company, Things by Bean. Jo is one of my favorite people EVER, and will be one of yours too. She may be an Aussie now, but you can still find her cards stocked in the US at Urban Outfitters and now Whole Foods Market!  {OR buy them online, of course!}

Read on to learn about her journey in starting a business and how she stays inspired. Also, don’t miss the giveaway instructions at the end! Enter for a chance to win 5 popular greeting cards from Things by Bean.

Fun Greeting Card Collage

*Not the exact cards in giveaway

 

At what point did you know you wanted to follow this career path? How did you know this was the right direction?

It came on really gradually. I made birthday cards by hand when I was a kid and all through high school. Eventually, I got more card ideas than I could make, so I started filling a notebook with the one-liners. And when that notebook got full, I decided to launch a greeting card line! I know it was right purely from the creative satisfaction I got from a completed design. Nothing feels better than getting your idea out of your brain and into the world!

What are the biggest struggles you’ve faced while trying to achieve your dreams?

Definitely the sales aspect of running your own business. I’m a pretty social person but I get super weird about approaching someone for the sole purpose of selling to them. But I’ve finally (sorta, mostly, I think) gotten over that by constantly reminding myself that shop owners want to stock cool stuff and make cool money from them.

Owning your own business can be tough on the body and mind, between long days, instability and really putting yourself out there to reach your goals. How do you stay healthy? Do you have any rituals that help you stay centered?

Anyone who goes from a stable 9-5 job to working for yourself will go through an adjustment period. It took me about six months to get used to the benefits as well as the struggles. The benefits for me are having time to exercise every day and cook healthy lunches and dinners; those two things have made a huge difference to my health, physically and mentally. The struggles mostly revolve around the sporadic nature of self-employment. The first time I had a slow week, I panicked and thought it was all going to fall apart and I’d be destitute by morning. But the next week, it picked up! Now when I have a slow week, I work on hobbies, try to garner new business or do some professional development with online tutorials.

Speaking of putting yourself out there, overcoming rejection is a big part of chasing dreams. How do you bounce back?

Yeah, it’s a major part of chasing dreams! When I got my first ten greeting card designs printed, I approached a big stationery shop to see if they’d be interested in stocking them. The owner said ‘they were of no interest’ to him… and I started bawling right after I left. For a horrible second, I thought maybe my cards were stupid and no one liked them but me! In retrospect, that shop was all wrong for Things by Bean, anyway. It’s the fancy, Italian-imported, elegant breed of stationery shop and Things by Bean is a bright, cheeky range bursting with personality! So analyzing your target audience carefully is important. Even then, you’ll still get rejected by someone you thought was a PERFECT fit, but there’s plenty more where they came from!

What do you do when you’re having an off day- maybe feeling down, struggling with self-doubt, or just unmotivated?

They’re the worst. It doesn’t happen to me too often, but when it does, I usually go to the gym or start working on something completely different. If you force yourself to do an hour of boring admin, the challenging creative tasks suddenly seem really appealing.

What is one misconception people have about you and/or your profession?

I can’t think of any misconceptions about my profession, but I think there are all kinds of misconceptions about working from home. I don’t think most people realize how much motivation you have to create for yourself and how honed your work ethic has to be.

What is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

I think the rejection thing above is the biggest one. But the second biggest is discovering how possible entrepreneurialism is! If you have an awesome idea and you’re willing to work hard for it, you really will be successful.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to run their own creative business?

Be consistent with your ‘brand’, be really easy to work with (answer emails promptly, get orders out quickly, be friendly) and don’t be afraid to tell people how awesome you are. I went into one shop and said ‘Hey, want to stock my cards? They’ll sell better than any cards you’ve ever stocked, I guarantee it!’ And they totally did, which is great because I don’t have a lawyer and shouldn’t be going around making guarantees…

When do you feel the most inspired, alive and the most like YOU?

Definitely when a great card idea explodes into my brain and I lunge for my computer and bang it out on Illustrator. I’m also a writer, so I get the same rush when I finish a piece of writing that I’m really happy with.

What people, books, music, etc. inspire you?

Neil Gaiman is my favorite author because everything he writes is magical, weird and unique. When I need to break from work, I get up and have dance parties to get the blood flowing again – today, I think I’ll have a boogie to Mac Demarco, Steal My Sunshine, anything by Grouplove, King Tuff and some Ignition Remix by R. Kelly for good measure. I’m also inspired by interactions with friends – you’re always at your brightest and funniest around your best buds, so great ideas come out of our interactions!

Describe your favorite moment or accomplishment in your career so far.

Definitely when I got an email from Urban Outfitters saying they were interested in stocking Things by Bean. UO was my favorite store throughout high school and college and I still flippin’ love it, so it was huge for me. After I read the email, I rolled around on the kitchen floor and squealed for a few minutes.

What’s the most exciting thing going on in your life right now?

Things by Bean will be stocked in Wholefoods soon, starting with the store in Charlottesville, VA. And if they go well there, hopefully they’ll be available in other parts of the region before long! Non-professionally, my man and I are hoping to buy our own place soon. Finally I’ll have a proper office! Right now I work in various locations, including but not limited to the living room, the kitchen, my bedroom and once, the bathtub.

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GIVEAWAY

You have two options to enter the giveaway:

1. Check out the Things by Bean website and tell us in the comments on this post which card is your favorite.

2. Leave a comment and tell us what your dream job would be, if you could do anything in the world.

Two random winners will be chosen on Wednesday, October 8th (one week from today) to receive 5 cards each. I will contact the winners by email to get mailing addresses. 

things by bean giveaway

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The winners have been chosen using this random number generator. I’ve emailed the two winners (#1 and #5!). Thank you all for entering!

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BIO

Jo is the creative director, owner and designer for Things by Bean. Things by Bean is a range of cool cards for occasions, non-occasions, and made-up occasions. They’re always cheeky, sometimes creepy and often downright cute! And if they make someone chuckle, they’ve done their little job well. You can find them stocked in various card shops around Melbourne, Australia, as well as Urban Outfitters and Whole Foods Market in the U.S.

Website // Facebook  // Instagram

Have questions for Jo about starting your own product line? Ask her in the comments!

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  • Sonya October 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    It’s hard to choose a favorite! If I had to choose, though, I’d say my fave is “congratulations on your new cat” because it made me giggle! I was at the vet when I saw it, so it was totally appropriate.

  • Scarlette October 1, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    My favourite is “I Happen To Ink You’re Awesome”. I love octopods and I love puns – a perfect match!

  • Sam Miller October 1, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Haha, it is definitely hard to choose, I enjoy quite a few of these. I think my favorite would probably have to be Birthday Cat (the one with the candle taped to its forehead haha) annnd The Birthday Flow comes in a close second. PIZZZZZA PARTYY

  • Bri @ Simple Delights October 1, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I love the Let’s Party for Fox Sake.. made me laugh! My dream job would be to own a combo yoga studio and tea merchant shop.. maybe even loft style- yoga on top and tea & other goods on bottom. I definitely want to get yoga certified someday.

    • Dzeigler October 1, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      That sounds like an awesome dream job! You can make it happen 🙂

  • lindsay Cotter October 2, 2014 at 8:10 am

    this gives me hope as a small biz! so thank you! and love your talent, so beautiful and creative! i can’t choose which one i like best