I’m excited to share another installment of our ongoing “Meet the Maker” series, featuring Carina Lawson fo Ponderlily. For this ongoing series, leading business owners share morsels of wisdom and give us a peek behind their brands. Carina is especially lovely and she makes some of the most beautiful planners on earth, so I’m eager for you to meet her!
Meet Carina Lawson of Ponderlily
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Carina: As a motivated woman with big dreams, a blossoming career as a business analyst, and a family who I love more than anything, I found myself being pulled in all directions. I was caught in a never-ending cycle of being busy, successful, and exhausted. I wanted a planner that was made sustainably, helped me create a sustainable schedule, and that was also stylish. I’ve always wanted to create a product that helped women with their life-balance and something that fulfilled my creative side, too. After managing other people’s organizations for many years I thought that with my passion for stationery and sustainability combined with my experience in operations management gave me a wonderful opportunity to start my own business.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Carina: I help women with full lives make smarter, meaningful decisions about how they spend their time. I use ethically sourced materials to make planners and diaries that bring attention to routines and rhythms that bring intention – to even the busiest days.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Carina: You can find our products in our online store and in select retailers in the Middle East and England.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Carina: As a luxury stationery brand for people with full lives seeking to create more space for intentional living.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Carina: I take my children to school, head to the library to work on Ponderlily for a couple of hours. I then go into my 9-5 job, while my family runs the day-to-day operations. I pick up my children from school during my lunch break, give them a snuggle and catch up on their day. I head back to work until 5. This is all possible because thankfully, my family runs the day-to-day operations at Ponderlily while I’m at work and my work/kids’ school/home is only 10 min from each other! Once my children are in bed, I continue to work on my business for a couple of hours. I don’t work on Fridays. During the high stationery season, I take time off work to dedicate myself 100% to Ponderlily.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
Carina: 1. Validate your idea – do a lot of research with what you consider your ideal clients. Send them questionnaires, have them look through your prototypes, and get their feedback. We have to put the customer at the center of this process.
2. Consider your finances – your business finances should start and stay separate from your personal finances. And pay yourself a salary from the minute you make your first sale. I think it makes things a lot more real when it comes to making decisions about your business.
3. Find your tribe – find the people who’ve been there, who’ll cheer you on when you’re doing all the things and hit a major milestone in your business. Your friends and family may not get what you do so it’s important that you surround yourself with entrepreneur friends to cheer you along and provide you with advice when needed.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Carina: The vision I created for my business. I remember why I started and who it’s for: I can only serve my customers from a place of calm and not chaos. I recognize that if I’m operating from a place of overwhelm, I won’t be able to make the best decisions for myself or my business so I take breaks, take deep breaths, and take a good walk to put things back into perspective!
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Carina: Working with an experienced branding agency to help us with our branding. I knew we needed to have a strong visual presence and working with Aeolidia has been one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made.
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Carina: I didn’t look into a contract as closely as I’ve been trained to do – I let my entrepreneurial passion get the best of my trained business analyst brain and I made a huge oversight: I didn’t question why there wasn’t a deliverable schedule in the contract. Production for our first batch of planners was delayed and this mistake cost me dearly. However, I learned a lot from this experience: approach my business like a business, bring people on who’ll be active partners and not talk down to me because I don’t have experience in the industry, and trust my instincts – if something doesn’t sit well or doesn’t seem right…it probably isn’t.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Carina: Asana, G-Suite, and One Note.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Carina: You’d probably see our company in more high-end department stores.
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Carina: Phenomenal! The team is incredibly professional, Lela knows her stuff and genuinely wants to help your business flourish – every question gets answered and we wouldn’t have a wholesale program without Lucky Break.
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Carina: I learned everything I know about the stationery business from classes I’ve taken online. I’ve also had mentorship sessions, especially related to production. I’m very grateful to a growing online community in creative groups I’m a part of who share their knowledge when I have questions.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
LBC: If you could hire someone to do just one thing that you loathe doing, what would it be?
Carina: I really don’t like my own cooking. My repertoire in the kitchen has become quite boring and working 9-5 AND running a business on the side makes me tired…and hungry. I’m not gonna lie but I often visit my parents and my in-laws at meal times on weekends (and with Tupperware in hand) just so I can bring their food back home.
Thank you, Carina, for sharing your talent with us. We absolutely love what you’re doing with Ponderlily, and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for you and your company. We’re cheering you on!