This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re getting to know April May, the designer and business maven behind the bright and fun stationery and gift line Everything Little Miss.
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
April: When I was laid off in January of 2009, I suddenly had a lot of time on my hands. I designed valentines to send to my friends & family. They were such a hit that I designed more. It was fun and I liked adding a little more pretty to the world, so I set up an Etsy shop, and I was officially in business.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
April: I create cards & gifts that are bright & fun. My products are perfect for everyday use because they are affordable, functional, and add a burst of color.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
April: I wanted to create affordable, eco-friendly cards for everyday use. Even though it was just a hobby at first, I always had that in my mind because whenever I needed a card I couldn’t find one that felt right. I figured I couldn’t be the only one feeling that way.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
April: You can find Everything Little Miss on Etsy & several retailers in the US.
LBC: Walk us through a typical work day.
April: I’ve never had a typical work day! I used to work like this: Most days, I’d spend all day with my son, Wesley (he turned 2 in January). We would play, go for walks, cook – pretty normal stuff. I’d check email periodically throughout the day, but couldn’t really get much work done. After dinner, my husband would put him to bed & I would start working. I usually got most of my work done from about 7-10 or 11pm. I also worked on weekends. But that all changed on January 17 of this year, when I had another baby. Milo isn’t very demanding during the day, but between 7-11pm he eats almost non-stop! So now, my work day is from about 11am-12pm, when they both nap. I’m also working more on the weekends when I can fit it in.
LBC: What are the some things makers should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
April: 1. Do you want to wholesale? If so, make sure you’re pricing your products correctly from the get-go. Don’t forget to account for your time! I’m really luckily that my husband was getting his MBA as I was starting my business and he was able to help me with this.
2. It’s also important to think through the finances. When I first started out, I was collecting unemployment and actively looking for a full-time job. When I got a job, I was relieved, because I knew my little business would not be able to support me right off the bat.
3. Owning a business is so different than having a job. If you own it, it’s like your baby. It takes so much time and energy, but that’s okay because you’re helping it grow and you feel proud. But if you don’t want to worry about work outside of work, then maybe you don’t really want to start a business. I think about my business so much more than I ever thought about any of my jobs. And I work at all hours of the day. For example, when my water broke my first thought was about all of the things I had to do in preparation for a wholesale order from a new account. And then I pulled out my laptop and worked for 2 1/2 hours to make sure all loose ends were tied up before I’d be offline for a few days.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
April: A good cry, if I’m really overwhelmed. Also, a walk because I can get fresh air while stepping away from the computer and looking at beautiful things like clouds, flowers, or snow. Being away from technology really brings the stress level down. Oh and the most important thing: venting to somebody I love.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
April: When I started out, I dreamed that one day I’d see my products in stores. So I made sure that my retail prices would also work if I wanted to sell wholesale. That really helped when I was ready for wholesale, because I didn’t have to do a huge price increase and scare my customers away. Another good decision has been keeping a really, really low inventory. This doesn’t really work for a lot of makers, but for digitally printed stationery it’s ideal. My money isn’t tied up in inventory and I print to order so my wholesale orders almost always ship complete. I can even produce discontinued items if they’re requested, because I won’t be stuck with extra stock I can’t sell.
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience.
April: When I started my business I didn’t really know anything about running a business or about the stationery industry. That’s a pretty big obstacle. So I started working at a local letterpress stationery company as their office manager so I could learn more about both!
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you’re particularly passionate about?
April: Last year, we contributed to First Connections, a local non-profit that provides services to families with infants and small children. We love this organization and Wes & I attend weekly playgroups all year long.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox you can’t do without?
April: 1. My business friends in the LBU alumni coaching group, because they are a wealth of information and they are so supportive.
2. Netflix, Stitcher, and Spotify because I love to have background noise and entertainment while I work.
3. Google. Don’t know what an animal looks like? Google knows. What’s 27.81 x 3? Google knows. Not sure how to spell a word? Google knows. So yeah, I use Google a lot.
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
April: My boys will be in school, so I’ll have way more time to focus on work! I’ll have an office somewhere other than my couch. I’ll have employees helping to pack orders & doing the things I’m not great at. My maps will be featured in travel magazines and more fun little shops in college towns will be ordering from us.
LBC: As a client of Lucky Break Consulting, which specific products or services that you’ve utilized have proved helpful?
April: LBU: I loved this so much. It really helped me identify where I’m struggling. Since taking the class, I been more excited about my business and have been making changes behind the scenes that have led to increased sales.
LBU Alumni Coaching: This group is invaluable. Not only do I have access to Lela’s expertise, but to a whole group of amazingly talented, generous, and smart women entrepreneurs. This is a space where I can ask business questions, get moral support, and share big wins.
Romancing The Press: This webinar strips away some of the mystery around getting press. Like everything Lela does, the ideas are presented clearly and with guidance about where to go next. I’m looking forward to taking what I learned last month and putting it into action.
LBC: Share one of your guiltiest pleasures.
April: Watching bad movies & TV shows on Netflix. Some might consider it a guilty pleasure, but I feel no shame. Movies made for Disney Channel & ABC Family are some of the most enjoyable. I watch them while I work, because they really aren’t good enough to deserve my full attention!
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
April: ”Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” -Pablo Picasso
LBC: What’s your best recipe?
April: I love cooking, but I rarely follow a recipe unless I’m baking because baking is like chemistry. I make really great cranberry scones & biscuits. The secret for both is to use really cold butter and to handle the dough as little as possible. Martha Stewart can guide you. Google it.
Thank you, April, for sharing your talent with us (and your love of Google – we love The Googles too!)! We absolutely love your fun stationery and gift line and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for Everything Little Miss! We’re cheering you on!
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!