109 | Discontinuing an entire product line & starting over with Alicia Heater, Slightly Stationery

Do you remember when you first started your business? How about your first card? Do you ever go back and look at work you were doing in those early stages and wonder, what was I thinking?! I know from experience it can be cringe-worthy or just hilarious, but that’s the beauty of the business journey!

Today on Proof to Product we’re welcoming Paper Camp alum, Alicia Heater of Slightly Stationery, to share her business beginning. When Alicia started Slightly Stationery, it was with the belief that women be encouraging and loving to each other through the timeless art of handwritten notes (Oh, and that these handwritten notes should make people chuckle, and also be super cute, too.) Today, continuing this spirit of mutual support, a portion of all Slightly Stationery proceeds go to the Malala Fund to help girls around the world receive a good education.

On Episode 109, Alicia talks about how she started her first line, the changes she made along the way and what she learned at Paper Camp. We discuss the financial challenges of business and why giving back is a key  part of Slightly Stationery’s mission and values. Alicia also shares the importance of taking advice, not being afraid to start over, and what it’s like today to have cards in more than 400 stores throughout the U.S. including Paper Source and Anthropologie.

We hope you enjoy this fun episode, and that it inspires you to look back at how far you’ve come in your business journey too!

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108 | Shifting our definition of success with Ginger Lyons, Buffalo Girls Salvage

Hey friends, welcome back to Proof to Product! Today’s guest is Ginger Lyons, a serial entrepreneur who believes positive attitude, abundance mindset, and perseverance are the keys to a successful business model. A military veteran, Ginger is the creator behind Buffalo Girls Salvage, a jewelry design company that transforms salvaged copper, metal and bullet casings into beautiful, handmade pieces.

Since 2012, Ginger’s company has been inspiring women and honoring law enforcement officials through creative designs. She is also passionate about investing in mainstreet America, supporting small businesses and coaching female entrepreneurs.

On today's episode, Ginger and I talk about her incredible “backward” business journey. She shares what it was like to have a storefront, employees, national manufacturing network and the opportunity to appear on Shark Tank, and why she pivoted her business to stay true to her ‘why’. We talk about how our definition of success often changes over the course of time, how entrepreneurship is always a choice, and the importance of sharing our journey to help others.

I hope you enjoy Ginger's story of growth, strategic pivoting, and the lessons she learned along the way!

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107 | The long game of licensing & surface pattern design with Jeanetta Gonzales

Welcome back to Proof to Product, all you small business hustlers, and creative entrepreneurs! Today we have a great episode in store for you with guest Jeanetta Gonzales, a Los Angeles-based graphic designer, and illustrator. Jeanetta began her career as a graphic designer working for corporate companies such as WedMD, Mattel and The Disney Store. She later parlayed her digital and fine art skills into surface design working as a textile designer and style guide designer for consumer products and creating illustrations and art that she licenses to manufacturers for products sold online and in major retail stores. On top of all of this, Jeanetta also runs her own online store where she sells her art on print items, mugs, fabric, home decor items and more.

On today’s episode, Jeanetta shares her experience with licensing and tells us why you have to be in it for the long game. We talk about why relationships are so important in business, why it’s necessary to create art and products with a unique point of view, and her goal to spread joy through a variety of creative means.

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106 | Product diversification and scaling wholesale with Alex Gagne of Chez Gagne

Today on Proof to Product we’re welcoming Paper Camp Alum, and founder of Chez Gagne, Alex Gagne! Alex attended our Paper Camp Conference back in February of 2015 before debuting her wholesale line at the National Stationery Show. Since then, Alex has gone on to expand her product offering, add new team members, and achieve her vision for the Chez Gagne brand.

Chez Gagne is a paper and gift brand that offers greeting cards, wine and spirit tags, mugs, wine glasses, candles, and rocks glasses. Alex currently sells to 1,500 stores throughout the world, works with sales reps nationally, and exhibited at six trade shows this winter alone. With more than 93% of Alex’s annual revenue coming from wholesale, much of her time is spent planning, prepping and traveling across the country for trade shows.

On today’s episode, Alex is sharing with us how she does it all. We talk about how greeting cards became more than just her creative outlet and how Alex made the jump from paper goods to other products. We also how Alex decides which new product categories to pursue, challenges she faced in her business journey and key factors to Chez Gagne’s exponential growth.

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105 | Digital Marketing Strategies for Product Businesses with Allie Morris Nute, Verb House Creative

Our guest today is Allie Nute, the creative lady behind Verb House Creative. Allie provides content creation, digital marketing management and consulting services to incredible, creative businesses - businesses with personality, heart and dedication. Allie calls them her client-friends.

On this episode, we are talking about misconceptions that creative entrepreneurs have around marketing and how Allie helped one of her customers increase their wholesale sales by 250%. We also find out why fewer emails is often-times more impactful, why you don't need to be focusing on all of the social media platforms, and when it's best to pick one and run with it.

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104 | Turning a Hobby Business Into a Thriving Retail Shop with Audrey Woollen, Urbanic

Hey Friends, have you had the chance to visit the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles? This mile long street located in Southern Venice is home to amazing creative galleries, internationally recognized brands and one-of-kind local shops like, Urbanic Paper Boutique. Audrey Woollen founded Urbanic thirteen years ago, and since then, her original lifestyle brand and retail shop has attracted a great deal of press, a large social media following, and has developed collaborative signature lines with some of the nation's top designers.

On today's episode, Audrey shares how she discovered her passion for paper and product based business. She tells us how she got started, how Urbanic has evolved over the years, and how she turned her weekend hobby into a thriving retail shop. Audrey also talks about the challenges she faced along the way, including an IRS audit in her third year, and the store getting robbed at times. Audrey brings us into her journey, talking about the passion she has for her industry, the creative community which she's in, and why creating a strong customer experience is so important to her and the brand.

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103 | Marketing our Rebrand with Katie Hunt, Proof to Product

This is Part 3 of our three-part series exploring Proof to Product’s exciting new rebrand. On Part 1, which was Episode 101, guest host Caroline Hull and I talked about why I decided to change my business name from Tradeshow Bootcamp to Proof to Product. On Part 2, we dove into the logistics, business formation, legal decisions, and building out the new website. If you missed those two episodes, I encourage you to head back and listen to 101 and 102 first!

On today’s episode, Caroline and I are breaking things down to talk about the marketing plan. Specifically, how we rolled out the new site and the news about the Proof to Product name change.

Our audience has been such an important part of this process, and I’m so excited to share all of these new changes with you. I hope you enjoy Part 3 of this three-part series and be sure to check out our new online home at prooftoproduct.com!

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102 | Logistics of Our Rebrand with Katie Hunt, Proof to Product

Welcome to Part 2 of a three-part series exploring Proof to Product’s exciting new rebrand. On Part 1, which was Episode 101, guest host Caroline Hull and I talked about why I decided to change my business name from Tradeshow Bootcamp to Proof to Product, and all the fears I had going into the transition. So if you haven't caught that episode yet, I encourage you to go and start there!

Today, on Episode 102, Caroline and I are diving into the logistics behind the rebrand, from the business formation and legal decisions to marketing planning and building Proof to Product’s new website. Tomorrow, on Episode 103, I share our marketing plan, how we’re rolling out the new name and the best parts of our beautiful new website.

Our audience has been such an important part of this process, and I’m so excited to share all of these new changes with you. I hope you enjoy Part 2 of this three-part series and join in to celebrate with us!

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101 | Why I Rebranded to Proof to Product with Katie Hunt

Hey friends, can you believe it?! This is Proof to Product’s 100th Episode! It’s been amazing to watch this podcast, which began as a creative way to connect with members of the stationery community, grow into so much more – a platform, resource, and launching point for stationery and creative entrepreneurs alike.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve heard some incredible, inspiring startup stories from entrepreneurs making physical products, just like you. We have talked about successes and struggles, mindset shifts, and the importance of taking action to reach your goals. Entrepreneurs like Katie Wilson of The Good Twin, Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press, Mary Phan of Very Mary Inspired, Ronnie Williams of DeFrance Printing, Taylor Elliot of Taylor Elliott Designs, Natasha Case of Coolhaus, and Viola Sutanto of Maika Goods, just to name a few, all shared their stories, struggles and advice of growing and thriving in business.

To celebrate this 100th milestone, we’re revisiting our favorite episodes and the Proof to Product lessons that continue to inspire our lives and business. We’re honored to share the personal stories of our amazing audience members and hope you enjoy this special edition episode!

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100 | Listeners help us celebrate episode 100!

Hey friends, can you believe it?! This is Proof to Product’s 100th Episode! It’s been amazing to watch this podcast, which began as a creative way to connect with members of the stationery community, grow into so much more – a platform, resource, and launching point for stationery and creative entrepreneurs alike.

Over the last year and a half, we’ve heard some incredible, inspiring startup stories from entrepreneurs making physical products, just like you. We have talked about successes and struggles, mindset shifts, and the importance of taking action to reach your goals. Entrepreneurs like Katie Wilson of The Good Twin, Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press, Mary Phan of Very Mary Inspired, Ronnie Williams of DeFrance Printing, Taylor Elliot of Taylor Elliott Designs, Natasha Case of Coolhaus, and Viola Sutanto of Maika Goods, just to name a few, all shared their stories, struggles and advice of growing and thriving in business.

To celebrate this 100th milestone, we’re revisiting our favorite episodes and the Proof to Product lessons that continue to inspire our lives and business. We’re honored to share the personal stories of our amazing audience members and hope you enjoy this special edition episode!

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099 | Pivoting to custom wedding work with Emily Asher, Emily Rose Ink

Today on the 99th Episode of Proof to Product I’m joined by our friend and Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni, Emily Asher. Emily is an artist, calligrapher and the owner of Emily Rose Ink, a boutique wedding stationery studio based in Chicago. Emily started designing wedding stationery as a side hustle while working as a high school English teacher, but since taking the leap to make it her livelihood, her wedding stationery has been featured in countless publications and blogs, including Vogue, Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty, and Oh So Beautiful Paper.

Early on in her business journey, Emily made the decision to intentionally narrow her focus, from art prints and greeting cards, to custom wedding stationery. Although this felt like a risk at first, this allowed Emily to perfect her design aesthetic, grow customer relationships, and solidify her business foundation. As a result, Emily’s wedding stationery business took off and her designs made celebrity status. Seriously… She just did Hillary Swank’s invites!

On today’s episode, Emily shares her startup story. She talks about how she got her foothold in the stationery industry, what inspired her to dive fully into her business, and why it was important for her to narrow her focus to solely doing custom wedding work. Emily also shares what she learned from celebrity weddings, how she manages her growing business today, and what’s coming up next for Emily Rose Ink!

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098 | Simplifying Your Marketing with Lindsey Morando from Hello Bar

Lately, I’ve had lots of feedback and questions from our audience regarding the struggles of marketing strategy. It can be so hard to know where to direct your time and energy with so many social and marketing channels available now, and that’s why I’m really excited for you to hear this week’s episode with Lindsey Morando, the Director of Marketing for Hello Bar. Lindsey has more than fifteen years of experience in business development and marketing that spans multiple industries including health & wellness, SaaS, lifestyle, and hospitality. No matter which industry she is focusing on though, Lindsey prides herself on the creation and implementation of engaging grassroots and online marketing tactics that convert fans into paying, happy customers. When Lindsey is not moving the marketing needle for businesses, she is a marketing professor at the San Diego Fashion Institute and the author of It’s Just Beginning– Break Up, Get Up and Walk Away.

Today, on Episode 98, Lindsay is sharing a ton of great marketing and business advice. She talks about the number one challenge she sees small business owners facing today, her three strategies for simplifying marketing and … (drumroll please) together we announce our free marketing class coming out on April 10th! This class is specifically designed to help you Capture More Emails on Your Website, and make the most of your marketing efforts. Head to the link to find out more and register, and happy listening!

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097 | Hiring a licensing agent with Ilana Griffo

Welcome back to another episode of Proof to Product! Today’s guest is Ilana Griffo, an illustrator, designer, author, and Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni! Like so many of you fellow entrepreneurs, Ilana built her business from the ground up. She began by launching her own stationery line, moved into designing her own product lines, signed major licensing deals with nationally recognized brands like Pier 1, Homegoods, and Michaels, and just published her first book, Mind Your Business. The key to Ilana’s success? She points to the way her business is always transitioning, pivoting to get to where she wants to go!

On today’s episode, Ilana and I sit down to talk about her career journey and the lessons she learned along the way. She talks about how she got her start in the stationery industry, why she decided to hire a licensing agent, and how that has freed her up to do more creative work. We also talk about pushing yourself to create for fun, fighting for your value, and rethinking failure. Ilana shares some examples of tough situations she went through in her business and how they resulted in some of her proudest moments.

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096 | Rebranding to a new name with Julie Richardson, Unblushing

Lately, I’ve had lots of feedback and questions from our audience regarding the struggles of marketing strategy. It can be so hard to know where to direct your time and energy with so many social and marketing channels available now, and that’s why I’m really excited for you to hear this week’s episode with Lindsey Morando, the Director of Marketing for Hello Bar. Lindsey has more than fifteen years of experience in business development and marketing that spans multiple industries including health & wellness, SaaS, lifestyle, and hospitality. No matter which industry she is focusing on though, Lindsey prides herself on the creation and implementation of engaging grassroots and online marketing tactics that convert fans into paying, happy customers. When Lindsey is not moving the marketing needle for businesses, she is a marketing professor at the San Diego Fashion Institute and the author of It’s Just Beginning– Break Up, Get Up and Walk Away.

Hey Friends, it’s Tuesday! Which means we’re back with another episode of Proof to Product, and this week I’m sitting down for a very fun interview with former PTP guest, Julie Richardson. You may remember Julie from Episode 20, where she shared her startup story and told us how she built her Etsy shop, Julie Ann Art, into a successful wholesale enterprise. If you haven’t heard her story, it’s definitely worth heading back for a listen!

For some background- Julie founded Julie Ann Art shop in 2008 and quickly gained the attention of the internet with her combination of raw illustrations and irreverent wit. Her brand brought a refreshing take to stationery, and with features in People, Bored Panda, Refinery and more, her side hustle hobby grew into a national lifestyle brand.

In 2019, Julie Ann Art rebranded as Unblushing to better represent the strong-willed, unapologetic voice that is quintessential to her stationery and gift brand. On today’s episode, Julie and I dive into this recent rebranding experience. We talk about how she knew she was ready for a new name and a fresh look, how she narrowed down potential names, and how she ultimately decided on Unblushing. Julie pulls the curtain back on what happens behind the scenes during a rebrand, shares her roadmap for planning the transition and tells us how she dealt with the unexpected details she never saw coming.

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095 | Customer engagement with Amy Tan, Amy Tangerine

Hey friends! This week on Proof to Product I’m sitting down with Amy Tan, founder of the creative lifestyle company, Amy Tangerine. I’m really excited to have Amy on the show, because not only is she a creative entrepreneur that designs online content as well as fun, tangible products like t-shirts and craft supplies, she also teaches workshops around the world, makes YouTube videos, consults with awesome brands and wrote the book, Craft a Life You Love. Amy believes everyone has a story to tell, and her mission is to inspire women everywhere to feel joy and confidence by infusing creativity, fun, and intention into the everyday.

On today’s episode, Amy shares how she got her start as an entrepreneur and how her business has evolved over time. She gives advice for curating an authentic and organic social media presence, and the best way to approach contracts and collaboration. We also talk about her favorite mediums, how she connects with her audience and how she decides which partnerships and collaborations to say yes to.

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094 | Creating strategic business plans with Emily Marks, Carina Paper Co

This week we have a great episode in store for you – one that will definitely resonate with any of you who are hustling through a day job to fund your dream job. Emily Marks, once a forensic accountant, took the leap and left a stable job to pursue her passion. She is now the businesswoman behind Carina Paper Co., a stationery company inspired by her Italian heritage and from her heart as a new mom, wife, daughter, and friend.

On today’s episode, Emily gives us all the details on how she turned her side hustle into a full-time gig. She tells us the reason she left her job with a major accounting firm and how her former role actually helps her in business now. We talk about the importance of strategic planning, project management, and how being in a state of discomfort provides space for personal growth. Finally, we talk about the danger of overthinking things and why sometimes, you just have to go for it.

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093 | Fears, pivots & growth through 10 years in business with Mary Phan, Very Mary

I can’t wait for you to hear this week’s episode with entrepreneur extraordinaire, Mary Phan. Mary owns a multi-faceted business which includes — Very Mary Inspired and The Sketchbook Series, illustration courses for designers and event planners. Mary is also a TSBC Alumni and just recently published her first book, The Artful Sketch, a gorgeous how-to sketchbook for beginners and experts alike.

Mary has always been drawn to the arts. After beginning her career as an interior designer, dabbling in fashion and staging model homes, she launched Very Merry Events in 2008. Mary enjoyed creating memorable experiences filled with atmosphere and feeling, but she became known for the beautiful, custom illustrations that were an indispensable part of her design process. In 2013, Mary took that love of illustration to the next level, launching The Sketchbook Series to help other event planners and designers master creative drawing.

Today Mary tells us all about her entrepreneurial journey, and how she went from being an interior designer getting laid off, to starting her own business. We talk about the real fears, pivots, and transitions that come with running your own business, and the joy of stepping into your true passion.

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092 | Creating a minimalist business with Paul Jarvis, Company of One

My guest today is Paul Jarvis, entrepreneur and author of the book Company of One: Why Staying Small is The Next Big Thing for Business. I read this book over the winter break and so much of what Paul talks about resonated with me. We live in a world where we’re conditioned as entrepreneurs to strive for more — more revenue, more products, more customers, more followers, more visibility and notoriety. While it’s true striving for bigger isn’t always better, I know many of us still struggle with the big question – How do we grow strong, profitable businesses but in a way that feels good and sustainable?

In his book Company of One and during today’s interview, Paul challenges us to explore a different way of thinking about business. During this episode, Paul and I discuss the contrarian view that business growth isn’t always good, and isn’t always required. We also talk about being a solopreneur, why that doesn’t necessarily mean your working alone, and why we need to know our “enough.” If you’re trying to break the mold, embrace minimalism and find balance in your own biz, trust me, this episode and book will help a ton!

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Special Edition | 2019 New York Now

Today we’re back with Part 2 of our NY Now and National Stationery Show recap!

As you may have heard, NSS which was previously held in May, moved to February this year to co-locate with NY Now. 39 of our Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni were exhibiting at the two shows and one of the main questions I had for them was — how have the shows merging affected you?

It was interesting to see the different responses.

If you listen to Part 1 of this series, you’ll hear the that the NSS exhibitors mentioned specific pros and cons of the shows co-locating. But, when I asked the NY Now exhibitors about the effects, they didn’t notice much of a difference.

Many of our NY Now exhibitors have been exhibiting at NY Now for several shows, doing both the summer and winter show. Most used to also do the National Stationery Show when t was in May — so three large NY shows a year. In these interviews you’ll also hear how they are branching out to other shows, and they’ll talk about the difference in these shows and why they ultimately chose NY Now over NSS.

Today’s episode features interviews with Lindsay Henry of Inklings Paperie, Kathryn Hunter of Blackbird Letterpress, Erika Caskey of Chez Gagne, Danelle Bliss of Wishbone Letterpress, Rebekah Tennis of Wild Ink Press, and Victoria Venturi of Paper Epiphanies.

I hope you enjoy this special series!

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