025 | Avoiding the comparison trap with Debbie Lee, Penelope's Press

Debbie Lee, Penelope's Press

On today’s episode I’m interviewing Debbie Lee of Penelope’s Press, a letterpress print studio founded in Chicago and now based in Southern California. Debbie opened her business in 2009 selling on Etsy and doing custom wedding work, then later launched to the wholesale market. She shares her important story of how getting sick forced her to scale back in her business and gave her a newfound perspective of how she was spending her days. She talks about her struggle to say no to new opportunities, why her family is at the center of her business decisions and why she didn’t let comparison deter her from her path of slow growth.


  • What motivated Debbie to start letterpress printing

  • How she balances marketing to different audiences

  • The things that inspire Debbie when creating new products and how she comes up with new concepts

  • Her cross-country move & how she prepared

  • Balancing being a mom and being a business owner

  • The importance of not letting comparison deter your growth or your priorities

  • Making the tough decision to pull back when her stress was impacting her health, her business & her family

  • The importance of saying no

  • Debbie’s advice for a young entrepreneur starting a product based business

  • How she handles the concern of copycats or people taking inspiration from her work

  • What’s next for Penelope’s Press

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“All these things in my life have brought me to the point I’m at.” – Debbie Lee

“There’s always a little backstory to every item that I sell.” – Debbie Lee

“It was really important for me to stay grounded and to know what my focus was and what my goals were for my business and for my family.” – Debbie Lee

“Everyone’s businesses are different. Everyone’s circumstances are different.” – Katie Hunt

“Time is not going anywhere. I have plenty of time to grow my business. There’s no race. The race is with myself.” – Debbie Lee

“I think it’s important to know what you can handle.” – Debbie Lee

“It doesn’t define us to be busy every second. You’re not better because you’re busier than the next.” – Debbie Lee

“Be friendly and give back.” – Debbie Lee

“During the thick of it, when I’m tired, and I don’t want to be doing this anymore and I tell my husband I’m going to shut down the business, I think why I got in the business in the first place.” – Debbie Lee

“Just because everybody’s doing something doesn’t mean that you need to be doing that thing too, even though it’s trendy.” – Debbie Lee

“We shouldn’t look at each other as competitors. We should look at each other as colleagues and leverage each other’s strengths and knowledge and experiences to better what we’re doing in our own business.” – Katie Hunt

“You have art that needs to get out there, and by you being scared that somebody’s going to copy you, that doesn’t do anything. You don’t gain anything from that.” – Debbie Lee

“For those that are creating new work and trying to figure out their own unique voice and their own aesthetic, just be cautious of looking around too much and make sure that you are really trying to hone in on your unique voice instead of mimicking somebody else’s work.” – Katie Hunt


Website: Penelope’s Press | Facebook: @penelopespress | Instagram: @penelopespress | Twitter: @penelopespress

Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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