Posts in Operations & Sales
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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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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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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091 | Simplicity in business with Viola Sutanto, Maika Goods

My guest this week is Viola Sutanto and she’s here to tell us how she made the leap from solopreneur to serial creative entrepreneur, and how she successfully runs multiple product-based businesses. I first met Viola in 2008 or 2009 when she owned the brand Chewing the Cud, a letterpress greeting card company that also sold reusable fabric gift wrap, which distributed to more than 1000 stores nationwide.

Since then Viola has founded MAIKA, a stylish and sustainable soft goods brand inspired by delightful trade and everyday living, and co-founded LimeLoop, a recently launched full-circle shipper packaging company. What impresses me most about Viola, in addition to her superhuman ability to run multiple businesses is how she manages to maintain the same core values across all three companies- although unique in their offerings, each represents a desire to create sustainable, well designed, products that solve problems for their customers.

On today’s episode, Viola and I talk about transitioning from one business to the next, using trial & error to find manufacturing partners overseas, building a team, and time blocking. We also discuss Viola’s perspective on managing transition, how she aims for simplicity in business and what’s up next for her new ventures.

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090 | Bigger doesn't mean better with Rachael Hetzel, Pistachio Press and Briana Feola, Brainstorm (Part 2)

Today is Part 2 of a two-part interview with Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press, and Briana Feola of Brainstorm. On Part 1, which was Episode 89, we talked about freedom versus stability, keeping up with the Joneses and overcoming FOMO. If you missed it, I’d recommend heading back to listen to that one first because today we dive into the details of communication, team dynamics, and client and customer relationships, and much more!

On Part 2, Rachael and Briana share their thoughts on why bigger doesn’t always mean better, knowing your why and communicating your company’s core values so that you’re attracting the right type of clients, customers, and team members. We also talk about not being afraid to revise your business vision, focusing on projects that align with your ethos and hiring for an overall skill set rather than specific ability.

Rachael and Briana have been on the podcast before to share their startup stories. Rachael Hetzel is the owner of Pistachio Press, a boutique letterpress printing and design studio based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Pistachio Press produces a wholesale line of sweet and slightly snarky stationery products that are sold nationally and internationally. Pistachio Press also creates social invitations, business stationery, and prints commercially for a variety of clients. If you want to hear Rachael’s start-up story, head back to check out Episode 11.

Briana Feola is the co-owner of Brainstorm, a print shop and collaborative design studio working from a historic mill in Dover, New Hampshire. Brainstorm is rooted in the production of original art prints inspired by science, nature, and the outdoors. They design for people and companies that appreciate the creative process, enjoy collaboration, and want to make something tangible in an increasingly digital world. Briana and her husband, Jason Snyder shared their co-founding story back on Episode 8, so put that one on your listening list too!

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089 | Freedom versus stability with Rachael Hetzel, Pistachio Press and Briana Feola, Brainstorm (Part 1)

This week I’m sitting down for a special two-part interview with two incredible entrepreneurs – Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press and Briana Feola of Brainstorm. Both have been on the podcast before to share their startup stories and I’m really excited to have them both back to shine a spotlight on what it means to keep things small and intentional as business owners and still grow in revenue and creativity.

Rachael Hetzel is the owner of Pistachio Press, a boutique letterpress printing and design studio based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Founded in 2007, Pistachio Press produces a wholesale line of sweet and slightly snarky stationery products that are sold nationally and internationally. Pistachio Press also creates social invitations, business stationery, and prints commercially for a variety of clients. If you want to hear Rachael’s start-up story, head back to check out Episode 11.

Briana Feola is the co-owner of Brainstorm, a print shop and collaborative design studio working from a historic mill in Dover, New Hampshire. Brainstorm is rooted in the production of original art prints inspired by science, nature, and the outdoors. They design for people and companies that appreciate the creative process, enjoy collaboration, and want to make something tangible in an increasingly digital world. Briana and her husband, Jason Snyder shared their co-founding story back on Episode 8,so put that one on your listening list too!

Today is Part 1 of my interview with Rachael and Briana. On this episode, we talk about freedom versus stability, why there is pressure to keep up with the Joneses and why we can’t worry what others are doing. We also talk about overcoming FOMO, letting go of constantly optimizing and not being afraid to stick to what works best for your business.

On Part 2 which will air on Thursday, we’re talking about why bigger doesn’t always mean better, knowing your why and communicating your company’s core values so that you’re attracting the right type of clients, customers, and team members.

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88 | Email Sequences, Sales Funnels and Facebook Ads with Zoë Scharf from Greetabl

Zoë Scharf is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at Greetabl, a totally unique gifting service that makes it fun and easy to send creative personal gifts. You might remember Zoë from Episode 50 where she shared her start-up story. If you want to hear more about how Greetabl started and the process of seeking angel investors, I recommend checking out that episode. Today we’re shifting gears though and geeking out on marketing strategies, tactics and how Zoe and the greetabl team make customer experience a top priority.

On this episode, Zoe gets granular telling us how Greetabl uses segmenting to add value to their customer experience. She talks about email sequences, sales funnels through Facebook ads and why Greetable is choosing to optimize select marketing channels rather than spreading themselves thin. We also talk about discovering and engaging with new audiences and even drop in a few trade secrets.

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087 | Leadership vs management skills with Natasha Case, Coolhaus (Part 2)

Natasha Case is the CEO of Coolhaus, a Los Angeles based ice cream company specializing in unique, sweet-meet-savory flavors. This is Part 2 of her interview. If you missed Part 1 which was Episode 86, I recommend you head back and listen to that one first.

In Part 2 of her interview, Natasha talks about her approach to scaling, how she tackled grocery and scoop shops at the same time, and how she continues to entwine the three arms of the business to support each other. We talked about how she balances deadlines and creativity, the importance of thinking outside the box, and how Natasha’s perspective of leadership and management has changed over the years. Natasha also shared the importance of building new relationships and innovating ideas that keep Coolhaus on top of its game as zealous expansion continues.

Here’s the background scoop on Coolhaus in case you missed it earlier- Natasha first began exploring the concept of “Farchitecture” – or, Food + Architecture – in her graduate architecture program. She started baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses”. In 2009 she met co-founder Freya Estreller, and together they staged Coolhaus’ unforgettable launch in a refurbished postal van at the famous Coachella Valley Music Festival.

In less than ten years, Coolhaus has snowballed into a nationwide company. They now distribute to 6,000+ grocery stores ranging from Whole Foods to Safeway to Publix markets with 30 SKU’s including hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches, artisan pints, and chocolate-dipped bars. Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30 for food and beverage and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in New York City. She is also the co-host of the Start to Sale podcast, where she invites the brightest entrepreneurial minds to discuss all that it takes to build a company from launch to exit.

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086 | Launching with a minimum viable product with Natasha Case, Coolhaus (Part 1)

Natasha Case is the CEO of Coolhaus, a Los Angeles based ice cream company specializing in unique, sweet-meet-savory flavors. The inspiration for Coolhaus started when Natasha was exploring the concept of “Farchitecture” – or, Food + Architecture – in her graduate architecture program. She began baking cookies, making ice cream, and combining them into “cool houses”. In 2009 she met co-founder Freya Estreller, and together they staged Coolhaus’ unforgettable launch in a refurbished postal van at the famous Coachella Valley Music Festival.

In less than ten years, Coolhaus has snowballed into a nationwide company. They now distribute to 6,000+ grocery stores ranging from Whole Foods to Safeway to Publix markets with 30 SKU’s including hand-crafted ice cream sandwiches, artisan pints, and chocolate-dipped bars.

Natasha has been named Forbes 30 Under 30 for food and beverage and Zagat’s 30 Under 30 in New York City. She is also the co-host of the Start to Sale podcast, where she invites the brightest entrepreneurial minds to discuss all that it takes to build a company from launch to exit.

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. So much so, that we’re going to break it up into two separate episodes. Episode 86 is Part 1.

On today’s episode, Natasha tells us how studying architecture led her to discover her entrepreneurial spirit and how she turned her side-hustle hobby into a national business. She shares why product development and innovation is not just about market research and data but also about trusting your intuition and how Coolhaus launched with a minimum viable product.

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085 | Three seasons of business with Katie Hunt

Happy New Year, friends! On this episode I’m sharing the three phases of business that every business goes through – often multiple times. These three phases include: growth, maintenance and streamlining phase.

Growth is when we’re adding new products, services, systems. We’re in building and expansion mode. One misconception about the growth phase is that its reserved for the early years of business. But, in reality, the growth phase can happen in the beginning, middle and even the end of our business life cycle.

Maintenance is when we take a look at everything we’ve been building during the growth phase and we realize we need to stop adding ‘new’ and instead optimize what we’ve already created. This could include diving deeper into a specific product category or giving a team member additional responsibilities. Maintaining and optimizing our existing products, services and internal processes is a really important step, but often overlooked.

Streamlining is where we clear the clutter from our business — products that aren’t selling or that no longer fit our brand aesthetic; reassessing our client on boarding process for custom work, or our outreach to wholesale accounts we think we’d be a good fit for. The streamlining phase can be a really powerful one, in that you’re creating white space and removing things that are not pushing your business towards your goals.

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6 things I wish for you as we finish 2018 with Katie Hunt

As we head into the holidays, the Proof to Product team and I will be taking a break. While we’re gone, I want to encourage you to go back and listen to some of this year’s most popular episodes. I’ve included links to our top 5 episodes at the bottom of our show notes here so you can find them quickly & easily.

But all in all, we covered a lot of ground in 2018 talking about business finances, licensing opportunities, marketing strategies, selling wholesale, finding manufacturers, exhibiting at shows and the ups and downs of running a business.

Our guests were vulnerable, I was vulnerable. In fact, there were a few episodes I was nervous to air — it felt too raw – but we did it anyway! Because that’s what this show is about… sharing our struggles, successes, and strategies so that all of us can continue to grow our businesses in a way that feels good to us.

I’m really proud of how Proof to Product has grown and I’m overwhelmed (in a good way) when I receive messages from all of you or read the reviews you leave for the show. I appreciate you listening and am so glad that the show has positively influenced your life and your business.

As we head into the holidays and 2019, I want to share some important reminders and six things that I wish for each and every one of you…

I want you to continue to make intentional decisions in your business. Decisions that get you closer to your business goals. Decisions that reflect the season of life that you’re in. And, decisions that further ignite your passions even more.

I want you to make time for yourself and the things that bring you joy in life. As an entrepreneur it is easy to overwork ourselves. We love what we do and we should. But, I want you to carve out time over the next few weeks for play. For hobbies. For time with friends and family.

I want you to spend some time reflecting on the progress you’ve made this year. Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. It happens little by little, step by step. But we need to celebrate our progress along the way. You worked hard this year and you deserve to be celebrated.

Friends, I want you to remember that you set the rules for your business. You decide what products to sell, whether to sell retail, wholesale or both. You decide whether to go to shows or hire a team. You hold the power, never forget that.

I want you to remember that if you’re in an uncomfortable state of change, that this usually means you’re in a growth period and that you’re onto something exciting and new. Don’t let fear hold you back. Try it out and see what happens. If it doesn’t go as planned you can always change direction and try again.

And, I want you to remember that we see you doing amazing work and pouring your heart and soul into your products. This entrepreneurial journey can be tough but also very rewarding. Remember that you’re not alone. We see you.

I want you to know that i’m grateful for you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for listening. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season surrounded by family and friends.

I’ll be back with a new episode on January 8th. Until then, happy holidays and happy new year.

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084 | Intro to licensing art with Jennifer Morgan, A Fresh Bunch

Jennifer Morgan is the brains behind A Fresh Bunch, a creative licensing agency where designers and clients collaborate and create something big together. Jenny began her journey into creative licensing in 2002 when she founded Hen and Barley Press, her own successful wholesale stationery business focused on personalized stationery goods.

Jennifer soon realized just how much of her time was spent on everything in her business except design, and discovered many other creative people in the industry were burnt out just like her. Inspired by the opportunity to bring designers and clients together, Jenny founded A Fresh Bunch in 2010.

On today’s episode, Jenny shares how she shifted away from wholesale manufacturing and into creative licensing. She talks about misconceptions that artists have about licensing and provides overview of how licensing works, who it is for, and how a licensing agency, like A Fresh Bunch can help artists diversify their revenue streams.

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