When's the last time you got a really funny, laugh-out-loud card?
Keli Spanier felt like cards out there weren't actually all that funny. So, she put her good sense of humor and graphic design experience to use and launched her own small business called Colette Paperie.
“I decided to make really silly cards,” she says. “I’ve since developed a style that is true to me, and my cards are now in over 500 stores worldwide.”
In addition to the cards she creates, Spanier has also expanded into other products including cards, notepads, keychains, stickers, coloring books, and goal books.
Currently, Spanier’s online shop boasts cards and stickers with jokes about cicadas and positive, uplifting quotes.
Part of running a business that features one-of-a-kind designs means staying motivated to learn new things and continuously improve your skills.
“I like bringing my creativity into my products, so I really try to keep fresh and take classes on different areas of art so I always have an open mind on what I design next,” she says.
In terms of finding success as an entrepreneur, Spanier says that there are a number of skills that you need to remember in order to get there.
She believes that you must work hard and take no shortcuts, be able to know your own abilities and manage your time properly, loving the product you’re creating, finding help with your website and photography to create a prominent online presence, and putting yourself out there. “Whether that be free products, podcasts, marketing opportunities, collaborations with others, small business meetups, Facebook groups - potential customers are everywhere,” she says.
Spanier also has a bit of advice for those who are trying to grow their audience. She says to make sure your product has a point of view in the market.
“Oversaturated markets are a hard sell unless you have something different to offer,” she says. “Just find things about your products that are unique and special - there is room for you, but you have to bring something awesome to the table.”
She also encourages those who are interested in making a hobby a full-time gig. As someone who quit a corporate job to run her own business, Spanier is the perfect role model to highlight.
She says that when it comes down to it, fear is really the only thing that can hold you back.
“It’s amazing how much ‘brain space’ you have when you quit your day job and start working for yourself,” she says. “Believing in yourself and learning how to promote yourself is really important, too. Laying low and being shy are not going to get you very far - so save those traits for your personal life.”