Stories like this one remind me just how much I love social media and what fantastic opportunities it has brought into my life. I discovered this month’s business, Paper Joy, through Instagram and became a huge fan straight away. The rainbow colours, unicorns and mermaids prints are mine.. I mean.. my youngest daughter’s favourites, but to be honest all of Kerry’s work is so bright and positive that it’s actually hard to pin point which print I love the most. Oh and did I mention she’s got one with succulents on? I hope you enjoy getting to know Kerry and learn more about her art print business, Paper Joy, in this month’s Start Up Story.
Hi, I’m Kerry. I love bright colours and I spread happiness and positivity through my artwork. I design, produce and sell art prints. For every art print sold a portion of the sale goes to plant a whole tree.
I’m so passionate about leaving something positive behind. My art prints are happy and bright, they’ll last years and years. Art is so valuable to the human experience, visually evoking happiness is a powerful tool that I feel carries great responsibility for myself as a designer.
Tell us a little bit about your business
My middle name is Joy, that’s how I came up with my business name – which is Paper Joy. My first name is Kerry, hello *excited wave*. I’m a mum to Max, my gorgeous, lively 2-year-old boy and I run my small business from Hull in East Yorkshire. I live with my husband Darren who diligently puts up with my whimsical nature.
My business started about 3 years ago. I left my graduate job in London and never looked back. I still to this day believe in the old saying that it’s better to be building your dreams than someone else’s. I worked for John Lewis Head Office and I must have been mad to leave such a great company, but I think most small business owners have got to be a bit bonkers to do what they do. I work from my small studio at home and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been sending out my art prints all over the world.
What’s been the hardest part of your life as a start up business so far and how do you overcome those kinds of hurdles?
Having left a large retailer I should have been well equipped to start up a business, but I muddled around for a while trying to find my feet. I think it’s important to point out that most of us really just don’t know what we’re doing initially (even now occasionally). Working for yourself is an endless education. It’s having the motivation and willpower to keep yourself going that is the key.
I run on black coffee and chocolate biscuits when I’m working, what couldn’t you live without?
I really wish I liked coffee for the energy boost, but I’m not really a coffee or tea drinker. When I remember I do take them I have Floradix Iron and vitamin tablets, they can help with fatigue.
I know from running this blog and my own online store that when you’re a primarily online based business you need a strong social media presence, which is your favourite platform and do you have any tips for running it?
Without a doubt Instagram has been my strongest social media platform. The thing to think about with social media is ‘why would my target customer follow me?’ they wouldn’t follow you if all you’re doing is forcing spammy ‘buy my product’ posts down their necks. People want to see behind the brand, get personal and honest BUT keep it Instagram pretty.
What is the best part of running your own business? Has there been a ‘pinch yourself to check it’s real’ kind of moment for you?
Working for myself allows me to manage my time, so when we want to take a trip to the playground we can. Though that inevitably means I’ll be at my desk till 11pm that night, it’s so worth it.
Has being a parent influenced the way your business works?
Yes. How could it not! My main drive is to give my family a nice life, having the flexibility to work from home and spend time with my little boy is priceless.
Running an online business that’s so design led must get overwhelming at times, what do you do to manage your time and what tips do you have for avoiding being overwhelmed.
Any creative business will struggle with having to do the boring side of running a business, because all we really want to do is create. The sheer volume of tasks besides designing is completely overwhelming. To do lists are my friends, if I’m feeling overwhelmed I make sure I’ve ticked off at least one thing from my to do list because at least then you are moving forward. Remember little steps are OK.
What’s your current favourite item or range in your store at the moment?
My absolute favorite art print I’ve done to date is my latest design, the Mermaid Riding a Unicorn. I love mermaids and I love unicorns and I love rainbows. So I decided I wanted to incorporate all 3 into a print.
Got any new products or projects in the pipeline?
I’ve added a lot of typography style prints to my collection recently, all with warm messages that I hope will resonate with people. Plus I’ll be bringing out a range of art prints that will have a portion of sales go to lots of different charities.
Whether practical or inspirational, what is your top piece advice for anyone out there wanting to take that leap and start their own business?
Imposter syndrome lives in all of us, you are not alone in finding it hard to call yourself an entrepreneur. Every day won’t be a success but that doesn’t mean that you are not a successful person. If you are supporting your family comfortably then you are doing great.
Kerry has created a fantastic free printable for all my lovely readers!
Click here to download
I’m excited to share a huge 30% off discount code for Paper Joy – HAPPY30
click on the logo to get shopping 😉
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(photos all used with permission – PaperJoy. Discount code valid in Etsy store until 30.11.17)