ONE OF MY FONDEST WISHES FOR DARLING DEAR is that women of all different backgrounds find inspiration and motivation in lifting up and celebrating other bad ass babes. So with that in mind, I'd like to start a series of Babes in Business, in order to get to know some wonderful business savvy babes and see what they're all about. All in hopes that we can learn from them, promote them & create a community of like-minded ladies.
First up, I'd like to introduce the darling Natty Michelle! I met Natty a couple months ago at an arts/crafts show here in Nashville and she's such a doll. She's the owner and illustrative genius behind Natty Michelle Paperie, who "ever since [she] was old enough to pick up a crayon and hold it in [her] hand, [has] been coloring, drawing and painting." She has a passion for creating and a very special place in her heart for snail mail. And in 2010, she launched her darling shop, where she sells original artwork, invitations and other "wonderful whimsies"!
She's based in Athens, Georgia, with her husband and tabby cat, James & Bianca, respectively. If she's not busy creating, she fills her time with Woody Allen films, John Denver records and thrifting.
What follows is a short little interview & look inside what makes Natty Michelle Paperie tick :)
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
"I’ve always loved art and considered myself an artist, but I could never figure out how to turn my passion into a career... My aunt and cousins were selling their art on notecards [during the 2009 crash] and I thought, I could totally do that, too!... At first my Easy shop only had a few notecards for sale, which brought in a little extra money here and there. My sales really started picking up in 2010 when I uploaded my custom maps -- at the time, I was getting married and a lot of my friends were, too, so the wedding maps kind of snowballed and took a life of their own. They are still my biggest seller to date!"
WHAT DID YOU DO BEFORE // WHAT'S YOUR CAREER PATH BEEN LIKE?
"Out of college I had a great internship at Cooking Light Magazine in the marketing department. I loved the creative atmosphere at the magazine -- styled shoots, editorial content, brainstorming meetings -- all of it. When my internship was over, I moved back to Atlanta, my hometown, and began working at an advertising agency in the city. I worked as an account executive, and it wasn’t creatively fulfilling -- I knew it wasn’t what I was meant to do long term. When I lost my job in the crash of 2009, it was the catalyst I needed to seek out a more fulfilling career. At the time, I was stressed beyond belief and didn’t know what I was going to do as far as a job was concerned. Looking back now, things fell into place exactly as they were meant to."
WHAT DOES A MORNING LOOK LIKE IN YOUR WORLD?
"In the morning I make my coffee, walk upstairs to my studio and usually begin working in my pajamas (just being honest). I typically answer emails from the evening before, then I get started on my projects for the day. I keep an Excel spreadsheet to help organize custom orders so nothing gets lost in the shuffle. I space these orders out over the course of a few weeks so I don’t overwhelm myself with too many projects in one day. Using this spreadsheet is a way I hold myself accountable with deadlines -- otherwise things could get put on backorder pretty quickly!"
HOW DO YOU END YOUR DAY?
"When I first started my business, I worked all the time -- morning, noon and night. I quickly started to feel exhausted and creatively burned out. I realized I needed to keep regular business hours -- 9 to 5ish Monday through Friday, taking evenings and weekends totally off. I used to get email and shop order alerts, which I leave turned off now. Shutting my mind off from work after hours is good for me. That being said, I still work way harder now than I ever did before at my advertising job. What they say is true -- you’ll work harder for yourself than for anyone else! But even though I work harder and longer hours, I’m much happier doing something I love."
IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 22 YEAR OLD SELF ADVICE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Natty makes a few great points: working for yourself isn't easy, but if being a Babe in Business is your dream, you've got to keep pushing. Leave your thoughts for Natty & I to read in the comments below :) xo
Photos originally seen in this post & photographed by Kaitie Bryant.