Happy Friday Friends!
I’m so excited about this week’s wonder woman! If you missed what this series is all about click here for an update.
IMAGE BY:SATURN TWINS
With out further ado, I give you our Wonder Woman of the week, Kalyn Johnson Chandler. She earned a Mater’s Degree in Public Policy from The University of Chicago. Then she went on to become an attorney, self-taught graphic designer, stylist, and creator of Effie’s Paper.
- How did you choose the name for your business?
I’ve loved stationery and paper products since I was a little girl. My grandmother and company namesake, Mrs. Effie Hayes, worked for Mitchell Greeting Card Company when I was a kid. I have been penning letters since childhood thanks to my grandmother, who believed a lady should have the perfect shade of red lipstick, write a wicked thank you note and always carry a hanky in her pocketbook. So it only seemed natural to name my stationery company after my grandmother. But you best believe that although named after my grandmother, this is not your grandmother’s stationery!
- How did you become aware of your entrepreneurial spirit?
I practiced law at a big firm for a little over ten years before making my segue to the entrepreneurial world. Before I started effie’s paper, I was helping busy professionals get dressed. I was working with doctors, lawyers and bankers – people with very demanding jobs and very little time – so, my approach with them was very high touch. I ran my styling business the way I had learned to run my law practice. As a result, I was burning out quickly. I was having trouble scaling the business (fashion and style blogging was not what it is now …) and it was far more physical than I’d known to realize. In addition to being mentally depleted after working with clients (no matter how fit someone is, we all have body conscious issues and my job was to make everyone feel good about themselves in their clothes), I was also physically exhausted from carrying clothes to the dressing room, helping the seamstress tailor them properly, carrying shopping bags and being on my feet shopping all day long. I started my styling business because I love fashion and style and helping people look and feel good. But, what had once been fun for me as a hobby was turning into a downer for a job. I joked with my husband that I wanted to have a widget that would sell itself while I slept. And then, about 6 months after my wedding, I was sitting at my desk writing thank you notes on stationary, aside from my wedding stationery, that I didn’t love and I had my AH-HA moment. I knew that I couldn’t be the only stationary connoisseur craving stationery that had a bit more of an urban modern edge to it.
- What are you enjoying most about this business?
I love the freedom that comes with owning my own business – I set my schedule: I am the architect and the builder. There’s something immensely satisfying about having an idea, making it come to fruition and having others join you for the ride.
- What is your least favorite about this business? Least- the responsibility! I know, that’s in direct contradiction to what I just said. As a solo-preneur, I’m often envious of other small businesses that have more than one founder, which I’m well aware can be fraught with it’s own set of complications … I guess the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But, sometimes it’s very lonely running your own business and the weight of the success or failure being on your shoulders, and your shoulders alone, can be daunting.
- How do you unwind?
For me the quickest and surest way to get centered and find peace of mind is to work out. When I’m on top of my game, I’m at the gym 3 to 4 times a week. My secret? I take classes. I used to hate the idea of being beholden to getting to the gym at a certain time, but now that I have much more flexibility if I can just get myself to the gym I know that the instructor will do the rest and I can go on autopilot. I often start class with 50 different things on my mind, but once the warm up is over and the challenging work begins all of my energy is focused on keeping up with the instructor.
- What’s your favorite Effie’s Paper product?
Right now, I’m just a little smitten with one of our new desk accessories – our What Would Olivia Pope Do? travel mug. I mean, who doesn’t love Liv? She’s a mover and a shaker, she takes no prisoners and she champions the cause of the little guy – she’s my spirit animal!
- Where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, but even then I was a New Yorker at heart!
- Tell us about your favorite vacation or adventure.
I truly believe that to travel is to live. I’ve been really lucky and I’ve had the chance to travel all over the world. At about this time last year, I was riding elephants in Thailand, swimming in the Andaman Sea and shopping and dining in Hong Kong. It’s one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken! I was at a low point with effie’s paper. I had just lost 2 great interns, hired 2 that I immediately had to fire and my website was hacked all in the span of about 4 weeks. I was at my wit’s end and not exactly sure how I was going to balance everything. My husband and I were leaving mid-November for almost 3 weeks and I didn’t have anyone to “man” the shop. I was anxious, stressed out and not particularly pleasant to be around . . . and then it hit me, rather than try to fix everything in a short period of time and head into my vacation a hot mess, I just decided to shut down. I shut down – literally put a pop-up on the website that said the shop was closed for a little R&R and any orders placed would be filled when it re-opened the second week in December. I hated the idea of losing money and not being available during one of my most profitable seasons, but I hated the idea of going on vacation and not being able to unplug, re-charge and be present with my spouse even more. Once I thought about it like that, it was an easy decision to make. And probably, the best decision I could’ve made. I went away and enjoyed myself and really didn’t think about effie’s paper or my next steps or anything business related. I came back refreshed but very uncertain about effie’s paper. I took the rest of December off mentally, fulfilled orders and decided to start fresh in 2015. Giving myself permission to shut the business down physically, meant that I could shut my mind down mentally and just enjoy myself. It really was an amazing vacation, but I’m sure that was bolstered by my deciding to let go.
- We’re all glued to something! Name the one item you can’t live without. Concealer. I inherited at least 2 traits directly from my grandmother – my love of stationery and hereditary undereye dark circles. It doesn’t matter how much sleep I’ve had, I have dark circles. I’ve had them since I was a little girl. My Kevin Aucoin concealear is my BFF.
As always thank you for reading, commenting, and liking!
P.S. Click here to nominate the wonder woman for this series. I can’t wait to hear from you!