We recently had the pleasure of working with Kristen Drozdowski, a fine artist and the founder of Worthwhile Paper, based in Ypsilanti, Michigan. In today’s post, Kristen shares her business journey with us and reflects on her decision to hire Aeolidia to design her stationery website. Enjoy!
How long have you been in business? What has your trajectory been like?
My process of starting Worthwhile in 2014 was mostly me honing in on what I enjoyed doing the most with my creativity, and consciously moving toward what felt like what I was being pulled to do the most. I was doing a lot, and enjoyed it all, but everything felt like a side-project and nothing felt like my main thing. I had a lot of different experiences with art and design, and I really wanted to see what happened when I poured my whole self into one project based on what I enjoyed the most.
Around this time, I was also pregnant, and it felt like a great next step. I actually met my partner at the screen printing company we worked together at, and he helped me print my designs (and still does!!!) When I realized I wanted to start my own stationery and gift line, it was actually less of a leap and more of a series of careful steps. I started gently pruning away the kinds of work I was doing that weren’t aligned with my strongest aspirations, and focused more on nourishing what I wanted to do most, which led me to design my first small collection of designs – and it basically took off from there! Making these choices to let go of some things in honor of what was ahead were hard at times, but definitely worthwhile. 😉
What have you been working on lately?
We just launched our new Rise and Set Guided Journal; a companion for morning intentions and evening reflections. Opening the morning with gratitude, vision, and support can set a positive tone for the day. And closing out the evening with appreciation, acceptance, and an openness to what we’ve learned can help us reflect and settle.
That’s why I was inspired to create the Rise & Set Guided Journal: a simple journal that supports quickly yet meaningfully connecting with ourselves, at two significant times each day. The journal is available on its own, or paired with a candle. The set makes a really sweet gift. I wrote a full blog post about this offering and how to make the most of a gratitude journaling practice.
What do you think have been the smartest decisions you’ve made in order to take your business to the next level?
Each choice in our business growth path has resulted from being in tune with where we are at, and change seems to only happen when it feels needed. Getting a fully custom stationery website has been one of the best choices we have made. Showcasing our products and values together has told a more comprehensive and inspiring story that feels true to me, and I am so happy to be able to communicate that to our customers. Another smart decision was hiring employees and releasing the grip on some things I was holding on to that were so much better to be delegated!
What decisions have you regretted or have held you back?
The only things I really regret are when we find a really good solution for something and I had wished I thought of it sooner. They are usually things that aren’t thought all the way through! This reminds me to stop and think each step through first to make sure I am not missing any opportunities.
How does a standard day of running Worthwhile go?
Our team at the Worthwhile HQ is 3-4 people depending on the day. Usually my team gets here in the morning to ship out our online orders – starting with retail and then moving to the larger wholesale orders. One of us is designated for wholesale accounts, another primarily focuses on retail, and another helps with finishing and binding our journals.
And then there is me! I usually come in and take care of any important emails first. I recently started off-loading everything I want to do (in general) on separate to-do lists so my mind can rest assured that none of the ideas get forgotten. Then, I have been picking the ONE significant thing I’d like to get done that day, the one thing that feels needed most, and if I do that one thing, I feel accomplished. (I realized that I have been putting a lot of expectations on myself and falling into the trap of “more productivity = more worth”, which is so far from my brand (and life) philosophy! So, this is my current approach to crawl out from that).
My struggle as a creative business owner is finding a balance in the “creative” and “business” because those things can be opposites sometimes! I usually try to work on “business-y” stuff at the beginning of the day, and I know I really need to get off of my computer at some point and have quality time for my creative process. My art studio is on the other side of the building than my office & computer. Our building isn’t huge, but just having that separated space with a door or two in between spaces really helps! My ideal schedule is business admin/email in the morning, creativity after lunch. It doesn’t always work out perfectly but having a ballpark intention can be helpful!
How do you attract new customers? How much time do you or your team spend on marketing or promotional work?
Actually, attracting NEW customers seems to be puzzling to me, and still sort of hard to know how to do by myself. My go-to approach is “make good work that you love and put it out there authentically and hope for the best” but I am also SO not in the marketing business, so don’t take my advice! Instagram used to be a really good place for connecting to new people, but doesn’t feel as effective anymore. I think I am mostly relying on word of mouth, our wholesale customers sharing our work to their audiences for their shop, and of course having good SEO (thank you, Aeolidia!) and hoping people find our website and subscribe to my newsletter!
It was such a joy to be able to design the new Worthwhile Paper website here at Aeolidia! What made you decide it was time for a new stationery website?
It was a joy for me too! It got to a point with our previous website where I felt like there were a lot of new opportunities that were unmet. The internet seemed to have gotten so much more dynamic since we originally launched, and I started noticing a desire to be able to communicate our brand vibes and values in ways that were immediate and easy to grasp. Having a fully custom site from Aeolidia was always on my list, and it felt like the right time intuitively one day and I reached out!
Klaviyo strategy was a big part of your project. What changes have you seen to sales since we worked on this with you?
I have definitely noticed an increase in sales. The flows are really working for us, and this was something I had no experience in before.
How are the other new features on your stationery website, such as local pickup and volume discounts, working out for you and your customers?
These features are amazing! Local pickups used to be such a hassle – we would have to email back and forth with each inquiry! The way we have it now, customers can place an order and select a pick up time and it is so easy and enjoyable for everyone! Plus, it saves everyone from unnecessary shipping. Our bulk discounts have been so popular, and easy for us and the customer! Before we had bulk discounts, for example, we had a ‘custom card set’ listing to offer discounts on either 4 or 8 greeting cards. The customer would have to look on our website and enter each card title in a little form. Now, people can choose any amount of cards, and if it’s over 5 they just automatically receive the bundle price. It’s amazing, and so helpful for everyone involved.
Anything else we should know about your new stationery website?
I just want to say that I am so pleased with how each and every little corner and every little word in our site was taken into consideration, and I love that. The amount of thoughtfulness put into this project matches the quality of care that we put into our products!
View the case study for Kristen’s website project here: Shopify redesign for a stationery shop »
Thank you so much, Kristen! We’re so happy to be a part of your business journey:) If you have any questions or comments for Kristen, please add them to the comments below! If you could use help with your stationery website, let’s chat. We specialize in supporting artisanal ecommerce brands.
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