Today beautiful stylist Anna White of Lona De Anna chats with Jayde Leeder from Little Paper Lane, revealing Jayde’s inspiration, creative resources and the rewards & challenges that come with opening up your own business.
1) Tell us a little bit about you background and what ultimately ignited the idea to take the plunge and open up your own Stationary/Gift store LPL?
I was a part time make up artist for about 10 years, I also travelled a lot and worked on and off as a nannie during this time. Having also previously managed retail stores in the past.
I have always been completely obsessed with stationery. Even as a little girl, I was always typing stories on an old typewriter my Pop got for me, and was always collecting stamps and pens and I could never ever have enough.
While working as a Nannie, I learnt more about running a store, as my boss at the time owned a beautiful gift store with her mother back in her hometown, and later opened a store in Mona Vale.
I saw the hard work that went on behind the scenes to present such a beautiful store, and it always seemed so rewarding. I knew I wanted to do create something as beautiful.
I always wanted my own little shop, and one day it just hit me ,holding such a love for stationery, Opening my own store seemed like the natural thing to do.
The children I looked after at the time getting bigger and I wasn’t working as much and I had my son Iggy who was three at the time and was ready for kindy. My husband had his own agency selling surf gear, but was also a graphic designer and had a background in retail. I worked in the shop full time the first year, and my husband left his business and came on to work solely with me because we were getting more and more invitation design requests and we have never looked back : )
2) What have been the most rewarding aspects since starting up your own business LPL and watching it grow?
Many things. I think the relationships I have made with customers and the online community has probably been the most heart warming. I would never have connected with so many creative individuals if I didn’t have LPL. There have been countless opportunities because of the connections I have made because of the store. I think when customers come back over and over again and tell us that they love the shop and watching it grow is probably one of the most warming rewards we could ask for. We are really lucky we have the support of wonderful people and our suppliers are so creative and so supportive. We have really made some amazing friendships.
3) You also enjoy creating colourful, fun and well thought out window displays for your store, where do you source your inspiration from?
I don’t think a day goes by where I am not searching for inspiration for the window. I usually first draw inspiration from either the season we are in, or if a certain event is coming up (like mothers day, spring, xmas etc.) and I try to let the process happen naturally. I find when I am stumped for an idea and I am sitting there forcing the idea to happen its never as great as when I let it happen a little more organically. I have a little note section on my phone and usually before I go to sleep my mind starts to dream ideas and I always make a note so I don’t forget. If I am on pinterest and I see a beautiful picture I will keep the picture in a folder on my computer and use it for inspiration when I am feeling a little lost. Also the products in the shop are a huge inspiration. A few times I have joined brains with a supplier and come up with a window together. And my little shop Helper Rin is very creative and we seem to somehow have the same ideas for window displays alot and together we work on a display. People also love to tell me ‘I know what would be a great window idea’ and I often will pop the idea into my phone and come back to it when I need some inspiration. It comes from anywhere though. Even watching the leaves turn orange in autumn one year I turned into a window display of paper autumn leaves. It doesn’t need to be grand, and usually a simple idea is the most successful displays. My husband helps to make the big props and things and always helps me install and I always run my ideas through him and he usually has an idea or two to add to the display. It’s a fun process to make a window display but it’s a lot of work. It can take 2-3 weeks to make props for a window I am usually spending the last two days before install madly making things and designing things with Steve. I enjoy it so much and seeing families stand out front gazing at it at night after hours when we drive past home from dinner is so rewarding. It really makes us smile and I like that people in our community come to see the new windows and feel inspired.
4) Have there been any challenges since starting up your business LPL, and what advice would you give to others on how to deal with them?
Money is seriously a challenge every day. I still am trying to find the right balance. I am someone who likes to create and make things pretty and buy new products to sell and the money side of things baffles me. My mum is an amazing bookkeeper as well as our shop helper (her merchandising skills are amazing) and I leave all the bookwork in her capable hands. I would say invest in a good book keeper and accountant. Our accountant is in love with my mum because she keeps everything so organised. I would be lost without her. I think also trying to get people to notice your business is also very challenging. The online world is such a huge one and there are small businesses everywhere, so you need to be able to stand out. I’m still finding my feet, but by having a good online presence, it helps with people coming into the store and also getting to know who you are as a person. I find my business thrives more when I put myself out there a little more. We get stopped a lot with people wanting to say hello to our kids and dog and I think people feel more willing to shop with you when they know who you are a little. I’m still trying to build my business, so née I know the perfect formula I will let you know 😉
5) Who are your favourite designers or creatives at the moment that you are stalking?
I would never have just one favourite creative person I am obsessed with. I love everyone so much and always feel so inspired by so many different people. I do always check out my suppliers Instagram and Facebook to see what they are up to because they are amazingly talented.
6) When sourcing and purchasing quality stationary for your store, what is it that you look for that determines wheither it is right for LPL ?
I always look at the quality of the product and the design first. Over the 4 years we have been open, I have worked out what works for our customers. So the product needs to be something that is a little different without being really ‘out there’ from a design point of view, and a little ‘on trend’ without it being something that has saturated the market. And if a product starts being pumped out in a chain store I generally stop selling it. Plus I need to love it. Like really love it. I won’t get a product just because the sales rep tells me it’s their ‘number one seller’. If I don’t like it, I won’t sell it.
7) What are the pros and con’s of running your own business and being your own boss?
Pro’s would totally be the flexibility. Because both Steve and I run the business, I am able to be with the kids and our giant puppy, and not miss too much of what is going on with my kids. I would be quite anxious being away from my kids too much. Cons would be the money side of things. It’s really hard. Also not being in the shop as much for me right now I find hard. I am about to start being in the shop a bit more and Steve will work from home more in our studio, so hopefully we can find a good balance. While my daughter has been so young I wanted to be with her as much as I could, but she is two now and I’m finding it a bit easier to get work done in the day with her. I also have to work really late into the night because having the kid’s means its not an 8 hours work day. So sleep is something that is a con.
8) In a world where most letters and cards are sent electronically and instantly these days, what is it about a hand written letter or card that an email or e-card cannot replace?
I think people hold onto to cards and letters a lot more than an email. There is something very nostalgic about a hand-written note. A sense of warmth, it evokes emotions more than an email. I feel like the last few years it’s more and more popular to write a note or a card to a loved one. Its good for the soul to sit down and really have to think about what you are writing. You can’t go back and cut and paste a letter. And they are just prettier than an email 😉