Hello PRO Partners!
We are so excited to be welcoming the lovely Kimberly of Purple Wagon Designs to the Spotlight this month! Kimberly shares a trick to creating your own styling surface/backdrop, discusses relocating during a pandemic, and talks about the struggle of running a business and becoming a teacher-mom due to COVID. Without further ado…
Hi! My name is Kimberly Werner, and I’m the owner of Purple Wagon Designs. Last year I moved back to my hometown of Buffalo, NY from Pittsburgh, PA, where I lived and worked for over 20 years. Now I feel like I have two hometowns!
I have a degree in graphic design and started my business 15 years ago doing branding and website design for businesses. One of my clients owned a wedding venue and wanted to promote me to their couples for wedding invitations, which is what prompted me to branch out into doing more personal stationery. It began as a fun side-gig, and slowly became more and more my MAIN gig!
three fun facts about you
- I have a Level 2 Black Belt in Kung Fu, so I always get paid (just kidding!)
- I have 2 elementary school aged children, so I’m both a mom AND a teacher(thanks, Covid!)
- I once jumped out of an airplane – on purpose!
Spill the Tea
what has been your biggest challenge to date? and how did you overcome it?
My biggest struggle to date has been my relocation to Buffalo, just a few short months before a global pandemic–great timing, am I right?
I am very good at meeting with people in person. Over the years, I have perfected my in-person consultations – what to say and how to say it – and love being able to connect to people and show them my work in person. This gave me an advantage with local couples and my business flourished.
But when a fabulous opportunity for my husband in my hometown compelled us to move 200 miles away, that advantage became a disadvantage. I had spent 15 years focusing solely on local couples, and I was no longer local to them. When we first moved, I continued to travel to Pittsburgh once a month to meet with prospective clients, and that worked out great. In fact, I planned on doing that indefinitely, as it allowed me to continue tapping into that market as a “local” stationer. And then COVID happened, making traveling to another state to meet with people in person no longer a viable option.
In hindsight, if I hadn’t focused so completely on local clients and instead had marketed myself to both local couples AND non-local couples, I would be in a much better position now that I’ve moved and the coronavirus is preventing most in-person meetings. Now I’m hustling to try to rebuild my business in anew market, while attempting to maintain my presence in my former city, and also reach people on a national level. The struggle is real, my friends
Spill the Tea
what are you doing to maintain work/life balance?
This is something that is a constant struggle for all business owners, especially those who are also parents. I have a daughter in third grade and a son in first grade who are in a hybrid-style school due to COVID. On the three days a week that they are doing remote learning, I stay at home with them, answering 8 million questions and trying to answer emails and design in the spare minutes I can grab here and there.
On the two days a week that they go to school, I go into my lovely studio space, turn on some music I like, and focus completely on my own work. Thankfully I can get so much done on those days without distractions that I don’t have to work into the night, with the exception of some invitation assembly from time to time.
if you could give one piece of advice to smoeone just starting out, what would it be?
Do the hard work. It’s not enough to be a good designer, you have to be good at the business side, too. Network with other pros, research to find the best vendors, set up systems for billing and accounting, and treat social media like a job.
How Do You PRO?
HOW DO YOU SELL YOUR CLIENTS ON WAX SEALS?
I find that I attract clients who are interested in wax seals by posting about them on social media frequently. Most of the images I post to Instagram include a wax seal and I post a lot of wax seal videos as well. Because of this, I rarely have to “sell” my clients on them–they want them from the get go!
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR YOUR FELLOW STATIONERS ON SELLING WAX SEALS?
Showcase wax seals frequently and in a variety of ways: on invitations, on envelopes, on place cards, on menus, etc. They’ll see how versatile wax seals are and won’t be able to live without them!
Creating Your Own Styling Surface
Flat lays are an important part of showcasing your work. It’s not always practical to have your work professionally photographed so it is very important to figure out how to style flat lays yourself. It all starts with a great background, and I have a great trick to make them at very low cost!
Get yourself a large piece of foam board, a small container of lightweight spackling compound from a paint store, and a spackling knife. You’ll also need paint in whatever color you want the backdrop to be, in a matte finish so it doesn’t reflect the light in your photos. Neutral colors work best as backgrounds so that your stationery can be the star. A creamy white and a dark gray are great colors to start with!
Use your spackling knife to apply the spackle to the foam board any way you want. Have fun with it! The more bumps and ridges you have, the more interesting it will be when you’re finished. Let it dry completely, then add your paint. That’s literally it, and now you have a gorgeous backdrop for all those flat lays you’re going to do!
Thank you, Kimberly!
Kimberly – Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, being so open, and teaching us how to create our very own styling mats! We are looking forward to Part two next week!
Pro Partners – Don’t forget to connect with Kimberly on Instagram here!
The ARTISAIRE PRO Team