Hi PRO Partners!
We couldn’t be more excited to introduce Camille of Robinson Creative House to the Spotlight this week! Designer of the new and beloved North Pole Post design, Creative Community Member, business owner, and adrenaline junky are just a few of Camille’s titles! To learn more about Camille’s journey and how Camille is using polaroids to help her business, keep reading…
Hello! My name is Camille Robinson and I am the owner and designer behind Robinson Creative house (formerly Robinson Paperie). I’m based out of Seattle, Washington but work with clients all over the United States, Canada and even internationally.
I started in 2014 as a creative outlet and nothing more. I graduated in 2009 in one of the worst economic recessions with a degree in Marketing from the Foster Business School at the University of Washington, but spent several years bouncing around from job to job trying to find out what branch of marketing I liked the most AND not being too picky because, well, it was work.
My identical twin sister at the time was working at a graphic design firm in Seattle and I was so envious of the daily “creative” tasks she was working on. She was actually looking to leave and pursue photography full time and was offering couples her talent as a graphic designer – so she would shoot your wedding AND design your wedding invitations. Once the photography part picked up, she asked me to help her with some of the design work and I instantly fell in love. Two months later I opened up at Etsy shop “just to see what would happen” and it took off. I had to close the store down because I couldn’t keep up with orders but that’s when I knew I needed to make a plan to change my career path.
three fun facts about you
- I am 100% Polish and first generation American. Both my parents and entire extended family are from Poland, but we (all three kids) were born here in the United States and were raised bilingual.
- I am an identical twin. She is also in the wedding industry as a photographer and is one of the reasons I do what I do!
- I am an adrenaline junkie – bungee jumping, cliff diving, skydiving, I’ve done it 🙂
Spill the Tea
WHAT WAS THE PIVOTAL MOMENT WHEN YOU DECIDED TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I learned to handletter as part of a physical therapy regimen after a horrific dog bite incident in 2011. I wont get into details, but the accident required two reconstructive surgeries of my right hand and I had to completely re-learn how to hold a pen/write (I’m right handed).
My therapist would have me do calligraphy in the air with my wrist at first to gain mobility, and then she had me practice drills with pen on paper to start to work on muscle memory and strength in my hand and fingers. I honestly was horrible at it at first, but I started to LOVE that part of my day. I honestly chalk up that awful incident to playing a really large role in my own mental health and the start of my business!
What do you find to be the hardest thing about running your own business and what are you doing to manage this?
Delegation and not trying to do it all. I have always been a fiercely independent person, but it definitely has manifested itself into “perfectionism” with my business.
I am working on being more verbal with what I need help with and making sure that I am keeping my assistant busy. I constantly fall into the trap of “oh I can just do this quickly on my own,” but am learning that if I just teach my assistant to do something, she can handle it and SHOULD handle it so I can focus on other things.
A Day in the Life
What does your typical workday look like?
I usually start with my LARGE cup of coffee and spend about 30 minutes answering any pressing email and making my to-do list for the day.
I am a firm believer that you should never tackle more than 3 large design tasks a day so you don’t burn out. So, this might include getting a design deck started for client #1, doing a revision of some branding materials for client #2, and lettering envelopes for client #3.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Don’t expect your business to flourish overnight. Invest in yourself – educational seminars, a business coach, networking events, the RIGHT programs. I see a lot of designers out there struggling because while they are good at the design part, they lack the running the business side. It’s not always easy, but the willingness to figure it out is priceless. Google things. Watch videos. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to get it wrong (Hello, taxes!). It’s all part of the process and will make you a better business owner down the road.
Camille: The Teacher
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you first started in stationery?
Oh gosh, SO MANY THINGS!
Mockups and their importance. I never used to design things together on the same artboard in Illustrator, and would just send the client the invitation separately from the rsvp card, separately from the envelope, etc. I just didn’t know how to do it any differently and it wasn’t until I saw someone else doing it that way that I had my “aha!” moment.
It now makes it SO much easier for my client to process the design as a whole, make changes, and see things come together. There’s no more convincing “I promise this will look good all together.” It seems like something fairly simple, but when I started to change the way I presented the design to the client, it saved me time, it saved me rounds of edits, it saved me emails, it basically was the best efficiency change I made for my business.
What is one stationery tool that you can’t live without and why?
Dubsado! Hands down the best CRM tool. If you didn’t know, I also run a print shop on my website that offers custom illustrations, house portraits, watercolor, etc. and it was becoming nearly impossible to keep it all straight. Dubsado keeps me sane. I can track all my clients, their invoice, design drafts, stages we are in, payments, emails, EVERYTHING. I never have to go search for something in my email ever again. Dubsado! Hands down the best CRM tool.
If you didn’t know, I also run a print shop on my website that offers custom illustrations, house portraits, watercolor, etc. and it was becoming nearly impossible to keep it all straight. Dubsado keeps me sane. I can track all my clients, their invoice, design drafts, stages we are in, payments, emails, EVERYTHING. I never have to go search for something in my email ever again.
give us your best piece of advice!
Create relationships with other vendors. I hear/get asked a lot where my work comes from and while Instagram IS a great resource (and responsible for about 75% of my inquiries), it’s also important to actually network. Take someone to coffee. Set up a Zoom call. Participate in a styled shoot with a new vendor team solely to meet them. A lot of couples suffer from decision fatigue and I find they will ALWAYS ask other vendors if they have recommendations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sang our DJ’s praises and I have literally nothing to do with the music part of a wedding 🙂
Also, while I do get a lot of leads through Instagram or Pinterest most of them either fall off the wagon or are unable to afford the custom stationery investment. I find that wedding planners are the angels of lead generation. Not only are they guiding their clients through ALL the wedding planning, they are more often than not going to recommend someone they have worked with before or have a good relationship with. I also find that almost all of my clients that come through planners have already been vetted on budget and aesthetic (a win-win in my book!) so we really can just chat design and not do the song and dance around the budget and what I can and can’t do as a designer. So if you haven’t reached out to a planner, do it. I promise it’s worth it!
Favorite stationery trend, tip, or trick?
Send a set of the invitation suite to the photographer for the wedding. I pack up two extra copies of everything, and add in some styling trinkets like extra vintage stamps, some ribbon, etc. I also include a polaroid snap of the pieces styled together as inspiration for how to lay them out. Not every photographer knows how to flat lay, so why not give them some help!
Favorite place to add Wax Seals?
Where do you go for inspiration?
Nature, architecture, destinations. A lot of my work (especially my semi-custom line) is heavily influenced and named after places I’ve traveled. I pulled inspiration from the colors of the sunset, the ocean, the plant life, textiles, etc.