Friday, January 6, 2012

New line!!

I'm all about the saying that what you make happen for others the same will happen for you! Well I came across this young ladies stationery line through a random google search! I fell in love with the style! it's fresh,modern and new and oh so funky!! I hope that you enjoy this interview that i also found through another seach courtesy of google:))


Morehead’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2003, when she unexpectedly became the belle of the ball. While serving as a board member for her local Urban League chapter, Morehead was tasked with coordinating the guest list and invitations for the organization’s annual gala. But when she discovered that funds for the event had already been allocated to other line items, rendering her unable to hire a graphic designer, she ended up creating the invitations herself.

Over the next few years, she would occasionally dabble in creating customized pieces for friends and family members, but it wasn’t until December 2010, during the holiday season, that she started seriously thinking about how to turn her hobby into a lucrative business.

“I’ve always been the hostess/event planner of the group, and when I would research invitations for people of color, I found the offerings were all the same, with outdated images or stereotypical expressions,” said Morehead. “And it wasn’t until I started getting repeat requests to create one-of-a-kind stationery that the light finally went off for me that this might actually work.”

It was this series of events that led Allyson to officially launch Sweet Potato Paper, a line of customized multicultural invitations for weddings, bridal showers, baptisms, parties and more this past summer.

“I wanted to create invitations that celebrated one’s culture—not image—and that were modern and unique in style,” said Morehead.

To that effect, Sweet Potato Paper gives clients the ability to create personalized packages based on the traits, trends, and experiences celebrated in their own backyard—such as hairstyles, skin tones and expressions.

Although the company, run from Morehead’s Upper Marlboro, MD home, with a satellite office in D.C. is still in its infancy, they’ve enjoyed a steadily increasing amount of sales success since the launch.

Allyson recently sat down with Madame Noire to talk about what it’s like to enter an established market, how she’s juggling a full-time job and a side-venture and what’s next for Sweet Potato Paper
Morehead’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2003, when she unexpectedly became the belle of the ball. While serving as a board member for her local Urban League chapter, Morehead was tasked with coordinating the guest list and invitations for the organization’s annual gala. But when she discovered that funds for the event had already been allocated to other line items, rendering her unable to hire a graphic designer, she ended up creating the invitations herself.

Over the next few years, she would occasionally dabble in creating customized pieces for friends and family members, but it wasn’t until December 2010, during the holiday season, that she started seriously thinking about how to turn her hobby into a lucrative business.

“I’ve always been the hostess/event planner of the group, and when I would research invitations for people of color, I found the offerings were all the same, with outdated images or stereotypical expressions,” said Morehead. “And it wasn’t until I started getting repeat requests to create one-of-a-kind stationery that the light finally went off for me that this might actually work.”

It was this series of events that led Allyson to officially launch Sweet Potato Paper, a line of customized multicultural invitations for weddings, bridal showers, baptisms, parties and more this past summer.

“I wanted to create invitations that celebrated one’s culture—not image—and that were modern and unique in style,” said Morehead.

To that effect, Sweet Potato Paper gives clients the ability to create personalized packages based on the traits, trends, and experiences celebrated in their own backyard—such as hairstyles, skin tones and expressions.

Although the company, run from Morehead’s Upper Marlboro, MD home, with a satellite office in D.C. is still in its infancy, they’ve enjoyed a steadily increasing amount of sales success since the launch.

Allyson recently sat down with Madame Noire to talk about what it’s like to enter an established market, how she’s juggling a full-time job and a side-venture and what’s next for Sweet Potato Paper

MN: Prior to launching Sweet Potato Paper where did you work, and did you have a background in graphic design and print making?

I do not come from a traditional design background. In fact, I was a sociology major in college. But, I was lucky enough to have a colleague, at the American Friends Service Committee where I worked in California, teach me everything about the fundamentals of graphic design and how to use various software programs in her spare time.

Everything I’ve learned since then, I’ve taught myself through trial and error.

And prior to launching my company, I worked as the Director of Marketing for the Maryland Institute College of Art, where I am currently still employed.

MN: What inspired you to name the company Sweet Potato Paper?

I wanted the name to be fun and cute but still be something that meant something to me on a personal level.

So the inspiration to name the company Sweet Potato Paper came from the fond memory of my grandmother’s signature Sweet Potato Pies and I used a historical homage to George Washington Carver who used sweet potatoes to make both ink and paper.


Fingerprint Stationary from Sweet Potato Paper

MN: Are you a solo entrepreneur or do you have an in-house team?

I currently employ a small team of 4 that includes myself, a business manager, and two interns.

All of our printing is done with a large commercial printer, and we use a union-run printing company in Maryland, for any special invitation requests, such as one we had recently that required that the invites be made of wood.

MN: You’re going up against giants like Hallmark and American Greetings, which could be seen as an impassable barrier to entry. Both of those companies have lines targeted toward multicultural audiences. Do you view them as competition?

Initially, it was a recurring thought but I believe Sweet Potato Paper is much better positioned for success with a [polyethnic] audience.

The product that larger companies are selling is racially relevant, but it isn’t culturally relevant. For instance, you’d be hard-pressed to find stationery for interracial couples.

I think these companies are charting unfamiliar territory when it comes to dealing with culture because they don’t understand it and haven’t done the research to make sure that their product is resonating. It’s gotten to the point that my white friends won’t buy me a celebratory card that has any cultural references because they are afraid that one of them may be offensive.

My goal with Sweet Potato Paper was to create something that everyone could embrace.

MN: What were some of the barriers or obstacles you faced before, during and after the launch of your company?

Capital. Capital. Capital. And Time.

People want to be successful, but they never anticipate how to deal with what comes with success. We launched a few months ago and we’ve experienced a tremendous amount of support right out of the gate. And because I didn’t have the capital to expand popular product lines or areas of the business, I had to prioritize more, while trying to increase sales and still hold down my full-time job.

Now that I’ve seen the positive response to what we’re doing and have some idea about how to position the company, I’m getting to the point where I’ll start a dialogue with investors to figure out how to bring in the capital we need to organically grow the company and build the brand.

MN: Has it been hard trying to convert an audience that is increasing looking to digital-only companies to create their stationery?

Everyone is saying that the paper business is dead, but I beg to differ. In fact, the stationery market is expected to increase by 6 percent over the next five years and that growth will be evenly distributed between print and digital.

You’d be surprised that even with great online alternatives, people still want to touch and feel something. It’s really all about the total experience for an event and having a physical invitation enhances that. It’s kind of like getting flowers. Nowadays, when you get flowers, it stands out as a memory in your mind because it’s not that common.

It’s the same way with paper stationery and invitations. It adds a personal touch.

MN: What advice would you give someone who wanted to get into the stationery business?

Figure out what your brand aesthetic will be. And find mentors that can help you and give you business advice. When I knew that I was going to launch this company, I remember reaching out to people of color in the industry, but some of them were very protective of trade secrets and weren’t very supportive. So finding someone who has your best interests in mind and can guide you along the way is super important.

And know whether or not you want to do this as a hobby or a business. Because you need to think of everything you create as a tangible product and be open to criticism and collaboration to succeed.

MN: What’s the most important business lessons you’ve learned since launching Sweet Potato Paper?

Be realistic. And pace yourself.

You may have grand ideas about what you want your baby to become, and how you’re going to open up a storefront on the busiest street in your city, but then once the orders come in you realize just how much work it’s all going to be.

So the key is to set really good milestones, so that you can plan for the inevitable highs and lows. And so that you won’t be disappointed when things don’t happen immediately.

MN: You said earlier that you work from home. How do you manage to stay focused and motivated after coming home from your day job?

I don’t have a bed or a television.

When I first moved into my apartment, I was thinking about how everything was going to be set up and what type of bed I was going to get. But then I made the commitment to this company and I knew that if I got a comfortable bed, then I’d most likely want to sleep in it too.

So instead, I invested in a slightly uncomfortable futon and the rest of the space is set up like an office with a huge desk and several computers and printers. So essentially, I live in my office versus having an office in my house.

These were all deliberate choices that I made, because I want to be successful and eventually open a store. So I knew there’d be a sacrifice.

MN: How do you decompress when you’re not working your full-time job or your growing side-venture?

When I’m not working, which is rare, I try and focus entirely on doing things that I enjoy. This could mean pampering myself at the hair salon or the spa, spending time with my beau or traveling which is something that I absolutely love to do.

And once a month I host a brunch at a restaurant in DC with other women entrepreneurs. Most of them are artisans and creatives so we trade stories and tips and it becomes just another day on the town with your girlfriends.

MN: What’s next for Sweet Potato Paper?

We’re gearing up for the launch of our 2011 holiday collection and preparing to enter the digital invitation market in early 2012.

We are also beginning to film our new web series entitled, Sweet Life, which will serve as our outlet to answer frequently asked questions and provide stationery etiquette tips and tricks.

To purchase, visit www.sweetpotatopaper.com. Sweet Potato Paper can be found on Facebook at facebook.com/sweetpotatopaper and on Twitter @taterpaper.

Sakita Holley is the founder and CEO of House of Success, where she advises lifestyle brands on social media best practices, branding and traditional public relations strategies. Follow her on Twitter @MissSuccess.


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