This Wedding Wednesday, we bring you the inspiring story of IvoryMint, AKA Katie Edwards. Here, the graphic designer explains how time spent travelling in Asia helped her realise her true calling: to create beautiful wedding stationery for couples crazy in love! But making a success of your wedding stationery business doesn’t happen by accident. Katie shares with us her tips on blogging, social media, and borrowing business expertise to build a livelihood that is creatively fulfilling and really rather romantic.
I get a lot of old friends asking me what I’m up to nowadays. This is understandable because up until the beginning of this year I had been living in Australia for twelve months and travelling around South-East Asia for four. I am proud to tell them that during a few extended coffee breaks somewhere between Thailand and Singapore, I managed to set up a wedding stationery design business, which has always been a dream of mine.
Having received a degree in Graphic Design and worked on a variety of design jobs, it wasn’t until I started saving up to travel around Australia and Asia that I found my calling. A friend of the family asked me to design her wedding invitations, and it was while working with her to create something unique and beautiful for her special day that I realised that I had found what I wanted to do. It was really enjoyable to work with an excited bride, much more so than with a corporate client, and playing a part in her wedding made it feel even more special.
There is a large and growing start-up scene in Thailand fuelled by fast, free wifi and cheap coffee shops. Many digital nomads are out there taking advantage of the cheap cost of living to work on their own projects. Whilst in Chiang Mai I decided to take a month break from travelling to focus on ideas to see if I too, could find a way of making a living doing what I enjoy most – being creative. It was during this ‘month out’ that IvoryMint was born. From previous experience I knew I didn’t have much of a ‘business head’. I was always more interested in making nice things while important things like making money took a back seat. Fortunately, though, my partner has helped me through the ‘boring’ parts of starting a business, with his analytical mind and experience in business.
I started off selling designs on Etsy.com, which was a great way to experiment and get in front of a large audience. However, there’s a lot of competition and I felt like I wanted to stand out and create my own online shop. We bought the domain name and set up on Shopify, which was a really quick and easy way to get started with a shopping website.
From there, it was a case of working on my designs so that I’d have enough on the site to make visiting it worthwhile. It was great having so much inspiration from my travels. I even managed to collaborate with a Thai artist who was selling his work in the form of postcards in a market.
The next hurdle was getting people to visit the site. There are so many social networking platforms that even now it blows my mind! Having friends who work in marketing has been extremely helpful in pointing me in the right direction. I started with Facebook and Twitter accounts. It’s important that I update them regularly to make us worth following/liking. Now I am also signed up to Pinterest, which is a great way to show off your own designs but also to re-pin other inspiring designs whether they be wedding related or not. We now have an Instagram account and a blog. I found that the blog is not only a great way of drawing people to the site with relevant information and an interesting read but it also goes a long way to help with SEO, which in turn helps you move up the rankings on Google. We are also using Google Adwords, though I am yet to fully get my head around it!
Another way we gained attention was by holding a competition. Entrants had to fill in a quick questionnaire about their wedding plans and would then be in with a chance of winning a full wedding set for 100 guests. Not only was it a good way of driving people to the site but it also gave me valuable insight into my customer base and has helped me to customise my site and designs accordingly.
We offer free samples on the site to give potential clients a chance to see the print and paper quality whilst also giving them a physical reminder of who we are. It helps to keep us in their minds while they decide who to buy from.
It is still early days for us, but I’m proud to say that I am now working in a job that I am absolutely in love with. I get to be creative, I get to make beautiful things and it goes a little way towards making people happy.