Today’s Biz Ladies profile comes to us from Victoria Vu of Paper and Type. As an architectural designer, Victoria always followed visual creative pursuits. Although her first invitation designs were a fun hobby to begin with, she eventually started getting enough inquires to launch her own small design business. Today she shares a bit about her creative journey and about how she continues to run her business with the same ethos of versatility and delicate playfulness that she first started with. Thank you, Victoria, for giving us this glimpse into your career path. –Stephanie
Read the full interview after the jump…
Why did you decide to start your own business?
It wasn’t my intention to establish Paper & Type. I was working full time as an architectural designer and I just enjoyed designing invitations on the side. One invitation led to another, and another. Then a desire to create a place for these projects to live, paired with an inclination to have a business of my own, prompted the push to make it official.
When you first decided to start your own business, how did you define what your business would be?
At the moment I decided to put a name to my work, I knew I wanted a name that was honest and simple. I arrived at “Paper & Type” very quickly. It felt like a fitting description of my current work while not limiting the definition of what my work could evolve to be, in terms of both product and content. Figuring out the voice that would define Paper & Type took some time and trials, but I found myself keeping in pursuit of versatility and delicate playfulness. With my readymade goods in particular, I wanted my work to nudge people to write thoughtfully, to enjoy correspondence.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting off?
Be kind to your peers. This was more of an example set rather than advice given, but it left a big impression on me and has led me to an enriching, creative community.
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
Finding the time to do everything was and is a constant challenge. It can get so overwhelming that creating space for client work, personal projects, administrative tasks, my architecture job, and personal life takes serious scheduling. It gets too serious, sometimes.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in running a business?
In reference to the previous answer, these lessons: learning to say no, learning to ask for help, learning to relax expectations!
Can you name a moment of failure in your business experiences?
A couple years ago I received a wholesale inquiry from a major retailer that I loved. I was so dumbstruck by their interest that I became nervous about replying. I let the inquiry go unanswered for too long.
Can you name your greatest success in your business experiences?
I really love to hear from customers about their experiences with my stationery. One fellow from the UK wrote of his plan to use Little Notes to ask a girl out on a date. I hope it worked.
What business books/resources would you recommend to someone starting a creative business of their own?
I have a couple go-tos on the web: Breanna Rose shares her thoughts and know-how on working for yourself in a series called Be Free, Lance. I also enjoy Red Lemon Club’s weekly, positive posts about thriving as a creative. Finally, I recommend tapping the knowledge of creative business owners who came before you: friends, family members, a former boss, or mentor!
In your opinion, what are the top three things someone should consider before starting their own business?
Important considerations should include: what unique perspective you bring to your industry, how the role of being a business owner will fit into your lifestyle (both currently and ideally), who your audience is and how best to connect with them.