by Megan Nutley of Silhouette Blue
My stationery business came about a little on accident. I always loved paper goods, and knew that I wanted to design greeting cards. However, I always assumed this would be something I did as a hobby in my spare time.
Then, in my final semester of college in 2006, it came time to make plans for my Senior Design Project. I met with my advisor and told her that I wanted to design a greeting card line, and Silhouette Blue was born! I spent the next several months creating my first line, which was a set of 30 greeting cards featuring silhouettes inspired by vintage photography. The overachiever in me took it a little father, and I decided on a name, made business cards and designed a very rudimentary website to supplement my project. At opening night at the gallery I made my first sale, and my business had started almost without me knowing it.
During this time, my cousin was making plans for her wedding. She called me before graduation, asking if I would consider designing and making her wedding invitations. Once we started working together, I knew this was what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
I initially funded Silhouette Blue with my $400 tax return check. That’s it. I luckily already had a decent printer, so I spent the money on business cards, paper, envelopes and packaging. Over the next few months, I hunted down friends and friends of friends who were getting married. Every time I was paid at the end of a job, I invested the money right back into the business and bought a few more supplies, tools and pieces of equipment. By taking it slowly, I was able to grow my business without going into debt.
The first turning point was when a friend of my mom’s offhandedly mentioned that she would love to have personalized stationery made for Christmas gifts. Ding ding ding! I started with six designs, and sold them mostly to my mom’s friends during the holiday season. I don’t know if I would be where I am now without that one great idea.
The second turning point was opening my Etsy shop in November 2007. I listed some Christmas cards and about a dozen stationery designs, and made my first sale a within a few hours. I knew that I was onto something, and decided to invest as much time as possible into perfecting my shop. In May 2009, due to my success on Etsy, I was able to quit my part time job to run Silhouette Blue full time. What started as a college design project is now my dream job – I get to make personalized stationery, greeting cards, and wedding invitations at home in my pajamas.