January’s Woman Entrepreneur – Kerry Batty of K. Batty Design & Stationery

After a brief hiatus, the monthly Woman Entrepreneur series is making a come back…I think (I am working on my schedule for the rest of the year).

I am pleased to present the lovely Kerry Batty of K. Batty Design and Stationery for this month. She is a fellow {NewNew} team member who I got to know when I did my blogging workshop for team members back in October. Since our meeting, we’ve talked a bit, okay a lot, and will be working together in the blogsphere. We already kind of do as  writers for the NewNew Blog. Kerry in the future will be a guest blogger on my blog and I will be doing the same on hers.  Exciting, no? I think so! We are still working out the details so a formal announcement will be out soonish, but until then, I’ll leave you to read about Kerry, her work, and thoughts on being an entrepreneur.

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Hi! Please introduce yourself. Tell us your name, your company name, how long have you been in business and what is your business. 

Hello! My name is Kerry Batty. I am the creative director-accountant-coffee maker at my own little design & stationery business called K. Batty Design & Stationery. I’ve been in design for many years (more than 6!) but opened my Etsy shop to sell stationery as K. Batty in 2009.

How do you define “entrepreneur”?

Someone who works for themselves.  I think my definition is more about a mind set than what you actually do.

When did you first think you could be an entrepreneur?

I always new I could do it. I just didn’t know that I would do it. My parents & grandparents have all been entrepreneurs at some point, owning & running businesses of various kinds as I was growing up. My dad has run his veterinary practice my whole life right on our farm in North Carolina so I have always had him as an example and, watching him, I knew that I could create & manage my own business.

Did you have an “ah ha” moment? What was it?

I’ve had several on my journey to working for myself. My first one came when I realized that I could be a designer & make a living. My second came when I realized I didn’t have to work for any one person or agency to make that living. Freelancing was perfect for me because I liked the change of pace & projects.

But my ah ha moment for my current business was really more of an oh-no moment. Freelancing was great until I couldn’t get any. In a panic I took a full time job at a major ad agency as an art director, working with a good friend. Quickly I realized that the security I gained in a full time position was quickly lost in the toxic work environment. K. Batty Design & Stationery was born.

What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?

Hmmm…that’s a tough question. I am a natural leader so being an entrepreneur feels second nature to me. It’s a good feeling. I guess what I’m saying is that I like to be in charge. Ha!

What is your least favorite thing?

I do everything. I have to figure out what to do with my website, how to file my taxes. How to collect & pay sales tax & what forms do I need to fill out to do that. It’s tough to stay creative, develop designs AND do all the business-side things that I should be doing, like advertising.

What do you do when you feel the weight of being an entrepreneur? Not every day is great, how do you deal with this?

I know that tomorrow will be a new day. My grandfather used to say: Today is another day in which to excel.

Also, it helps to go for a run or take my dog for a walk. Bad days in your business can make you feel like you have the biggest problems in the world, especially if you are a company of 1. The change of scenery is a huge help, plus seeing other people, hearing their conversations…lends perspective.

Walk us through a typical day/week. Do you have a schedule on how you choose to focus on creating or the business side of things?

Ha, not sure that there is a typical week. I usually plan to work on blog posts Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays, knowing that I have an automated summary of posts going out to my mailing list on Friday morning.

The rest really depends on what my client projects are & what stage of completion they are in at the moment. I check in on those first thing in the morning & set my day around what stage they are in. Do I need to send proofs to the client today? Get print quotes? Order materials? Develop more options? Make envelope liners?

If those projects are wrapping up, I spend my morning checking email & blog reading, then my afternoon working on my Etsy shop. Products always need to be updated, relisted, and further developed.

Do you work a full-time job? If so, what do you do? Does it interfere with your business? How do you balance these?

My husband is a sales & marketing consultant & is currently in the middle of several things. I manage his business (read: collect the money!) and also act as his design team & business partner. We joke around that I am the COO, the CTO, the CCO & have started introducing me as his “power wife.” Believe me, it’s a full plate.

How do you keep yourself focused? 

I know that stressing out will get ZERO off my plate. So, I set myself small tasks – usually a series of 3 things that are the next 3 things I need to do. Also I give myself permission to put things off until tomorrow. I won’t do anything well if I don’t give something my full attention.

How do you keep yourself creative?

Reading design blogs that have nothing to do with stationery is awesome. A good home DIY or craft post is great. Also, going for a walk. I try not to operate in a vaccum all the time. If I sit inside at my computer ALL day, it stifles my creativity.

Who is your personal hero and why?

I have 2. My parents. They have shown me what it really means to grow as a person. Watching them has provided me with valuable lessons in life. Sometimes about what to do…sometimes about what not to do…

Ok, I have 3. My husband. He is stronger than he realizes & never lets fear of a big risk stop him from taking it. Plus, he taught me to be calm in my decision-making. He tells me: There is always enough time to make the right decision.

Who is your business hero and why?

I would echo my answer from above, plus add that women today amaze me. As does the small business communities that we participate in. I am fortunate that so many women have started & run successful small businesses. They are not only willing to share their experiences, but coach others in their businesses. Yeah for me!

How have you found success? How do you measure it?

Yes, I think so & in many ways. One of the greatest forms of success for me in 2011 was having so many referrals from friends & family. They love me, I know, but to send their business to me & their friends’ business is a huge compliment. Also I participated in my first craft fair. Ever. I sold a lot of cards & the feedback was endlessly helpful.

What does your business offer the world that is unique?

Me. I’m the only one who has me – my unique skill set.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

Key West?? Ha!

I see myself with a custom invitation book that I sell to retail shops. I see other people writing my blog. I see my business with my husband booming.

As an entrepreneur and business woman how do you view sustainable enterprise? Is this a concern for you now? If not, are you considering it for the future?

I view it the same way I do in my personal life – if you can take steps to help the environment, why wouldn’t you? I am concerned about it & do what I can to purchase recycled paper & other materials, plus to know how I get rid of materials (like printer cartridges) when their product life is over.

How do you view money? Do you work to live, or live to work(If this is too personal, you don’t have to answer. I’m more curious if view it as a MUST, or if it’s okay to have less as long as your happy. That kind of thing.)

I am always aware of the bottom line. But, I try not to let it run my life too much.

Let’s talk about pricing. How do you price? How do you deal with competitors pricing? How do you respond to requests for discounts/deals? What advice do you have for new entrepreneurs in this area?

I use a standard retail model: cost of materials x 2 = my price. But, I really just use that number as a starting point. I am constantly checking what’s selling, what my competitors are offering & at what price. Then I try to price my product similarly. Sometimes that means sourcing cheaper materials or marking my work up a little more.

Discounts & deals – I offer them all the time & don’t find them much of a driver to purchases, though I think they do drive traffic to my shop. I always offer a discount to my custom clients who purchase in large quantities.

Advice: DO YOUR RESEARCH!!! Look for several vendors for your materials. Know what your competition is offering & where they sell. Also, I have to say that I’ve met several other stationery makers who were more than happy to talk about how they got to where they are & offered help & advice to me. So, recognize that competitors can be resources & friends.

What is your guiding philosophy? What piece of advice do you want to share with other entrepreneurs or have them take away from your experience?

First, starting a business is scary no matter how you’ve planned for it. But it will be worth it.

Second,  2 years in I still get overwhelmed by the amount of things I need…or want…to get accomplished in a day. Working for yourself will probably mean working harder than you did when you worked for someone else, but take it in small pieces & you’ll get the work done.

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Told you she is lovely! Thank you Kerry!

Readers, stay tuned for next month’s woman entrepreneur.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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