Episode 047: Show Notes
We are so excited today to have Johnny and Joanna on from Letterfolk Co on the show. They are amazing givers of knowledge and awesome business owners who make adorable felt and wood letter boards that you can put little quotes on and uniquely capture monthly milestones with. Bonus: they’re handmade in the United States! We reached out to them on a whim because they have such a beautiful Instagram and such an amazing business that we wanted to pick their brains, especially for you guys because they actually sell physical products. Not surprisingly, they have a ton of amazing nuggets of wisdom to share with you guys.
Over the last year and a half, Johnny and Joanna’s business has grown like gangbusters and in this episode we dive into the specifics about when they invested in branding, when they do stock versus custom packaging, what platforms they use, what software they’ve invested in, how they hired their first employee, and more. Plus, we get into all the decisions that went into the making of the company, specifically the mindset piece, which is probably the most important part! They are both so kind, so smart, and you are going to learn so much in this episode.
Getting to Know The “Folks” Behind Letterfolk
Before Letterfolk, Johnny and Joanna had never ventured into the physical product world. They were both liberal arts majors, Johnny studied advertising and was a copywriter by trade, and Joanna was a copy editor. Johnny had never really been crazy about working for other people, but never thought that he or Joanna were necessarily entrepreneurial by birth. However, he knew that he just wasn’t responding well to working with other people. Letterfolk just happened to be the perfect answer at that moment, and instead of putting a downpayment on their house, they decided to use the money to give their business a kickstart.
Exploring the Letterfolk Journey
After their first daughter was born, Johnny and Joanna wanted to be the best parents they could be and took about a million photos of her, tracking her growth and documenting everything. After a long search to make the milestone photos more interesting with lettering boards, they realized that there was a gap in the market and began thinking about a way that they could fill it. After getting great feedback from friends and seeing the demand, they invested a whole $25,000 into purchasing their first order of product. Yes, that’s right, $25,000!
Building a Home-Grown, Premium Brand
From the start, Johnny and Joanna knew that they would have to build a premium brand in order to make their business sustainable. All of their products are handmade in the US, which drives up their costs quite a bit, so getting their brand to that premium level was critical for them. They needed a professional logo, a planned color scheme, and an overall brand feel to build trust with potential clients. They also spent a lot of time thinking through a client’s first interaction with their brand and what kind of experience they wanted to create for their customers as they were opening their packages.
Investing in Systems to Streamline Your Business
One of the most important things when streamlining and growing your business is to understand the associated opportunity cost with every business activity. The countless hours that Johnny and Joanna spent packaging their products was precious time taken away from working on the business and growing the brand. They realized early on that if they wanted to succeed, they were going to need to invest in things that made their lives easier and gave them more time to focus on the bigger picture. Building up internal systems allows you to easily replace someone who leaves the team without losing any real time, letting the process continue. This is key to working on the business and not in it. However, in order to step away and hand over the roles in your business, you need to first systematize your processes so that you can easily step away and focus on growing your business instead.
Hiring, Outsourcing, and Knowing When It’s Right
For Johnny and Joanna, their first hire was to get help with packaging. They had two employees come in part-time to focus solely on packaging, freeing up critical aspects of their time. Success here is truly about recognizing those activities that literally only you can do, and hiring or outsourcing the universal or general tasks. If you’ve established what you like and don’t like to do, that can also be an indicator of where it may be a good idea to outsource a specific business activity. Keep in mind that there are some things that literally only you can do, and those are exactly the things that you need to be spending your time on. Outsourcing or hiring someone to come alongside you is critical to get you past the breaking point and allow you to shift your focus towards working on the business, not in it.
- Learn more about Johnny and Joanna, the folks behind Letterfolk. [0:03:27.3]
- Hear the story of how Letterfolk got started and why they chose to invest $25,000 in product. [0:06:17.9]
- Find out how Johnny and Joanna built up a premium brand to fit their product costs. [0:10:50.4]
- Understand how to streamline your business by investing in systems and strategies. [0:22:48.8]
- Learn what to look for when analyzing new potential hires for the business. [0:31:18.4]
- Take the necessary risks in order for your business to grow. It's scary, but you can stay stagnant, or take the risks and grow.
- Be 100% transparent about who you are and what you’re doing.
- Humanize your business; Use Instagram stories to give people insight into the heartbeat behind your logo.