If you haven't noticed, I am a big fan of fun, colorful stationery and great business ideas. Nicely Noted is a subscription service that offers just that: stylish cards (with postage stamps!) you can have delivered directly to your mailbox each month. I'm excited to introduce you to Perry Nelson, the woman behind Nicely Noted, and hope you find inspiration in her story and pretty photos!
When did you open Nicely Noted and what inspired you to do so?
Nicely Noted launched in March of 2012 and was born out of a love of writing and receiving letters—in addition to a lifelong appreciation for beautiful stationery. My background in technology and design—as the Online Director for Dwell magazine, Online Editor at W magazine, and Site Design Account Manager at Dell—has only deepened my belief in the importance of old-fashioned, handwritten letters. The feeling of sitting down to write a note (with pen and paper!), choosing the stamp, and sending it off into the mail, brings a kind of thoughtfulness and care to our fast-paced lives.
The idea to create Nicely Noted came to me while walking my newly-acquired puppy, Charlie. Growing up, I was an avid pen pal and collected a plethora of stationery to fuel my letter writing habit. But as an adult, my stationery bin wasn’t nearly as stocked, and I always found myself trying to squeeze in a desperate trip to the gift store for every birthday party or baby shower. I thought that offering a few handpicked, letterpressed cards each month, complete with the stamps to send them, might be just they way to get folks practicing the wonderful art of letter writing again.
I’m happy to say that Nicely Noted helps people discover new designers and enjoy the convenience of having the perfect card on hand. You get to look forward to receiving a sweet care package each month, and you’ll pass that joy along to the recipients of all of your letters!
What inspires your card choices?
I curate the Nicely Noted collections from existing card designs by talented letterpress card designer and printers. My aesthetic is inspired by a wide range of influences from fashion and architecture to my day to day surroundings. I am drawn to simple clean lines and bright, fun accents.
What is unique about Nicely Noted?
Nicely Noted curates letterpress cards that you would not likely find at your local card shop and we select beautiful stamps from the USPS. Our offering is unique because of the contents of the collection as well as in that we provide an easy reminder to send more handwritten notes.
What was the greatest challenge you faced during your first year in business?
Balancing my day job and working on Nicely Noted.
What has been your most exciting sale or learning experience?
A highlight was when Jessica Biel tweeted about how much she enjoys her Nicely Noted deliveries...I like to joke that subscribers boyfriend's receive the same cards as Justin Timberlake.
What is the best business advice you've received?
Focus on growing your core product rather than getting distracted by one-off marketing projects.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
No two days are the same. I am often working from my office (aka second bedroom) which is a lovely spot. I have a big bay window that overlooks a couple trees and my dog, Charlie, naps in the chairs and keeps an eye on the passersby. Other days I am running errands to pick up the belly bands from the printer and delivering supplies to the fulfillment house or working from a coworking space downtown. I also make time to get out of the house a few days a week to meet another entrepreneur for coffee or have lunch with a friend.
How do you stay connected to your customers?
I am in touch with customers daily via email and Instagram. I get great feedback from what they post. I've conducted a couple surveys to get broader insights, but also hear individual feedback on which cards or stamps people love or don't.
How do you balance work and home life?
Oh, I'm not sure this is a strength of mine. Because my office is at home, it's hard to tear myself away from my desk. I make a conscious effort to eat some meals away from my desk but my office is my favorite room in my house since there is so much light and creative inspiration around.
What has been the most rewarding part of owning a small business?
It is really rewarding to hearing customers say how much the look forward to their Nicely Noted collection each month. It's wonderful to provide a service that people enjoy. It encourages me to know that many people wish they sent more handwritten notes, that they appreciate the reminder and that it actually makes them take the action of sending more notes!
Can you recommend any books or resources to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I frequently turn to Quora for questions about which vendor or tool is the best for a specific challenge. The related questions and topic areas make it a great place to learn background information to inform further research or ask educated questions of the vendors you are considering.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to start an online business?
You do not have to spend a ton of money to hire a developer to get a website set up. You can get a proof of concept or minimum viable product live to see if there is interest before you invest in hiring a designer or developer.
On the other hand, my business probably wouldn't be where it is without the gorgeous product photography I had on the early version of my site, so I recommend finding a great photographer to capture your product. Since you can't actually touch the product online, the images of it need to represent it very well. I was fortunate to make friends with my awesome photographer, Kate LeSueur, while walking Charlie. Sometimes the universe send you just what you need to take the next step!