Greeting cards can be found in all kinds of stores. You won’t, however, find the kinds of greeting cards that Amy James makes in any ordinary retail location.
Amy and her husband, Jesse, are the proud small business owners of a startup company called Amy Social Butterfly, LLC. It is located in Grand Prairie, Texas and is run right out of the couple’s home. Amy handmakes and sells customizable greeting cards for all occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. Unlike traditional cards that fit into envelopes, her creations are 3D cards made with butterflies, silk flowers and other neat decorations that make them come to life.
According to Amy, she said she was inspired to start up the small business after attending an event in her area where vendors offered handcrafted items.
“You could sell whatever you could make there,” she said. “I made 100 greeting cards thinking I might sell a handful. I sold all of them in 2 hours and couldn’t believe how much people liked them.”
Most of the cards she makes are packaged in small boxes because of their size. She uses various types of card stock and patterned paper to make them. She usually puts a sticker on the front that denotes what the card is for – “Happy Birthday” or “Happy Anniversary” – but the cards are left blank inside to leave room for a nice note.
Amy, who also works as a full-time accounting professional, said she’s always enjoyed making these kinds of cards in her spare time. She said she likes seeing the nice expressions on the faces of those who get them.
“I like to make people smile and see them happy just by giving them something so simple,” she said. “It also makes me feel happy when I sit down and make them. I had thought about donating them to retirement centers and other places for people to enjoy them. I had no idea it would take off like it has.”
To make the small business successful, she said it’s all about the time and effort she and Jesse devote to it.
“I put a lot of my thought into it and think of what will make people happy,” she said. “It’s good quality, and hopefully people will recognize that and will want to come back for more.”
While most small business owners endure some competition in their markets, Amy is confident she’s found a specific niche.
“From what I know, nobody really sells what I offer, or at least I haven’t seen it anywhere,” she said. “The butterflies and little items I put on the cards make them pretty unique.”
Advertising and marketing are essential for a large percentage of small companies. For Amy and Jesse, they are working with a web developer to help them establish a presence on the Internet. Professional networking has also been helpful to let others know about her business.
“When I changed jobs and joined a new company, people from my old company have been calling me up and asked, ‘Can you make me a special birthday card?’”
The Jameses are no exception to the rule that all newly crowned small business owners face some challenges in the startup phase and throughout the life of a business.
“Figuring out how we’re going to actually run the company has been a little tough,” Amy said. “It’s also been challenging to get through all the paperwork and forms to make sure we get set up properly. We’ve never done this before.”
Tips for Aspiring Small Business Owners
Amy’s advice to entrepreneurs looking to take the dive is to have a true drive and passion for something.
“You have to be willing and motivated,” she said. “This is something you have to want to do. It really has to come from your heart. It should be a dream or a goal that you’ve had for a long time.”
She added that there is lots of risk involved, but it can be a rewarding experience in the end.
“You have to understand it won’t go smoothly upfront. Patience is a big part of it as well. To me, I feel it’s an experience – something fun and different. I have lots of people behind me, like 1-800Accountant.”
She discussed some of the pros and cons of running a company.
“You get to do what you love to do whenever you want to do it,” she said. “On the other hand, you have to be disciplined so that you don’t waste your time. It can be easy to start doing other things instead of business-related activities.”
The Jameses came to 1-800Accountant through an event they attended. Amy said they were completely unfamiliar with how to start a small business and what is involved with the financial side of it, even though she and her husband both have a background in the accounting field.
“We had no clue how to even get started,” Amy said. “1-800Accountant has been so helpful by giving us so much information and guiding us through everything.”