Emily McDowell is a writer, illustrator, and entrepreneur who specializes in chronicling the human condition.
In 2012, she left a successful career in advertising to launch her greeting card line, making cards for the relationships we actually have. Now a multimillion-dollar stationery and gift company, Emily McDowell Studio products are sold online and in nearly 2,000 stores worldwide.
In 2015, Emily’s Empathy Cards, designed to help people connect around serious illness and loss, struck a nerve around the world and gave people a way into conversations that seemed brutally hard to begin and deepen into.
Her first book, There Is No Good Card For This: What To Say and Do When Life Gets Scary, Awful, and Unfair To People You Love, will be released in January 2017.
In today's conversation, we take a step back in time, explore the experiences in her younger life that were defining moments, revealing who she really was and how Emily began to connect with an irreverent blend of art and humor that touches so many.
We explore what happened when she was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age and watched friends struggle to figure out how to be there for her. We dive into how she compartmentalized this experience, seeking to not let it define her, both as a person and, soon enough in art and business. We also track the launch and growth of her company and her recent move to rework the business in order to not just serve a "customer" need, but also give her what she needs, the ability to do the work that most lights her up.
Mentioned in this Episode:
The 108: Conscious Business Collective - Entrepreneurship is lonely. To build what you're here to build, not just in business but in life, you need people. Nobody does it alone. The 108 is a conscious business collective of entrepreneurs helping each other rise. Move into 2017 with a powerful new family of allies, mentors, champions and collaborators as you work to build a living and a life on a profoundly different level. Learn more now.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey, it's Jonathan one of the things I've learned over the years is that the
never again part of our community or what I called conscious entrepreneurs and what a mean by that is its folks who are
Andrews and that could be of a business, more innovation foundation, private practice, anything like that. They have three things.
was in common one
that you serve a genuine need. You really solve a problem and you deliver that and get paid for it, and so solving a problem and generating real profit is important to you. The second is that
what you create actually serves as a true vehicle for the expression of your strengths, your value,
beliefs and your voice. So it lets you step in to your fullest potential and the third,
is that there's something bigger happening here, you're part of something bigger and you're serving some bigger need, and that's what I call a conscious.
And we've created all sorts of experiences programs courses over the earth
designed to serve conscious business founders in a variety of ways and
he's in things have happened. We put pretty much everything on hiatus this year, because we wanted to really deconstruct what we were doing and figure out how to bring more people together to serve them on a higher level, because what we found
Is that not only do people need information and great advice and strategy and support
there's a tremendous amount of isolation and loneliness for so many people who are in the business of founding conscious businesses and we want to create.
True community, so we've been at work
for the better part of the year, and I'm really excited to share that. We are now live with this really powerful new experience. It's called the one hundred and eight
and it is a conscious business collective and
if you want to know what that's all about, if you want to figure out whether
it's in any way, something that would be interesting for you. Then you can either just click on the link in the show notes,
or just ahead on over to good life project dot com slash.
The one hundred and eight that's the and then the number one hundred and eight check it out see if it feels right to you
It does then awesome and if not
then thank you for listening and I'm going to kick it over
to today's guest thanks so much the it took me a while. I mean it really took me a while to figure out how I wanted to be in the world and like what of my wants, were responses to things that I'd experienced in childhood,
and what were actually the things that I wanted and like the kind of life that I wanted, and I guess this week is Emily Mcdowell spinning my radar for a number of years about five years,
If you'd asked Emily what she was up to, she would tell you that she was an executive, creative director in the advertising world fast forward,
She is now the head of Limit Mcdowell studios. They have a line of cards, merchandise, all sorts of stuff.
Awesome. A reverend funny illustrate egg blending all the things you wish you could say, but never could find a card
I say it and all the thoughts that are in your minds. For those weird difficult scenarios in relationships and they're, putting it out
to the world and what she's created has absolutely taken off now available and I think, closing in on two thousand retail locations and she set up a fact
city point of inflection? This has all happened literally in the last three to four years: she's gone from creating a single card that took the,
The online world by storm has exploded into a really fast growing company and she
at a point where she's trying to figure out where to go next and what to do we
sit down and spend a whole bunch of time talking about her journey. Emily is also somebody who, at the age of twenty four, was diagnosed with cancer, and
made a very deliberate decision after going through treatment that she didn't want it to define herself. Yet much later, she's
called back and created an entire line of cards called her empathy series that does not
on her brand, but brings her you
lens her irreverent, wit and sense of humour to help
people understand how to navigate the conversations around illness and just around scenarios that are really complex, really
side to share Emily her story and what she's bill
in and her amazing creative energy with you, I'm Jonathan fields. This is good luck,
project hi, I'm a developer and I am from ITA operations all tools and processes used to keep us silos. Then we switched to Jiro Service management from it Lasagne now we can respond to requests faster, manage change and have better visibility into our work. Thanks to generous service management, we now have more free time, so we started a band, a heavy metal band with their service management power and service delivery. We have more time to rock amp up your service,
where we learn more at last. The dot com, slice, Jura Service management so were hanging. I here today and we were just both in Portland Oregon together Payment.
world domination summit, how'd you leaving being on, I actually
really liked it. I was really surprised I have done a bunch of speaking
that was the biggest audience that I had ever spoken to
and it was the biggest audience that I'd ever spoken to without notes or a podium to sort of clutch at behind you know, and so
nervous about it until
when on stage and then I wasn't- and it was fine- and it was a just felt like me talking about my life- which I know-
so I was like. Are you know? I don't really I'm not like super worried about memorizing a thing. I know. It's also that I mean that audience as such. It's almost like they just they love you. They want you it's true to arrive. They were such a warm. They were super warm and amazing, and I felt like I could have just gotten up there and done like an interpretive dance for forty minutes. Almost they would have been like awesome like where you experiment. You know which I'm glad that that didn't come
fruition because then there would be evidence internet of the is, and I
SR famed resume for a dance neuroses have yeah craggy operated that cause. I'm already checking off the things around like. That's me too. That's me do well. It came out of this thing that my friend and I were talking about this and I was working on a guided journal project that ended up going
shall than it might come back some day. But it was this thinking about the idea that as adults
we have. There are so many bill, believes that we have about ourselves that started to be formed very early and that started to be formed in ways that, like logically, make no sentence like
I have a my stepson is eleven and he just finished sixth grade or his peas in it. Excuse me he just finished fifth grade and
fifth grade for me was like my worst year like I, I actually really liked middle school in fifth grade was like the year when everything kind of fell apart for me, like socializing at school, you front loaded it I did. I really did I got it over early, so it was kind of in a good way. It was kind of good in some ways, but there was
I remember like the fifth grade boys
being like. You know you're just really weird
in salt, like your hands, are really puffy like our you're. Just these things that make- and I think about it,
we are all things that I like internalized about myself and my like my puffy hands. You know and like to this day
like. Oh I have to I can't wear like this
rang my hand, is puffy and it's like hey
because I looked at all over and over doesn't even know what's coming out of his mouth like you, that, as he just doesn't even like you know, he's
what others are useless to be an urgent rigour that you're, just like you say nothing, makes any sense, and so thinking about like a belief about yourself as an adult,
person with agency that came from
That came out of the mouth of a kid who is eleven. Who has no memory of having said that and no, I
yeah that that could have a repercussion on some.
It's thirty years to write and it's just no angers with it just lingers with you, and so the dance thing was
You know started really early and like, and I started talking with my friend about how I am just it.
Terrible dancer and I've had this like sort of danced phobia, and so I made this neurosis Reza. May that basically traced it back to it
and a sense of like all of the times I felt inadequate in ass, unlike put it together and sort of resume format, to look at it and is really fun to write it, and it was also just a really interesting exercise to look at, like
how neuroses get formed and why and kind of breakdown.
like the logical fallacy of it, you know yeah
It was funny because I was reading an end for you guys have to go I'll I'll I'll, make sure to drop a lincoln to the chauvinist, but it's really funny. It's like a resume, which just is like every moment where you had like an opportunity to dance
ITALY. From from to school, dances and just Halleck happen roses manifested in it.
That is what it is
it's so interesting too, because how I mean so much stuff
happens to us or like in that window of years between, I guess for you started. Fifth grains are like middle school high school.
you can be like forties fifties and like it takes in the
we given that it all comes behind. Like wait a minute. I haven't, I greatly at some point daunting
just grow out of this little behind it usually not bright, does at least whatever be free from the spectre of like up something so that ten year olds are to be raised at its like it's insane, how stuffing just snappy back down like it so quickly. Here we see it
It's kind of funny too, because we see it in a sort of like a macrocosm.
Sweden. We do some larger, that's to where people are living.
together. I mean literally like new and communal living, our the better part of four days, and that it's me
amazing experience and at the same time you know for some
little bring up stuff right.
the share of being around, and so we have to create this expectation really fast that you know like it. It's cool like this is camp with
all the adolescent angst anxious. Nobody cares anymore, and people realize that within the first twenty four hours, but until they do
in those first few hours, some people, it's like you have to get used to that. This is going to be okay triggers all your stuff gets easier. How so we see it, it just stays with us yeah he kind of like how much
there is no right, and I really I might have had a lot of therapy like, I felt a hop about that's a lot like. Can the death?
let go away, you know and it actually better than it used to be, because I did
like a bunch of work around it and like even just breaking it down into the like logical into
like doing the resume made me feel better about it, made me feel like just look at like what is this. Like.
That none of this means anything read like and who cares but yeah I mean it's: it's
at a certain point, you're like. Why am I paying someone?
talk about us. Can we just
I believe there is like all color therapy, and now I'm just going to go challenge myself to dance publicly for like every week. Well, this was like the other person who was speaking at the yes rate ratio or Michelle I'm buying a polar polar ear about how she challenges Affleck every day round
days? Just do tell me that scared crap out of her ram
It's amazing? What that, like just doing it like the exposure there be, does deal
I totally yeah
so you grew up in western mass just outside Boston, so just
Boston and get the kids ready.
Type of how I was a weird kid, and I was really I was a really like precocious kid, and I also had like really low self esteem, so it was kind of a weird combination. You know what I mean like I was kind of like like I was just insecure
it about being a person in the world until I kind of needed till it proved everyone how smart. I was all the time, which is probably why every
one in fifth grade. One day was like we like you man to go it alone. That wasn't, but I think that ip
sort, divorced and, and my
we live with my mom and it was not a super easy childhood for many
and so I was kind of always looking outside of home- to get validation and find sort of adults to be close to
I remember very distinctly the moment that
realized that I was funny and that I could be funny and like that funny was a social currency sewing. I remember it super clearly. I was it
the very beginning of seventh grade, and it was spanish class and the teacher said something and I, instead of like just responding in my head, like I always had before in terms of,
making some smart ass comment. I said it out loud and the whole class
was like. Oh, and I was like, oh my god like I have like I could do this like I can be, and because I never felt I never liked the way I looked like. I never felt
I was like pretty and ever felt like I, you know I like. I was always insecure about like certain things and then I was like, and then it was like. Oh my god like this is, I can be this like I can be. I can see
say the things that I think in my head out loud and people will respond to them and like them, and this is a way that I can be in the world that makes sense to me so did
It opened the floodgates it really did like it really did, and then I and then you know I really. I ended up really liking middle school and high school like I was really social and like had just kind of a nice life, and so it was a book.
We're just like the opposite of how like most people's experiences go. You know, but I really really close friends and I still have led to this day
Forty and I haven't lived in Massachusetts for since
Eighteen and all of them went to college in New England.
Like Robin marriage, each other. You know and like I laughed when I was eight
and what a Minnesota First WAR there and I haven't lived there sense, but I still have friends from from high school, where only the friends that you're still friends with
that classroom with you in seventh grade.
actually did like the do
them remember that moment. No and we know it a lot of money because I just realized last year that this would like. I just put it together last year,
that there was a moment of Genesis for s like I'd. Always out of you know,
thought about, oh yeah, like seventh grade, was when I started to like be just more outgoing with with other
and just be more. You know be more of who I was
instead of kind of being
it's all the time about pleasing everybody and trying to you know like just being more just out out there. It's amazing really because they're they're, probably and probably everybody has like
those few moments in their lives were
can change the m. Maybe they're not be at some point.
We fled Tibet like oh? That was the moment, but it was very.
likely this innocuous thing where it wasn't a big,
It was just something internally shifted aware where you that becomes a real,
pivotal moment for you, but but I'm always curious, whether
people around right are aware- probably not onto that moment. No, I mean, probably not because it was just it wasn't like I stood up and did some big Jerry Mcguire thing. I think it was just like yeah. It's just. I just made some dumb joke, you know, but then in my head it would turn into this whole. Like oh wait. This is an and but everyone of course, especially at that age, is just thinking about themselves. It's like you know
dance like no one is watching, has no one is watching as everyone's worry about themselves. Radio, and that's so it's like, I don't think, anyone's thinking about like. What's that kid what's
on in the end, the psyche of that kid of learning to find out about your liking feel like going. I know, you're done legacy. Remember shoes we're out, like I don't know, but yeah it is
It is so interesting to think about that stuff. I think yeah, it's pretty amazing that you kept those that type group of for so
long. I wasn't a youth group actually an enemy high school that was that started a church like
Unitarian church. It wasn't religiously, based that. I really credit that, for I guess I feel like I had deeper friendships
high school, that a lot of people that I know did the who came from different places, and it was I free a really credit.
The people who the leaders of this, if you promised Ellen, touch wealth and who are now like eighty asylum afore,
creating an environment where they sort of support.
In talking about really important things like trust and different elements of friendship at
like how to show up for other people and how to be a friend and how to do and how to engage with other people in a in a deeper way than just like some typical high school stuff- and
We did retreats like three times a year that were just kind of a weak and things and- and it was like once a week and every week had like it,
the where we all like talked about stuff, and it was. It was really cool
it. Really. It turn
violet my senior in high school. It was really popular there, like fifty kids, going to it and my
at two hundred in my graduating class, so it was like quarter.
Ray, and you know, and it was all high school it was all grades- was nine through twelve, so it was like you know, but it was probably more juniors and seniors than younger kids, but
wasn't clicky like it was so interesting that you could go to this.
And you could have like a kid who was a jock kid in a kid who was like a nerdy kid or whatever, and they would end up becoming friends and
all of the sort of high school, like bullshit, just kind of didn't apply
and even then we knew that that was rare like even then we knew that that was like weird and kind of special. But I,
we, and then I went to and to college and realized, like almost people didn't, have an experience like this, and I really credit that, with like sort of teaching me how to be a person yeah. It's amazing
I often wonder why there is no part of curriculum, which is
with life skills. I wonder that all the big questions delay skills for of like how do you interact with people? What really matters you know how
You define success in a way that actually resonates with you. Always, I think, a lot of
traditionally it. Yet
you know, societies definition. This is what's appropriate, just accept that and then outside of that the conversation always happened around some sort of like faith based organization right, but now
yeah like so many people are peeling away. I mean like the fastest growing group of people in the country now or what they call the nuns concerned like Non affiliated yeah. So you wonder at such a
wouldn't set of conversations, the Elles, that's kind of Anna Sheng yeah
wonder what this early. Like the longterm pain around that's is going to. I agree, I read you and I've never been religious in terms of organized religion, person and I
and a super liberal household
the northeast and so face. Like organized faith has never been a big part of my life.
And I read an article recently that was about that. That was that really
change. The way that I thought about religion saying that
religion serve as a framework for basically teaching us how it teaching us like ethics and teaching us how to figure out who we were and asking
cells in each other. Those questions and kind of going deeper and it sort of four
everyone to do that and the be, and it also created community
and whether or not you believe in the thing that
everyone together in that community or not that wasn't even that, wasn't really the point of it. I mean the point of it was to just be, and it be in community and that vanishing,
is really scary. You know,
create a sense of like it. Like you said
if those and also a sense of belonging yeah. That is, we have to have me. We can flourish without that and it
really, it's that all all the main sources that are provided over generations are are either
providing any more people are running from it, and I wonder, like we have
How that need failed like where are we gonna find it cause we're not
and I find it on the same level of mine that we can find it, but just being like face to face with a small local community people. Yeah
yeah. So it's really I'm fascinated by that phenomenon and how we're going to sell for that need. The ad is yeah, so at some
When did your interest in sort expression,
art, start to a really really young, my mom's an artist, and so we were very like they're alive
I think that we were not allowed to have as kids, because they like weren't creative, like we could have coloring books like of things that other kids had like you know, any kind of a kit like
anything that anything that, like sort of solved any kind of creative problem like even partially my morality, no less you get a lump of clay. You know like. Are you going to pick? We have a kiln, here's, a lump of clay. Like will you know, and so I started,
I mean I've, always loved making art, but the funny thing was that I never thought that I would be an artist because my mom was an artist and she really
struggled like she
really my parents, but up when I was six on, my younger sister was four and my mom had stayed home for a while likes took started seeing home before I was born
and she went to MIT when there were very few women at MIT. Like six, you know like it was very new and worked at an architecture of arm but didn't work there very long. Like did
wasn't senior in her career and then left in and to have kids and then so looking back trying to go back into the workforce, she was like. What can I do like? I can't pay anything. That's even going to cover the cost of my child care that that, and so I need to find something to do to work from home
and so she decided that she was going to make art quilts my mom's, a quilt maker and is now like sort of one of the best known
well the quilt makers in the world and has stuff
our museums and his Larry, like sort of credit as the leader of the sort of are one of the leaders of this art quilt movement from the eighties and like is
we don't became very well known in that world, but when she's
or did she was like. I'm just going to do this and it wasn't a thing like it wasn't like
I'm me to go. Join this movement, that's happening. It was like I'm going start making quilts and people would be like
we bad and she'd, be like no quilts for the wall, and that was like what
it also didn't really know how to make a quilt like she wasn't. She wasn't. It was kind of like she was again she taught herself how to do it and then she ended up teaching her.
Like pioneering all that she wrote up an written ten books about pioneering piecing methods and all kinds of stuff cause she used math from her MIT backer.
And to be able to figure out how to do some really complicated things. But as a kid I was like what
can you just get a job like? Can you just you know like this? I don't
This is really, and we grew up in this really wealthy town. So it was. It was very
We had no money, I mean we lived on. Basically, the child support that my dad was giving us you know, and while she was establishing herself as an artist- and
an adult now. It all makes sense to me like I get why she did it. I get why she felt cornered into you know, feeling like she couldn't go back to work having to work for herself feeling ass. She can work for some.
Sounds like all these things I understand now, but as a kid it was like. This is hard. You know
You just looking for security and she was unhappy and we were really broke, and so in my head I sort of was like well
don't be an artist, because that is that represents like struggle like that represents a life.
I don't want to have a kind of life and she ended up ultimately being successful like, but it took ten years so I was like now: I'm not gonna, do
I know and plus my sister what my sister is a super talented artist. She was she's an illustrator or she's not anymore. Now she is a jewelry buyer, but she went to art school and, like she did that whole, like I'm, gonna, go to art school and do that path, and so
and I was always really academic. So I was like I'm going to go. Do something else, and I ain't in fact, when I was a kid, was very much like I'm going to be a lawyer or something
I wanted to like climb a career ladder and I wanted something that represented like security and like professionalism to me. You know, like I wanted like this idea of like going to work in a suit. I was like very attracted to that because it felt like
validation, nor like real or likes secure or something you know, and so the thought of being an art
it wasn't interesting to me, and I majored
English with a focus in creative writing in college,
and minored in art.
without even really intending to? I just liked taking art classes, and so I did and then it just became my minor, but it was pre computers, so it was like
or art. You know it was unlike printmaking and stuff like it. Wasn't like learning skills that would translate into going and getting it designed
if anything, so even then the back of your mind, this was just something that you are enjoying. It was wasn't like. Oh, no, I'm setting up my family, not there was zero and I feel, like my undergrad, I mean I loved
went to school. I went a school called in Minnesota and Saint Paul and
I loved, where I went to school and they
I have a really well known, like international studies, program and an economics program, and, and there were a lot of people there, setting up their future and I was really like I'm making-
action movie with my friend. You know I mean I was like,
wait for this until I'm forty, which I did, I just paid my final student loans for undergrad, but I really got out of college and was like what did I just do like who or what do I? What? What? What is a job you know but IQ, so
so yeah it took me a while. I mean it really took me a while to figure out how I wanted to be in the world and like what of my wants, were responses to things that I'd experienced in childhood,
and what were actually the things that I wanted and like the kind of life that I wanted here, you know most people never
that entails yeah much later in life if ever
I think that our people that she'd never even explore that right. You know the kind of
like well, that's not what it's supposed to be about, which is so sad. Hi I'm a developer and I am from Ity operations, old tools and processes used to keep us sideload. Then we switch to Jiro Service management from it lasagne. Now we can respond to requests faster, managed change and have better visibility into our work. Yeah thanks to tourist service management, we now have more free time, so we started a band, a heavy metal band with Gera Service Management, power and service delivery. We have more time to rock amp up your service,
where we learn more at at last, see a dot com, slash, jury, service management. Good lead project is supported by indeed, the right now hiring is challenging it's time to find a hiring partner. That can help you rise to that challenge. That's indeed let them put in the hard work of hiring, so you can focus on the things you actually enjoy. Indeed, easy to use online platform makes it so
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Advertising right out loud college actual, so I greater
from college- and it was the dot com boom of the late nineties.
I moved to San Francisco with my boyfriend
but my sort of opting in african college waiver, and I got a job.
it was like when you could go to San Francisco and literally like you, could walk down the street and people
Do you want a job? Do you want wanna job? Can you
he's come work at my company. We can't fight like an, but you would
looking for a place to live like it, was that it was on Craigslist, there would be apartment was
whence and you'd go and there would be like an open house where the all of the forty
people that want to live. There would meet the person who is like the master tenant and then they would like interview everybody like decide where they wanted, and it was
It was. It was like a three percent vacancy rate. It was crazy, it's kind of like it is now, except it was a lot less expensive, yeah, so
We moved there and I've never been to California before and I went there walked out onto the street in San Francisco, and I was like this is where I'm supposed to live like it felt like my body was like: oh, like all the things that
It makes sense like that have always felt uncomfortable to you about where you've lived before, like all of those things it was, it was so weird I'd never had that kind of relationship with a place before and yeah. So I did we did, that
something and I got a job that was to this day, like the best job I've ever had. I worked at a magazine called the industry standard, which was a weekly
publication yeah. It was like an internet,
like one of the first was like it started at the same time as fast company and it didn't survive and fast company did and it didn't survive
they didn't have a viable business model like they gave up
their magazine for free will
intention that, like eventually they would get people to subscribe to it and they just had so
VC money that didn't matter and they had four different buildings in downtown San Francisco and it was like five hundred people worked there and I worked at in their compensated through these executive conferences that were like
for you know this one is for CM oaths, and this one is for seals in this one, and there are always at a rich Carlsson and they were like all over the world, and I became the
a person who is in charge of the look and feel of like each conference and the materials, and so it would be like this.
In aspen, so I'm thinking like wood and leather and there was like no budget for anything. And so I would
like I'd like to make the the conference binder that everyone gets out of
hammered, metal and they'd be like it was ridiculous, and then I got to go to each of these conferences and stay at the rats, and
a twenty three- and I was like Working- is awesome like this- is so awesome, and then I got cancer and I got
Hodgkin's lymphoma and I was diagnosed and I couldn't afford
in San Francisco like without a job, and I couldn't it was not the kind of treatment that they were like yeah. You can work through this like it was kind of like now. You kind of have to just do this for, like eight months like you, you probably
be able to like go to work everyday,
so I had amazing health insurance. That's one thing and I am so grateful for I had just like the absolute best Cadillac Health insurance plan I mean cause. I was in the hospital for about three and a half weeks before I was Agnes because it was really sort of complicated how it all came about
and by the time it was over. My medical bills have been like a million dollars and I paid like four thousand dollars. I mean it was like
It was amazing- and I ended up getting so end up going back to Boston actually for that year to get treatment at the data far because it was the best part in hospital, and it was
that works for me, and so my company, the industry standard like to their credit. They were amazing, they moved,
women and he worked there too, and they moved us
They gave me a credit card like an unlimited credit card for, like the last month that I was in San Francisco and was like just every me
like whatever, like just just hear my legs,
it's unheard of, and he wouldn't even know, one would do it now. You know- and I think it was
companies that, like learned their, let everybody can learn the lesson from this late nineties boom and
but it was like here will just fun
whatever you need like they moved us back. The ship
cars back. They bought us like first class tickets to go back to Boston like they were just incredibly good to me and
and then they went under like six months later-
probably because they were making like those kinds of financial decisions, but it didn't affect
insurance and you know- and so we just did this eight
in Boston and then, as soon as that was over, we're like gotta get out of here, like can't live here, and there are no jobs. You go back to inherent Cisco, so we ended up going to Minnesota, which is where we both on a college.
because it was like wow it's it's super cheap there. You know we have a lot of friends there like we know it. You know we feel like there's a community there for us and we can just go back
and very easy to live there. What was before, you made that move after after the eight months of treatment. What was what was the prognosis? At that time I mean Howard, a prognosis is good. I mean Hodgkin's is one of the. If you're going to go,
sarah- it's one of the better cancers to get you know, which is like you kind of hate hearing that when you have it cause you're like yeah, but still like this sucks and I might die, but it really is, like you know, as on the cancer spectrum like
fairly treatable, and so my body
spotted really well into the key motu and radiation, and so the prognosis was good. You know, and it was just like okay. Well, you know: here's the protocols, you go, get a cats gallery three months for five years and then they turn into six months. And then, after ten years you don't get a man. You just do the other thing and and
well that was kind of they sort of sent me on my way after that, which is odd. You know just go from going to a place every day to have them be like,
like see. I, like you, know, good luck. How did you make this
emotional mental psychological adjustment from that touch. Us okay, that's her.
I basically just was like I'm going to pretend this didn't happen. I mean there were so many lessons that I didn't want that. I felt at the time that I I I I felt like I would be better.
If I'd never learned that, like I remember feeling very clearly about like you know, I feel like I'd, be better off. If I never learned some of these things that I learned while I was sick about, like the nature of how a lot of humans,
fanta something scary and how just there were just
things that I was like. I just really wish. I hadn't had that experience genzaburo I can't will show
one in what one yeah. Well so I mean the honestly the biggest one, the biggest one was that I had. I had put so much talk in my friendships, him in my friendships, we're like really everything to me
because they sort of replaced family in certain ways and- and I felt like they had really deep friendships and when
SEC set of my friends just bailed because they were so scared,
and didn't know what to do. I have no idea how to like be with me as a second person and had never been through anything like that before, with a with a peer at all, and so just had no idea like how to even be- and it wasn't everyone, but it was like a couple of like very close people to me, like someone who had been like my closest friend since, like the end of elementary school, and I had like lived with his family for certain periods of high school, and it was just he just couldn't. Do it and-
At the time, I interpret it all that as me, just not being lovable and offer me not something about me, just like not being good enough that I've been if I'd been better in some way, that people would have done it, and it done that and then, of course,
realizing later like. No, that's that has
do with you and it's just. This is how people respond to trauma, sometimes, if and when they don't have the tools to respond in a different way
amidst Russia is. This was urine your only twenty yards swinging adjusters money, for so it would lay so no one in their lives now or no one has any like coping skills like nobody. You now and
People don't even know how many adults you know yet at that point in their life a year just trying to figure out like how do I feed myself? Ass, just really tough
it was just that that was the hardest part and it was really interesting because those- and I felt like no one talks about this- like I felt like
You know you read sort of cancer books and that there wasn't like there wasn't. The other thing was up there with
now. There are all kinds of really great organizations like stupid cancer, which I do a lot of work with.
is an organisation that is for a people under forty with cancer and countless right,
Yours and I do conferences and like they have this great community and the only thing that this was just just was two thousand, and so there was like
lighten message boards and like lists herbs and stuff for people, but there wasn't like there. Weren't, like you,
people communities or there was really no one that I could talk to about this stuff and be like. Is this happening to you too? You know there is kind of like nothing
and so all the things that you read about, like you know, losing your hair and people, unlike women being like. Oh, I feel so unattractive or, like I, you know like my identity is gone like all this stuff, like yeah, those things were true, but they
I felt like well, my hair will grow back and in a way,
it felt almost like a ghetto jail free card like I didn't, have to be concerned about how I looked because I kind of knew that I looked like shit and I was like. I have cancer like I'm not
I care about how I look like I don't
you know like I? I can kind of not where make up and like not because I just feel like this is not a time
I don't have like whatever I do. I'm going to still kind of look like shit, so I can just not think about that right now, and so it actually was
kind, freeing in that way like math, like I just I'm just gonna put that aside, but the relationship stuff
so hard, and I felt like no one talks about this or I had never heard about it as being like a huge component of what happens when you get
Aker. You know somebody you lose a spouse or some go through some kind of loss
mother, other people find scary and so
coming out of that. I just felt like I just want to like put this behind me. I want this to
want us to like color the rest of my relations. I don't want this to make to to inform negatively my relationships going forward like I don't want to be afraid to trust people. I don't want to be afraid to you know, be my whole self with people and so like I'm, going to just like put this
they kind of in a box, and I was also super paranoid about. I didn't everyone
divide debt. If I like a cancer survivor publicly, because I felt like I was
paranoid about that becoming
My daddy liquor- and I just really was like now- I just don't- I just feel like this- is a thing that happened.
I don't want to and I'll talk about it. If people want to talk about it like I don't want to, I'm not going to ever pretend it didn't happen, but I also don't want to lead with it ever and
for whatever reason I was just really paranoid about that, and so.
The irony of. Like you know, then, however many
years later, fifteen years
later when I, when the empathy cards thing came out, it was three hundred major new
organizations all over the world being like cancer survivors, Emily rigged out- and I was like- oh god like- it- was really very thing that yeah it was so interesting, and I was just like a pay like. I guess here it as you know like. I guess I guess we're doing this now, but then it was fun.
I mean then it was like it felt fine, but a lot of time to process that as you are, I want to come back to that
but let's certainly fill in the rest of the story. Before we get there so from there, then you know turn the page and say: okay, let me just
lean into something new leaders is something new and so
I went to Minnesota, did various things,
a couple years in fact started like us.
but not a lot of people. Now I am,
really had no idea what I wanted to do and I might
sure just graduated from college and I went to Baltimore and we want to be.
Store anyway. The upshot being that I made a necklace out of beads at the speed store with my sister
and back in Minnesota, I'm wearing the necklace and I'm shopping for a wedding gift at a store and the woman who works
says: hey love, your necklace where'd, you get it and I said oh thank you. I made it and
we're designer, and I said yes and I was unemployed,
like. I was tamping at my old school like calling alone or in asking for money and so
he was like well, you know we have five stores and
and our buyer would really like to take a look at your staff. It looks like it would really fit in our stores of here's the virus card. If you you know what I want to get in touch with her like hears or information. So I was like who, like
making. This is really fun and
and I bet I could make like a ton of necklaces like I can totally do this and there is no ads
This was this was like pre any of that stuff, and so I I went to the I went to a bead store in Minneapolis and I just bought a bunch of stuff, and I made a bunch of stuff- and I called the buyer, and I made an appointment- and I
going to try to like bluff my way through it like I was like alright, I'm going to like just put just
up on my all this terminology and learn how much to mark everything up and all that stuff. So I like went and did a hold on to it.
search like alright, I'm going to I'm going just like pretend that this is what I do.
And so I went in there and that plan fell apart in like ten minutes, because she started asking me questions that I liked didn't even know what the question was like, let alone the answer you know, and so I sort of came clean and was like I've actually never done this before, but you know I made all the
stuff and they were so kind and they were like. We don't care like
that is also why we want to sell it in her. So we don't really care if you ve ever done it before. So I
then started selling jewelry in these five stores, and then they,
Meta one of their cells wraps, and so I thought I had a wrap in that little area, just an upper midwest, and so
the first year that I was doing jewelry. I started just
that fulltime and I made like forty thousand dollars, and I was like
like all, I do is sit on the couch and want to each beyond my underwear, unlike bead things right and which it money may only like money in an right, because I was at twenty five and forty thousand dollars in Minnesota was like you know this is, but it started to get bigger. Like iced its
it's. The demand started to eclipse what I could just do, and so I was like just sitting and beating and beating and beating all the time, and so I knew nothing about business and I was like hey like I guess what
to do with startling. Hiring people are like out sourcing, that's really figuring out how to do this, and that of the whole thing sounded so daunting,
and so scary that I was just
I don't know- I don't know I don't know,
you know that this is a challenge in my brain enough to like I'm kind of board like I'm, you know like I'm just making. I'm just doing repetitive task
this isn't quite what I want to do, and I
looked into it studied to be an advertising. I need to go to portfolio school like you, can't just get a job.
The junior at an agency with a degree of you have to like,
special school, unlike get it, but what a port Foley
together and then and then submit
Tunisians Agency and its super competitive to get your first job and I'd action
looked into that school because there were a couple in Minnesota, but it was like
Thirty grand for two years- and I was like I don't know- I'm not going to do it- take on any more debt and then
but the big schools in Minnesota did scholarship contest and
It was not a normal thing for them. They just did it like this one year and it was like you, the winner gets a full ride.
And it was an assignment. If you
to be a writer. The assignment was to write radio spot, which is super hard. It's the hardest thing ready radios really hard, and if you want to be an art director, the assignment was make some,
marker comps of print ads for Minnesota winter Tourism- and I was like that- sounds easy like that,
it's way easier because I was like I dunno whether to be an art, director or writer, because I sort of had both in my background and I liked both and I was like I'm going to be an art director cause that assignments,
way easier- and I feel like- I would do way better at that
I'm so I'd said- and I remember saying my boyfriend like well. If I get this money, which it is a super long shot, I'm going to go to a school and go into advertising. If I do not get it, I'm going to figure out how to build this set a turning this into a company.
And I never thought that I would get the money and then I did and so
make a choice either make a choice. Then I was like alright, like I guess this is what I'm supposed to be doing. You know, and- and I get to go to the school for free and I get this opportunity, so I'm going to do this, and so I finished
In a year and a half cause, I was a little bit older. I was like twenty six at the time and most of the other people were coming straight out of undergrad, so I'd had a little more experience with computer programs and stuff. At that point, when you made the decision, because at the time you're making like decent money, doing jewelry
Was there a moment where you hesitated to shut that down, not really big difference between them
I'm starting a company
my thirties was. I didn't trust my own judgment
and trust that I knew what I was doing. I didn't trust that, like they were just it was.
you scary, the time I was too young. I knew too little about business and I still was clinging to that sort of vestiges like advertising felt really attractive to me because it was like
here's a ladder you can climb like here. This is like a track for a career that someone else designed. That is like a predestined to say, as the whole thing from which I hold things right layers of executing, and I felt like this jeweller thing is cool, but I didn't feel secure
I didn't you know and I and I could get much better health insurance if I was working in a company which was another sort factor for me, and I was like
it was kind of a no brainer like I got the money and I was like alright, like peace out, jewelry like that was cool, but this is going to be like my room
what career like I'm going to start this adult job now, and so when I was twenty seven, I started my first. I got my first agency job and then I went and that took me back to San Francisco. That was how I ended up. Getting back to San Francisco was getting recruited and hired by a
agencies are there, so you, and that was an art direction and you and up staying there for close to it.
I in the in the industry yeah and then I moved to in two thousand and six and I've been in L a sense
and I worked at various agencies in LOS Angeles but yeah. I was about four years and and really feeling like. I really
that I've been a writer like that was
Will you can either be wanting a matter that radio spot right yeah that our electorate and it was literally that was one? That was what made that
all for me. It was one thing that ended up setting a whole career in motion, and so you usually don't get to switch, and I had a very cool boss who I was working on E S, p n. At the time, which was almost all like low budget comedy tv, so for an art director
not that much to do if you don't write also- and so I was- writing serve as many scripts as my copywriter or partner like he- and I were writing them altogether, and it was clear
I was like just really enjoying writing and like good at it, and my boss said
You know we need another writer in the department and we
thinking about hiring one, but I wanted to ask you first, if you'd rather switch and then we'll hire an art director instead to fill your old job, and so I ended up doing that and then ended up being a writer for the rest of the time and sort of coming up to creative director through being a writer I
that's how much better it was just so much less tedious like a lot of our alot of being an hour director and advertising is working with the com for twelve
hours to make it look exactly right, and it was a lot of like banner ads at the time cause it was like early. You know two thousand and five like make this banner.
like twelve steps so that a client understands that a guy walks across the screen and then like put the thing down, and it was just it felt it was a lot of late nights for like not a lot of return. You know like it was
love, sort of tedium and writing felt better to me in
you're unlike more time efficient rights,
at the time. You work your way up, doing that, like what were you? What do you spend most of your days doing coming up with ideas for campaigns,
and working? You know everything from
in tv to doing three sixty which interactive is what they call I'm trying to think of like a bit like a better.
term, for it now cause it's like I've been out of the industry for so long that it now. I think it's just adds like everything is just like an app can be an ad.
Some kind of get on my game. Interactive thing can be an ad and that's that was just kind of like
It was a thing, but agencies still had like an interactive department versus a traditional department, and
They don't need more like now. It's all integrated and it's all like three sixty and just an ad as an ad, and you get very few assignments. I think now that are like ready tv,
because usually they start with the idea and then develop the media from there and-
The old model was to buy the media first and then be like have an idea that rates with its media, and I think that they're doing it differently now
What's going on with you personally, in your mind as you like, building this career in advertising in your life, I was really not happy and trying very.
I convinced myself that I was liking it and then I was happy because I worked so much and
like this everywhere, but I had a sort of a series of jobs where it was. You know, working Christian,
and Easter and canceling vacations, and and not having weekends and all the stuff like pudding,
and I was putting in so much and I was really giving it kind of everything I had and really trying very very, very hard, and I wasn't bad at it like. I was fine,
but I was never like superstar material in that career, but I was good enough at it that I keep getting promotions. You know, but it always
felt like a huge struggle like it always felt very hard, and I kept thinking like
this giant element of my life should just feel like a struggle. All the time like, I feel like there's a way
a career that doesn't feel like this and I feel like there has to be. You know, but I had no
that was or what that would look like, and I put so much time in
It's really hard to look at it and be like. Maybe this isn't the career for me
because I also like, when you get to a certain point, you're making money in your like what
I do like now, I'm in my thirties, and I don't want to start
bottom again, another industry? I even know what that industry would be. This is what I know
to do and what
I'm so interesting to me after having left than out of the business now for like four years, is that
I had no idea that the knowledge that I had from being in that business was not knowledge that everyone had, because
surrounded, we all were surrounded by everyone who knew the same things we did and
So I didn't really understand how
valuable that knowledge would be,
translated into another industry and the
that I understand marketing and branding and how to build a brand and how to think about how people thank and all all these strategy
In all these things that I learned working in that industry, I came out of it and it was a while before
like oh everyone in advertising had those things, so it didn't feel special, but actually
this knowledge is super, valuable and, and it and it's super translates outside of this industry, and I think
You know there are a lot of people in that industry that are not happy there.
well who are- and I think it's the kind of thing where you either have to like love.
I love it and if you
love love, love it. It's like the perfect job for you like it's just amazing, and you have like just an amazing time. But if you don't love it that much because
take so much out of you, it's really hard to do it and a lot of people,
I know got to a point in their careers where they felt like. I wish I could leave, but I don't know what else I could do. The only thing I'm qualified for is this and it's like not even
being able to see like actually you have-
much knowledge that translates to so many other things
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so I was moment for you worry where the things flap than your like her
starting to your cards,
and realising that the place that I came from, which was I was very, I got really used to thinking about solving problems and let you know
a successful ad convinces you that the product that you're buying will solve your problems because that's what drives all of our little human minds all the time. It's like getting our problem solved and if you have a product that
surely solves the problem. It's way easier, sell it. Then, if you have to make up a robber
momentum is people that have it and then and and sell it back in, and so I started to think
at the and just having that awareness like having that kind of awareness and looking at an industry like greeting cards that had been the same for so many years and that.
There ended up being a lot of opportunity to serve shake things up and disrupt it and and do something different. But it was
well based on, like psychological awareness of how people think and like what people respond to, and I certainly would not have had that if I didn't have some
years of training working in advertising and thinking about that, and so it was like. Oh, I can actually apply this to create something that solves the problem. Instead of an add that solves the problem, seashore too,
when you create like that first, one in your mind, is this a test
Is this like a test on a potential path to get rid of what you're doing? Okay, so it was very deliberate from the beginning. It was deliberate from the beginning. I and I was freelancing still when I quit my job feeling like. I really don't want to go back to a full time job. I really
one of your sister transition out. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'm going to freelance for a while and see if I can figure it out and you do not work all the time for the first time in the however many years and just
If I can give myself some space to lay the figure it out and so that
I was doing you know. I had this Etsy shop that I started just kind of to mess around and sell
illustrations that people have started to ask for so you're still doing art in
ground during all like your creating their own stuff. I didn't have time to do it when I was working in advertising and it wasn't until I started freelancing that I started dry again and it was like and it was in an in an f
to decide and figure out what I actually wanted and because I read some article somewhere about like.
if you have no idea what you want to do with your life, like try going back to what you like tat. He was a kid, and so I started to think about like will. What did I do when I was by myself like what? What did I enjoy doing and the answers were writing store?
and drawing being creative, and we always had art supplies in the house, and we always had you know that environment where it was creativity, was super encouraged, and so I started drawing like I started drawing.
Comex on, I started doing hand lettering which wasn't really a thing. There are some people to marry him act of it. Might there are some who are doing it, but it wasn't like not look round like now and I'd always loved to do that.
Like that was what I did in meetings when I was four.
what I did in school,
I was born in the margins, and so I was started to really do those things and then Pinterest I was. I was sort of another task where Pinterest than was introduced like Pinterest,
started and in the very beginning, when there weren't a lot of
on Pinterest. You could pick something and then that thing would be up on the homepage long enough for people to like repentant and unrepentant, and
So Paris was just getting started right around the time that I started doing these illustrations
so I started, posting them on Pinterest to see what would happen and people started.
Henning them like all over the place, and it ended up like Tyra banks like tweeted, a picture of one of them that she not on Pinterest, and you know- and it was like, oh like
I didn't sign anything I didn't know. I was just so dumb. So there's like all this work floating around out there. Nobody knows the chill yeah and right so so, because I wasn't even thinking about it. That way. I was just thinking like I'm doing thing, I'm doing a task kind of like it and it was like
people really like this, and this was really fun for me to make and okay. So this is cool so
I I'm just gonna open a little Etsy store and I'm going to go by like a five hundred dollar printer and start printing. These prints were people and
that's what I was doing and- and I was doing that at night- doing it on the side you know doing it between.
in jobs, because I would be working for two weeks and then take a week off and then get another job and
started to do that and then started thinking. You know I miss writing like
cuz, I was mostly doing little comics and I was mostly due end end like sorry.
Some lettering but doing it with public domain quotes and things like that, like just a practice the lettering, and then I was like you know, I really would like to to do my own stuff, but I felt like I needed to have like a purpose behind it. It felt like I want
able to sort of think about this in an emotional way, and that was where cards came in was because I was like you know. This is a thing that I always have trouble finding things that
Reflect my reality and like my personality and my relationships and I feel like there's an opportunity to do something cool here
and when I started I mean I and- and I hesitated a bit because I was a cow: do you make money selling something that cost four dollars like? That was
really like your mind, is go right that exactly like I was like you know, I'm an annual picturing and I'm thinking about it and that in this very small way, like I'm thinking about it, like I print a print and I can sell it for twenty five, thirty bucks
and why would I ever want to sell something for four dollars?
I have to sell so many more of that thing, and I don't and, and so really the first card was only attacks.
and I had one hundred which was like the minimum printed on a local printer and I was like well maybe I'll, never sell one hundred cards, but maybe I will and
I really felt I remember saying this to friends at the time like if this gets in front of the right people like I know, people will buy this if they see it because
this is speaks to so many relationships that are now
being spoken to was, at the now famous Valentine's day, yeah it's a Valentine's day card for the person, you're kind of dating we're, not really which at the time there is nothing for that and I was like. I just feel. I felt super strongly that, like this will sell if it gets in front of the right people and what I thought would happen was
I put it in my other shop and like ten people would see it and they would just buy the crap out of it like ten people would be like. Oh, my god, this is the most
but think of ever seen, and they would buy it and be super happy. I didn't anticipate what ended up happening. What was it went viral on and still ended up watching my cut
But I did feel like very sure that it would connect with people. It was just the piece of I wasn't sure at the time how to
in front of them, because I didn't have a social media fall. I don't have anything else. We know me draw pictures in my bedroom yeah, but
again, I mean clearly, though, that must have signal to you site like wow. This is writing. I mean invalidated your hunch
at the state of the green tree. You know, and at the same time must have also validate to you like there is for what
the reason you have a lens on the work of the ability to express what people are field.
but aren't saying in a way that is just landing it's time to do more of this yeah and it was like- and this was so fun like this- didn't feel. Like a struggle. You know this didn't feel hard there. This felt like
this is fine, and I could do this all day every day, and so I was like wait a minute like I can do this
I feel like I at this point in my career- have a very good sense of like what is going to be good and what's not good, and I have no problem killing my own ideas, because I've done that now for a million years and the idea of being able to
make those kinds of decisions on my own with no clients, and you know and and suffer the consequences like if I put something out- and it fails it's on me, but I would say I was like
would so much rather be here.
And been doing that than be relying on some,
to make those decisions at the point you know, that's electric has its amid I mean signifies
not just the shift for you to like nudges airship, but it's really like
a moment where you're, looking back on all those assumptions from your childhood and like the grasping for security and letting somebody else be in control to contain it, to saying you, no one, actually, that's not necessary
The future. I want totally
so from there I mean this takes off. You start to build this really amazing
company and creating a teller staff, your hiring people,
you ve got him in Tory. You ve got a plea, and is you got a warehouse at some point and down credibly success
I'm doing a lot of stuff, you love and we are really
in conversation a couple of days ago, where
as the years he came to a time where you're like okay, I'm successful from the outside, looking in from the inside looking out but like when you can ahead
what is in the lines out her. Let me just take stock.
Of what we are now is. This, am I still happy Emma? Am I doing the job within the company I've now built that allows me to completely flourished, taught me
is a little bit in the decisions you made yeah. So, by the end of twenty fifteen, I had fifteen employees
and we had a warehouse in LAS Vegas where all of our stuff was being shipped and out of, and I had a whole staff there and I have
house that I bought in LOS Angeles that was serving as our office, and so we had like seven people in there working, and it was becoming clear that I needed to hire more people,
like a lot more people and that my role was. If the company is going to grow. I was going to have to hire creative Herman and become like a queen,
actor or I was going to have to hire a
c o, like some kind of some kind of business part
or like because really I was spending most of my time running the business and putting out fires and handling business problems, and even with my wonderful staff in place who who are awesome,
it wasn't enough like it was just. There was too much work and
So many things to think about for the number of people who are working on it, and one of the things that I learned about myself in this process was that I didn't love managing a lot of people like, even if I were
we liked them, which I did I liked all of them, and I still do and even if the people were great, I did not like managing a big team. I didn't really like having to be the boss. I mean
like being, I liked making the decisions, but I didn't like I don't like being the one who had to like
be like. Oh yeah. We have to have a staff meeting. Let me like make that happen, enforce it like. Just. I just got to a point where I didn't like what my dated
It was because my day to day was very much about running the business and then at night, when everyone laughed was when I would try to jam in all the creative, because I was still writing and illustrating everything. That was what I loved to do the most and I felt like the creative was suffering I felt like you know,
I don't have enough time to really do this and they're all
new products. I want to develop and all kinds of stuff that I want to do and all of that
so much effort trying to new product development takes a lot of time.
and a lot of resources, and it was clear that we are going to grow out of our warehouse really fast, and I was just like ugh. I don't know how to even project
What we're going to do. I don't know how to act like I don't know how to even make projections in my even my account was like. I don't know how to tell you how to make projections, because nothing that this company has done so far has like made any sense like nothing has followed any kind of law
called trajectory. So I don't really know even how I can like what you tell you at this point
your God and the creative was really suffering
I felt like this is not we're not going to have a company like if I can't make the work and make it good like there is no company. You know this is what
driving the whole thing, and the irony is that now I don't have the time to do it, and then I was like well, I could hire
if the person has ceo- and I was like- oh like it just sounded like so much work, it just sounded terrible and then I started to look at and our number
as our host. The wholesale side of our business was about
sixty percent of our revenue, but it required ten times as much infrastructure as the website as people who just buy things from our website and we made way more profit on.
Driving to my website, because it was just a much more streamlined thing and we sold everything at a retail price on the wholesale was just I mean it was just like the amount of work that went into supporting having eighteen hundred stores was just like astronomical, and so until I started think like.
I mean I was really looking at like. Should we just stop making every other product besides cards like because it's really hard to manufacture things like? Should we just
decide we're not going to do wholesale anymore. What would happen if we did that? What would happen if we, you know until I was going through like a million different scenarios in my head and and with art, with my pet sales in my head of operations, and we were just talking about like how would we do here and then
I actually had a really interesting opportunity, which is,
company in Seattle called Madison Park Group and they partner with. I think they have eight different brands, though they partner with right now, where
they ended up taking on.
Work differently with each partner depending on the partner needs, but what they did for me was. They ended up taking on the logistics and manufacturing for the wholesale side of my business, and so
We took all of our whole inventory, which was known taking up seventy five percent of the warehouse, because it's just
volume. Wise has shifted it to Seattle, which is where their warehouse is, and a couple of my employees went over and started working for them doing
axiom jobs, and so now we say
when the phone rings it goes to promise
or it goes to Seattle and all the customer service is handled from Seattle and all the shipping goes out of Seattle and I have a product development team there that I work with now.
And it's still me, there's, there's no creative there on doing any kind of creative control. It's just
maybe like how to make this. Can you guys help me figure out how to make them,
and they will. They have a lot more experience and work.
with different vendors than I do a lot more experience and working overseas than I do, and so it's much easier for them to find when you're in
I or India or wherever. That can make a thing that I want to have made and have it be an ethical factory and have it be like,
The way that I want to have it made
and then they sort of they front the money for the purchase order and- and I get a back end percentage from all the wholesale basically right, yeah so and
And the net result is that you get more space
go back to doing weighing or ice a you love to do and that year like, if it's not being done at the highest possible level, nothing else matters exactly exactly and its
scaling its. It allows me to scale the company in a way that I could have done before like we have all caught. We have five or six new categories of products coming out in the next four months. That
I never could have done of my own, which is amazing, cuz people when people talk about scaling.
staff you know, a lot of them means the the
and very often in businesses. You part of what
do as have the change roles in, and you get the step out of being the artist the technician already chief IP creator and be the c o and be like the head of operations and the absence of any
will do that and I build successful companies and an end up building accompanieth that the hate going to
I must commend, it even happens within advertising to like when
The only way to become a creative director is to be really good at being a writer or an art director and being a creative rector is a totally different job, but
so what ends up happening is a lot of people get promoted and like it turns
wow that they were way better at being a creative than they are as a creative director or it turns out that they don't actually like it and they really mess doing the work and that they don't actually like. You know, selling stuff and and flying around and talking to clients and like doing that and managing teams.
they actually would just rather be like sitting in a room writing scripts,
But it's you don't know until you get there and it's a totally different job, and I think- and that happens a lot like where it's like
do so well doing a thing. Then you get promoted or you build a that you build.
Something but then you are like wait a minute. My role here is totally different than than when I started the things that, like the really
differences at like, if you're doing this for their there's a prescribed path,
in another company or industry where right this is the next step might raise. No left or right is like this is the next step, whereas we
creating yourself, I love what near what a you have it like you recognised that you actually have the outbreak.
At a church model to do it differently and to actually reclaim the part of it that you liked and then literally create the job that you wanted, sort of like yeah, pull it back and and
the same time. Still worry companies still scale your business still, it just took her like looking at it differently.
Yeah and I had various options to do that. To like it was that we could have done acts, we could have done why we could have done the you know. It was just figuring out what the best move was, because it was really clear that what I was doing well,
over, welcoming me and not working in it so funny, because I said you earlier
I ran into one of my best friends from college downstairs in the coffee shop. When I was on my way up here and
I saw him in person was when I was here a year ago and he
like you just seem so much happier like you just seem like last time. I saw you receive one feel it for you are so stressed out and, like you were just it just was clear
It was clear to you too. He was like. We didn't really talk about it, but it was like clear to me that what you were doing wasn't like sustainable for you. You know- and it was clear to me then, but I didn't see the
out of it. I just saw like I gotta get through
And I dunno even what that looks like or what that means- and I had just signed a contract to write a book on top of everything else, and I was just like what did I do. What have I done like what who and what you know yeah, it's amazing. Sometimes we just need to like figure out a different path or-
like go. The the assumption that you that there is a prescribed, wait actually make this half over for sure. Yeah kind of coming full circle to a certainty
and also like know earlier in conversation, we're talking about how the fact that, when you're going through-
to treat me like you had this big awakening about how people just do
understand how to relate, but you didn't want that to define you and yours
it's a really interesting, deliberate choices, cause when you started the card company and we start to succeed, you could have immediately created,
a line of right hards that were all you like your empathy cards, but like with your particular form of let's make this real. You know
chose not to do it and to write much later in the process. Yeah I mean that was super deliberate and it was because I knew that the idea that I had to do a different kind
sympathy card. I knew that I could write them in a way that we're going to address some problems and resonate with people
and I knew that if I send it right that it could be a really big idea and
I also knew that it would be really different than anything that existed out there, but I, what I really didn't want was to be pigeonholed and to have my whole company turn into like cancer card company. I really felt like my brand was-
bigger than that, and I felt like there were a lot more different kinds of problems, and
is that I could do, and it also was like I don't want to be in that space. All the time, like it's kind of depressing to be in that space all the time to be honest, like I, I want to be able to sort of be there, but also be in a space where we're talking about like love and relationships,
are fun. Stuff are things that are other like less critical problems that need solving, but that are still interesting. You know, and I was worried that if I started off and my brand became known at the same time as those cards were becoming known, that those two things would become inseparable, that was just such a big thing that it would take,
eclipse everything else, and I also felt like this is a big idea, and I was watching the trajectory of my business and
every month it was just more and more and more people buying the stuff following me on social media episode, just growing up hot for him. So I was like you know. If I hold onto this for like a year,
will have the opportunity to really, I think, get this in front of a lot more people when we do watch it. In fact, what happened
and I really the reason
one reason that it was so six of them really hearts we're so successful immediately and just like caught fire was that Renee Brown had become a fact.
I my work before I launched empathy cards. She really
is what I was doing. She looked like she had bought some stuff I'd, send her some stuff like weed, and then we just sort of became friends over email. We have some friends in common, so when I, when I did empathy cards, I sent her
Tom before I released them. It wasn't with the intention of her
posting about them. It was just like. I think you will love these. This is what
now I'm super excited about it, I'm just giving you
a preview of it, because I think there are like super up your alley, and I know that you really like it and you like my work and she was like
my god. These are amazing. I want to write a whole blog post about them
like send it out to all everyone that is on my subscriber list and that
millions of people. You know- and I was just like- really blown up,
I buy that, and she did, I mean she the morning that we released them. She sent out this email to all of her subscribers. That was about them. That was just like look at these things. They just came out look at what they do. Here's the blog like read what what she said
like this is pretty awesome immediately. People started posting them on social media and then twenty four hours later was
when all of the you know slate and heroin,
and the lowest I start up and then twenty four hours after that started to be like and be seen.
In the news and good morning, America,
the tv people gap, but what's a cool, as I mean, because I guess, because of the time that you spent in the annex three, you understood that site
and even though you got this massive onslaught of these expanding ripples of larger and larger media, there were great for the company. Your plan work perfectly
Which was yours tablets enough already as something bigger than that right, that it didn't define the entire Brent right or which
divine the? And you know there are a lot of people that associate us with that
that's fine, like I don't mind that at all you know it's not mine, the association, I think- and I am actually very proud of the association, but we were its true. We had enough
their products cause. We had a lot of other. You know we had a hundred and fifty other products at that point, and so it was enough of a thing and and Renee you know, knew my work
totally outside of that context like she, you know, had bought our other cards, and so she wasn't thinking of us, as that
company now, so she didn't position.
in her email didn't say like there's this company, that is about that's all about cards for grief and cancer. It was so that plan did
Anna and the part of the plan. That was. Let me wait because if I had just done it, if I come out of the gate with this, I would have known her. I wouldn't have known
any. If the other people who posted about it, I mean it's amazing to see as when, when you look at what you've created answered the breath and like that
thousands of stores is distributed in and expanding
with lions and all this, I think the media assumption is wow, like she's, been in this for a couple of decades and yeah, it's
happened ass, Diana Shingly, I mean you can look back and say no, you actually been building to this. Your whole life, but I have an eye
building the skills required to do it marine life, but the actual infrastructure
the company has only. This has only existed for like three and a half years. It's crazy yeah yeah, I mean do you ever sort of just like stop for a moment and looking around and say wow
yeah? I do all the time- and you know it's. My life
especially even like a year and was so. It was one hundred and eighty degrees from what it had been a year before
and one of the things that this has.
Really taught me is- and maybe other people don't think this way. But I know that for me when I thought about things that could happen quickly. That would change your life. It was always in the context of bad things like
someone dies that close to you and your whole life changes or like the bottom falls out or your. You know your house burns down or like whatever, like some tragic thing, that ends up changing the trajectory of your life and I never really thought about it in the context of like
a good thing you know unless it's like winning the lottery or something but like I never really could have.
Imagine you have a year of your life, it's like putting a
hold on you and spinning you around and just sending you off in a whole different direction and I'd never really thought about that, or certainly hadn't experienced it and so to have that happen.
just it was insane. I mean it's, it is still insane and and to think about how different my life is now than it was five years ago is kind of astonishing. The witches actually feels like a good place to come full circle, so this is good life project. So if I offer that phrase Fraser you to live a good life, was it wasn't mean to you
It means to spend your time and integrity like spend your time
doing something that you enjoy and also feeling good about.
You're doing and what you can
into the world and feeling just feeling like you're living
without without any kind of regrets, feeling like you're living without you know that if you died tomorrow, you wouldn't look back and say like I wish I'd done this or that the other thing you know to just be it means being present in who you are and living. That way
Thank you. Thank you. So much for listening with love, sharing real unscripted conversations and ideas that matter- and
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this is Jonathan Fields, signing off for good life project.
Transcript generated on 2022-03-28.