Today we meet Brian Gilbreath & Lauren Harms, co-founders of environmentally-friendly boutique greeting card company Next Chapter Studio. The business is the result of the respective interests of Brian and Lauren, who spend their nights and weekends running a company that is very close to their hearts – Brian enjoys the challenges of growing a business, while Lauren has a love for arts and design. This passion for what they do has resonated with customers, with 2020 being an exceptional year for the business. How have they achieved this? And how do they manage to grow in a sustainable way? Let’s find out!
Lauren and Brian here – we’re co-founders of Next Chapter Studio. We design and create our cards in Brooklyn, NY, and print everything on our Riso EZ590U. We handle every part of our business including designing, printing, packing and shipping wholesale and retail across the country. Lauren started an Etsy store in 2015, selling other artwork. This is our first Shopify store and first time doing wholesale. It’s a nights and weekends gig right now.
Next Chapter Studio is a design and print shop running on Riso. We specialize in Risograph printing, creating greeting cards and art prints.
Our mission is to make bright and friendly greetings cards for everyone using the environmentally-friendly Risograph printing. The vegetable-based inks dry bright and colorful, allowing our fun designs to jump off the paper.
Our business has its roots in our passions. Brian had always wanted to start a business to work on and grow. Lauren had always taken an interest in printing and design and learned the ins and outs of Risograph printing over a few years at SVA. In late 2018, we combined our passions and set up Next Chapter Studio, creating our first greeting card shortly thereafter. Launching our business online was an obvious first choice and has given us a lot of flexibility as we’ve grown.
Next Chapter Studio is growing at a quick pace over the course of 2020, with online B2B and B2C sales more than tripling vs. last year. 2020 has been exceptional for us in the wholesale market, from direct orders from large retailers, to small and boutique stores on wholesale platforms like Faire and Bulletin. As we’ve grown we’ve had to focus on managing a wide variety of sales channels. They each have their pros and cons, so it’s nice to have our Shopify site as a central hub.
Currently we are working on growing our studio space to handle the increase load of orders. Future plans are to get a brick and mortar store with a storefront/studio, where we can not only print our cards, but sell them, host events, and teach classes. And of course, designing new cards and prints!
The biggest challenge right now is getting the attention of wholesale buyers. Our cards look quite different than what is currently out there, with the bold colors and simple designs.
Don’t be disheartened comparing your business with others on social media that have been at it for a lot longer than you. Someday you’ll get there through hard work and determination. We’ve found that setting aside specific times for business work helps you focus and keep on track.
We love Proof to Product’s Paper Camp, it’s a great class and podcast for those interested in starting a product-based business. There are so many podcasts out there for entrepreneurs, it can be overwhelming. Listen here and there and even if a business’s whole story doesn’t apply to you, you might find a tidbit that helps you grow.
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