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Season 1 Ep 38: Chat With a Card Maker: Jessica Whittle of Jess a Little Creative

Updated: Mar 28, 2021




This week on the xoxo, jess Podcast I'm talking to Jessica Whittle of Jess a Little Creative. Jess a Little Creative is a one-woman business based in the Cotswolds in the UK. Her business began from a combined love of patterns and sending greeting cards. She has a really unique style, and I'm so excited to bring you another chat with a card maker on this week's episode! Listen to the episode above, on iTunes HERE, or read the transcription below.


Check out Jess a Little Creative on Instagram and Etsy.


Episode Transcription:


Jessica Walker

Welcome back to xo xo just really dive deep into the world of greeting cards, the highs and lows of entrepreneurship and the mindset tools needed to start creating the business of your dreams today. I'm Jessica Walker, your host and greeting card guru here with another Wednesday episode. And this week I'm talking to Jessica widdle of just a little creative. Just a little creative is a one woman business based in the Cotswolds in the UK. And her business began from a combined love of patterns, and sending greeting cards. She has a really unique style, and I'm so excited to bring you another chat with a cardmaker episode. So without further ado, welcome, Jessica.


Jessica Whittle

Hi, Jess, really great to talk to you.


Jessica Walker

So great to have you. I'm really excited that we connected over Instagram, and that we can talk about your greeting card journey. I love your card style, it's so unique, I see it nowhere else. And I can't wait to ask about everything, your process all of it. So let's just dive straight in and start kind of with your background about how, like what got you into the greeting card world why greeting cards,


Jessica Whittle

it's kind of been a bit of a mixture of lots of things. So I'm a trained graphic designer. That's what I studied at university. So I've always had a big kind of Art and Design interest. And I think in my spare time, my kind of style is all about patterns and illustration. And I love sending cards. And I think there's something really special about putting onto paper and a message to someone, I think it's a lot more personal than just a text. So it's kind of just been a combination of all of that love of illustration. And yeah, so kind of come together. And that's where I am now with it.


Jessica Walker

I love it. So you're in school for graphic design. Did you always have, like a heart and mind for entrepreneurship? Or what? What kind of did you when you went into school for graphic design? Did you see yourself being an entrepreneur?


Jessica Whittle

Not at all, could not be further from it. And I think I always thought, you know, our work in agencies as a graphic designer. That is what I will do. And I think I've kind of just stumbled upon it. I saw you know, so many people have a little side hustle or have something that they do. And obviously with the pandemic, and everything has been so crazy this last year, I had a lot more time on my hands. So I had time to think about doing something like this. And but yeah, this was never part of the plan. It's just something I've kind of fall into. But I'm I'm loving it.


Jessica Walker

I'm the same way I call myself an accidental entrepreneur. Like Yeah, absolutely. So unintentional. But now that I'm in I'm like, how can I do anything else? This is so much fun.


Jessica Whittle

Yeah,


Jessica Walker

I love that. So I want to talk about your style. And I talk a lot about this on the podcast and on Instagram that finding a niche or finding just like an aesthetic, that's very yours is really important, especially when you're first starting to just like build that recognition. And you're specifically like when I see your card on a post, I know it's yours, because it's just like that very unique style. So how did that style develop? Like, was this always kind of your aesthetic? or How did you get there?


Jessica Whittle

Again, it was kind of a big sort of accident with it. I feel like one thing I've always struggled with is what's my style? Who am I as creative. And I kind of just one day realized this is my style, because every time I sit down to draw something, or I do something or I find a bit of work that I really like, is this kind of geometric pattern really intricate. And and just everything I was like, it's all the dots are kind of starting to get put together. And yeah, I kind of thought no, this is my thing. And when I started showing it to people, they loved it, the more you know, I'm still developing it. And constantly they even from when I started, like nine months ago to now they've changed a lot. So it's like a constantly evolving thing. But yeah, I'm really happy that I've kind of nailed what my style is now. And because like you said, I don't really see it anywhere else, which is really nice to know that when I put a card out there, people are instantly like, Oh, yeah, but that's definitely one of yours because it's got that particular look.


Jessica Walker

Absolutely. And what would you recommend to someone? I mean, you are a graphic designer, so you do have that art background, but just for someone who is starting in the greeting card world and wants to develop their own personal style, like how do you how do you feel like you could recommend they get there.


Jessica Whittle

I think it's just practice. It's just the amount you do stuff you kind of you start developing as you go. And I think it's also really important to look at work that you love. So whether that is greeting cards, or whether it's artists or illustrators or anything, because you will start to see a pattern in all these colors, I seem to always be drawn to these, or, oh, I always seem to be drawn to this kind of typography or so I think it's a combination of just practice, practice, practice, do it all the time, you'll figure out what it is that you keep being drawn to. And yeah, just just loads of research, I think as well.


Jessica Walker

That's such a good takeaway. I know it sounds cheesy to say, follow your heart, but it's truly like follow one's heart. Yeah, follow what sparks your creativity, follow the things that light you up. And that's, that's how you find it. And I think that's, that's such a great takeaway. So I would love to talk about your process of from idea to how you get the cards in someone's hands, I know that these like, in behind the scenes things can be such a mystery to people when they're like, how can I do this? How do I how do I put the pieces together? So your design process? Do you design on paper? Do you design digitally? How do you get your ideas it onto a card, just walk us through the process.


Jessica Whittle

So this is again, something that is evolving quite a lot. So when I first started, everything was done by hand. So I would always start with pen and paper, draw something, then scan it into my computer. And that would be when I would start kind of adding colors, doing any tweaks if something may be going a bit wrong on the drawing, and then sending that off, but actually more and more now. Because of I have a bigger range of cards, and there's more stuff than I do I do some digitally now as well. I tend to always, it's still always done by hand. So I will draw it on an iPad or whatever. So it's got that kind of hand drawn feel to it. But yeah, a lot more of it now comes to digitally as well. So yeah, it's a bit of a combination. But what I try to always keep in what I love about what I do is the hand drawn element is the fact that everything is a little bit not square, and it's a little bit off center. And there's no perfect circles, or you know, so I just tried to make sure that everything still has that feel to it. And then everything ends up in I use Adobe. So it all ends up in Illustrator, do all the tweaks I need and then I do a combination of semi print here. And some I send off to professional printers, then but yeah, generally always starts off with just me doing a bit of drawing.


Jessica Walker

Yeah, exactly. I that was my exact same process, I started hand drawing on paper and then scanning and then shifted to digital. And it seems to be kind of the the journey that a lot of people go through, especially when you're scaling because it's just quicker to do things. But that's what I also love about I don't know, the use of procreate, whatever your drawing app is that you use, it really does keep that like handmade, draw a hand drawn look which I which I absolutely love. Um, so as far as starting a shop, I know that like pulling the trigger, and getting an Etsy shop or starting your website, that can be a big hurdle that people have because there's just so many unknowns. A lot of people are scared of shipping. A lot of people are nervous about Will my card meet the customer's expectations? Like there's so many things that keep people from taking that plunge. And since you did start about nine months ago, relatively recently, during this pandemic year, what would you recommend to someone who's just like, can't quite commit can't quite take that job? What, through your experience, like what have you learned, is easy, not as easy, surprising, not as surprising and that journey?


Jessica Whittle

So I think it's I know, it's really hard to put yourself out there because I also had all those doubts about I don't know if anyone is going to buy anything. But I actually think the more I know, the harder it is because you're kind of like, oh, there's all this stuff to think about, I almost think you just need to go for it. Because it's kind of that naivety of I'm just I'm going to start a shop, why not? Let's just put it out there. Because now I find my to do list is pages and pages long because I could do this, I could do that. There are all these things. Whereas at the beginning, I just saw it as I set up an Etsy page or you know, so I think But really, the sooner you do it, actually, the better. Because you learn so much as you go. And I think you can make it, it can seem bigger than it is. And once you actually start doing it, you're like, Okay, cool. I've done it now. And I mean, so for me, personally has been brilliant, because it's so easy to use. And, you know, obviously I, you know, come from a more kind of technical background, because I'm, you know, working on a computer all the time. But if you don't have those computer skills, it is pretty straightforward. So, I yeah, I would just say, bite the bullet and go for it.


Jessica Walker

Yes, I completely agree that it really is inspired action that clears the path, like we can think about it all day long. And it's good to be prepared and plan. But there's something about like, learning through doing that just really speeds up the process and shrinks that timeline. I couldn't agree more with that. And take it from her. She's literally walking the walk you guys. So take that jump today. You heard it from Jessica. So I would love to talk a little bit about your tagline, which is cards with conscience, what that means to you and what you're trying to accomplish through that mission.


Jessica Whittle

Yeah, so I think with my cards, I I'm very aware of climate change, and the environment and everything that's going on. And it's a really, really important issue. And I wanted to make sure that, you know, my business as small as it is, follows everything I believe in. And so I wanted to make sure that all my products are as sustainable as possible and recyclable and no single use plastic and all this kind of thing. And actually, when I first started, I looked into it all and for several reasons. I couldn't straight away go with for the recycled cards and everything. But I have recently been able to, to upgrade that. And now I yeah, all my packaging is recyclable, biodegradable, everything's printed on recycled card. And yeah, I think I think it's really important to kind of practice what you preach. And if there's something that you believe in, it shouldn't just stop with your personal life, it should go into your brand. And and I think a lot of people really care about it as well now. And so I think yeah, it's it's super important to, to just, you know, keep keep going with it.


Jessica Walker

I think so too. And I think what you mentioned is such a good point that you can start small, you don't have to start with an entirely 100%, eco friendly, biodegradable, like it can grow. And it's just having that intention from the start. And I met and I had this same kind of issue because I thought, I will shift over to eco friendly products, once my business is big enough to afford it. Like I thought, I'm going to use plastic now because it's the cheapest option, etc. And I don't know if that was actually true. Like, I think I could have made some shifts earlier, if I done more research that were affordable, I am making those shifts now. But But like I said, like she said, it can be just something so small. And this absolutely is the trend that we are seeing that people want these eco friendly, they don't want to see single use plastic. And of course, they're there's no right or wrong for your business, whatever, you may have a different heart centered passion that maybe yours is giving back to an organization. So like, we can't all do all of the things. But if your thing is eco friendly, sustainable cardmaking there are definitely options. And I know, I'm sure Jess would answer questions on Instagram, if you had any about those kinds of things. But I think Yeah, I think that's a great point that you can start small with whatever your intention is, with your business.


Jessica Whittle

It was a lot kind of easier to switch over than I thought it would be. And I think you think it's going to be this huge thing and what the implications of this and but actually, it just you just need to do some research and look into it. And and yeah, it's it's really easy to do and not actually that much more expensive than the alternatives really, that you know, it is more a bit more expensive. But for me, I was like this absolutely is what I need to be doing.


Jessica Walker

Isn't that such a common theme with everything in entrepreneurship that we think LP is so much bigger, and so much harder than it is? I actually would love for you to touch on that. Like what have you found was like a bigger challenge in your business? Was it starting to keep track of your finances personally, was it shipping? Was it the production side? What was what was that thing that was kind of the sticking point for you that you've now kind of navigated?


Jessica Whittle

So definitely managing the finances and I think again, because when I started I don't think I really thought it was going to take off. So I thought no, this, you know, this is just something I'm doing, and I'm not really sure. So I didn't really keep an eye on what was being spent and what was coming in. And then I suddenly was like, I need to collate all this. Now I'm in the process of doing it, every time I buy something, it goes into a spreadsheet receipt goes into a folder, every time an order comes in, that gets invoiced. And you know, so it happens very organically now. But yeah, at the time, that I found really like, how do I do this? Where do I even begin? But again, once you start putting it into practice, it's not as difficult. I think the other thing that has probably been a bit of a challenge has been the printing and the production side of knowing how to produce things, and how many to order of something if I'm getting it professionally printed, because you don't know how popular something's going to be. So it's just kind of juggling all those things. But I think the best way again, ready is to just learn while you're doing it, I think you you're never going to have the perfect, like journey, there's there's going to be some things that haven't gone quite right that you learn from some things that you're happy have gone a bit wrong, because you're like, Oh, actually, I've discovered this other thing that's so much better now. And so again, I think, you know, is it's all just a huge learning curve. And it's all really useful stuff.


Jessica Walker

Such a good point that, absolutely the end. And like you mentioned earlier that I mean, there are 10,000 things we could be doing a day to move our business forward. But choosing what we want to start with Tuesday and what we think is going to be that needle mover. And just focusing on those things is one of the biggest challenges because it's exciting too, especially as you're starting a business, you're like, I want to pick and choose here, I want to try this social media page. I want to there's so many things. And And again, it's like I would say, follow your creativity, follow what lights you up and start there and it will grow. So yes, with finances, I think that that is such a common thought that I'm just doing this on this side. And it's you can get to a point where it starts growing a little bit more than you expect. And then you're like, wait, I have no idea where I am. Like, I have no idea if I'm making a profit. And it's and that's why I totally agree that it doesn't have to be big. It can just be simple spreadsheet that is money in money out. You can check it out once a week. It doesn't have to be complicated. But starting from the beginning.


Jessica Whittle

Yeah, that's Yeah, that's one thing. If I could like, say to anyone looking back, something I wish I'd done finances


Jessica Walker

and heard it here. First everyone, I preach this often. But yeah, she said it. If she could go back, it would be finances. I'm so glad you said that. Because I couldn't agree more. I had the exact same experience. I sat down with my sister about honestly a year into my business. It was a bit late. And she's a financial analyst. And she was like, chest he was it actually like I was in a good spot. But I just had no idea like I didn't I have no touch point or pulse on how my business was doing or the health of what was going on. So agreed, you can't dive too deep into the numbers. So now that you are nine months that you have your funding, what are some of your upcoming goals? What are you excited about moving forward with your business?


Jessica Whittle

Oh, I mean, there's so much I want to do and and I think when I started the the first kind of range of cards that I put out, there were some letter and number cards. So they were buried kind of generic could be for any occasion. Now I've kind of developed those on and I'm a few minutes in, I want to develop a lot more for kind of specific occasions. My Valentine's Day cards actually just arrived from the printers this morning. can see. And so yeah, it's definitely going to be all about expanding the range and focusing on Yeah, lots of different occasions. And just kind of continuing to develop it and see where it will go. I think I'm just open to all the opportunities and just kind of letting letting it happen. Yeah, so yeah, so much. It's


Jessica Walker

just having huge goals with a loose grip, I think is such a beautiful place and a sustainable place to start. Absolutely. Jessica this has been awesome. We've learned so much from you. Can you tell us where the listeners can connect with you find your cards and I'll link these Shout outs, but where do you recommend they go?


Jessica Whittle

Yeah, so I've got a Facebook and Instagram page. Both of those are just just a little creative. And then my cards can be bought from Etsy. And I also offer as well as all the cards that are on my Etsy page, I offer quite a bespoke personalized service where people can get cards done with names on specific dates. And that can all be done by just private messaging me on Facebook or Instagram. And yeah, I'm always kind of keeping my social really up to date with new designs and stuff. So yeah, follow me on that and and see what I'm up to


Jessica Walker

take a look gorgeous designs, a lot of momentum happening over it. Just a little creative. And I'm so grateful for this conversation today. I know that there are a lot of takeaways that people are going to love in this episode. So I appreciate you taking the time to talk.


Jessica Whittle

Thank you so much.


Jessica Walker

Thank you



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