My love of paper transcends into multiple categories – stationery, notebooks, planners. Chances are, if it’s made of paper, I’m going to love it. One day while browsing Instagram, I ran across Ashley Shelly’s feed and quickly fell in love with her line of paper goods including Budget Notebooks and Daily Peace Journals. I was really excited to realize that Ashley is based right here in Jacksonville!
Today Ashley is launching her Summer line of Budget Notebooks and Notebook Besties. In celebration of her new products, I asked her to share a little about her business and creative process.
Q: Share a little about yourself and your background. How did you start your design business?
A: Hi! I’m Ashley Shelly and I started my brand of notebooks in October of 2014 on my 28th birthday. I’m traditionally trained with a BFA in graphic design and digital media, but I have always wanted to work for myself and have my own business. I kept saying “one day”, but I recently made the leap and made it a reality! I had been working in the corporate world since I graduated from college and running a little Etsy shop of invitations starting in 2012. It wasn’t until I created The Budget Notebook that my side business really took off! I’m super excited for the summer 2015 line of Budget Notebooks and their perfect companion lined notebooks I call Notebook Besties.
Q: Being an entrepreneur means you’re always hustling and brainstorming ideas for your company. How do you balance work life with your social life?
A: Yes, being an entrepreneur is a crazy balancing act! I try to be really aware of my workload and use my planner to keep track of everything. I’m such a Type A personality, so scheduling and staying on somewhat of a routine is what works for me. Having a small business definitely requires flexibility in the beginning, so sometimes I do things at night or on the weekends, but I love what I do so that makes all the difference. If I hated it, it would drain me. But because this is my complete passion, it actually energizes me to work on my products! I also make sure to take breaks, eat lunch during the work day, and enjoy my weekends and evenings with family and friends.
Q: What does your design process look like?
A: Designing for my product line is actually SO much fun! I create new patterns and products every season, so there is a design process happening every 3 months. I love picking out the new colors and thinking up new patterns to use for the next season. I have always loved fashion and anything pretty, so designing my products is perfect for me. The process starts with getting inspired visually, usually making notes in my phone so I don’t forget the ideas, then sitting down to start creating the patterns in Illustrator. Once the design is done, I send all of the files off to my printer, wait impatiently for the proofs to arrive, make any changes needed, and then wait for the final products to be shipped!
Q: Where do you find inspiration for your products?
A: I love looking through Pinterest, magazines and Google images. My product lines stay very current with the trending patterns and colors, so paying close attention to the fashion and interior design world is also a huge part of my inspiration.
Q: What is your number one rule of thumb when it comes to budgeting?
A: Definitely write EVERYTHING down. If you spend a penny on something, it should be a part of your budget and should never be a surprise. The whole concept of The Budget Notebook is to give women a pretty place to do just this. Writing everything down and staying totally honest with yourself about your finances is the difference maker. It will change your life in the best way. No more stress over money!
Q: What advice would you give those who are looking to startup their own creative business?
A: I would say to find the thing that you would do for fun, whether you got paid for it or not, and find a way to do that and make money from it. When you truly love what you do, you will make it work when times get tough. Don’t start a creative business just to work from home or because someone else is doing it, do it because it’s what you would do in your spare time because it’s the first thing on your mind.
Q: What’s next for Ashley Shelly?
A: In the coming months, I will be starting The Budget Notebook Society with webinars I host, an exclusive Facebook group, and even more ways to help women rock their money in style.