Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
My card company started in 2008 as a hobby. And eventually my friends kept asking me to make them cards. So I figured well, I might as well turn this into a business and see where it goes, start charging people. So I always had it on the side. I took full-time jobs and on my mat. leave in 2012, I decided that I didn’t want to go back to work. I didn’t want to leave my baby. I wanted to give this a full time shot and 2017 here I am. I own a shop now!
Talk to us a bit about Queen’s Cards
My cards are filled with taglines, and those tagline are usually pun filled. I always thought that it was cute to have phrases that relate back to the cartoon. And if the cartoon was really cute and it had a funny saying especially with a pun, then it would be appealing to customers. And I hadn’t really seen these cards when I was starting out. So I thought it would be really cute, and that’s kind of my thing. It’s cute and cartoon-y puns
Do you get inspiration from anyone for these puns?
To be honest, it comes to me really randomly. I have a lot of food puns; I’m usually in the kitchen cooking and all of a sudden something will pop in my head. Or my husband will tell me something that he thinks is really funny and then I kind of edit it into something that I think would work better.
Can you talk to us about your most well known saying?
“Let’s avocuddle” that is my best-selling, most well-known design. They are two avocados holding hands and they’re smiling and just want to cuddle. And how I thought of this was that I was cutting avocados in my kitchen and making guacamole and I thought of this saying. I put it on a card and it’s exploded. It was late December 2014 when I came up with it and it has exploded. In the beginning of 2015 when I put the card up on easy and my website, it was an internet phenomenon, which is really weird to say. But it’s been viewed by over 20 million viewers on Instagram, it’s been copied in many different countries which is flattering to a certain extent.
What’s your favourite thing about running your own business/working for yourself?
It’s only been a couple weeks but my favourite thing is just being able to curate everything in my own shop because even at shows, you’re limited on what kind of products your able to sell. But now, I can carry other plush toys, etc. So all of my items, seeing all the customers; I can tell them my story and a lot of the local customers are always interested in how I started. Everything used to be online and through Etsy, and but now that I can have a store front, it’s literally a dream come true.
If you could work with one person or brand, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with Joy Cho from “oh joy!”. She is like my Martha Stewart. She has her own line in target, she’s a mom of two, and she’s super creative. I would love to work with her one day
How did you first get into design?
A lot of people ask me if I have a background in graphic design or illustration and to be honest, I don’t. My dad is a graphic designer, so I’ve always been artistic that way. I actually went to school for Marketing, so it kind of relates what I do now. But everything that I learned in school is pretty much obsolete now, because everything has changed. Even social media didn’t exist back then and that is my number one tool in the field. Drawing has always just been a hobby; I haven’t really studied it. The process is pretty easy, I draw everything on paper and then I scan it into illustrator and I perfect everything in illustrator like the shapes, lines, colours. Those are for the cards. For other items, I’ve since expanded my line onto pillows and water bottles, pins and patches. I’m waiting for plushies to arrive so that’s the next big thing.
What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to start their own business in the creative field?
Experiment! Sometimes if you concentrate and focus on one specific aspect, and it doesn’t turn out. Change it, mould it into something customers understand and would like like. And if that doesn’t work, then just keep trying. You never know, and you can never expect what’s going to work out or not. But if you believe in the work, keep at it.
What is the hardest thing about owning your own business?
The hardest thing about owning your own business is balancing the hours between when I’m here and at home. I have a 5 year-old daughter and my work hours are only when she;s in school. That window is very small, it’s from 9:00 – 3:00 p.m. I do have staff who work to keep the store open, but the hardest part is when I go home and I feel guilty for not being at the store and vice-versa. Summer will be interesting because my daughter is too young to go to overnight camp, so she’ll probably be at the store a lot. So if you see a little girl running around when you come in, she’s mine. She’s not a lost kid.
Can you talk to us about how you first got into selling at markets?
My first biggest show was the National Stationary Show in New York. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, I literally just googled stationary shows when I was rocking my daughter to sleep and I came across this big show in New York. Being oblivious as to how big the show was, I applied to it, I got in and I flew to New York a little before my daughter’s second birthday and just went for it. Little did I know, it wasn’t until I got back from the show, that it was the Biggest Stationary Show that you could get into and be involved with. When I came back, I realized how I dived into it head first with no life jacket at all. It went really well, I made a lot of contacts there. That Fall, I applied to a really small show by Dundas Square; it was only a 2 day show but I really loved the experience, I loved selling my things to customers in person (The New York trade show was more of a wholesale store). After that show, I applied to the One of a Kind Show, and it was huge! It was the biggest show that I was involved with (retail wise). And then I got hooked on shows.
What advice do you wish someone gave you through this process?
Some of the advice that I wish somebody gave me when I was starting out was just to go for it. Because if you don’t, you’re never going to start, and it’s never going to happen, and somebody else is probably going to do it before you. Also little things when it comes to starting up a business or opening up a shop, make sure that you’re financially able to do all of this. Just because you have an idea, you always have to have a back-up plan in whatever you’re doing. It’s great if you want to just go for it but you also have to thing of finances, especially with your family if you’re attached to somebody. And just make sure that you have plans in order if the first one doesn’t go well.
Are you happy with the decision to open this store?
I am so happy with this decision. The shop has literally been a dream come true!
Check out more of Queenie’s online shop and work here: