Though our curated boxes of treasures are based on the seasons in Nova Scotia, they are perfect for a variety of occasions. Our Spring Box has a selection of anniversary, birthday, gratitude and love cards from our favorite card company Halifax Paper Hearts. Each card is designed and printed in small batches and hand packaged in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax Paper Hearts is a greeting card company that believes in fairy tales & snail mail... and they believe in cultivating closeness through the written expression of love, celebration, encouragement & grace.
I recently caught up with Owner & Designer Stefanie MacDonald, to get her insight on building a stationery company in Nova Scotia.
What has been the most interesting thing you’ve learned (about yourself, or the industry, or being an entrepreneur, etc.) while running your business? I have learned so much about myself through the process of starting and growing a business. I have learned a great deal about my own personal cycles of creativity and productivity; and that no one can reasonably expect themselves to be in a mode of outputting all of the time. We have to make space, and take time to experience the integration of what we have learned, experienced and taken in. We need to sleep, to explore, to play, to eat delicious food, to be adventurous, and to feel connected to the people that we love. When we constantly push, and push, and push - inspiration suffocates, we have nothing left to give anyone, and our curiosity drowns in a sea of busy-ness. I also learned that entrepreneurship comes in all forms. We can get so caught up in the popular hero’s journey narrative of the start-up scene, which doesn’t fit all business types. We hear glorified stories of struggle in the media, which focus on people taking massive personal and professional risks in the name of gaining fast traction. That model of entrepreneurship is certainly appropriate for some organizations, but it just doesn’t fit my level of risk tolerance. I have learned that you can choose to build a viable, scalable company on retained earnings in a way that feels right to you.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting their own business? Explore the opportunity in front of you. You don’t need to have all of the answers today. If you think it is bigger than you, it is. Break it down into steps that you can check off a list. If you don’t know how to do something, ask. Contact people you admire in the industry and ask them for advice, guidance, 10 minutes of their time (people will surprise you). No one can do the work for you. Get creative about solutions, partner with others to conquer big ideas – and if something “just doesn’t feel right”, that is enough of a reason not to do it.
What do you see as the biggest opportunity for local business owners or people who want to start their own business? I would say that the biggest opportunity that local business owners (or aspiring owners) have is their ability to adopt a wider perspective from where we are. I would encourage local business owners to use our province as a playground to test out your concepts and ideas, in order to offer those proven ideas to other markets. In my industry, if I want to grow a team, the province (and even the region) is not a big enough market for me to sustain long-term growth. If I want to grow my business, I know that I need to “face out”. When I travelled to a national giftware show in Toronto to meet retail buyers earlier this year, I had already learned so much from my wonderful Atlantic Canadian retail partners. I am so grateful to my first retail partners who helped me to create products that their customers truly wanted, design appropriate signage and display solutions, and find the right pricing, promotional and outreach programs. They truly allowed me to test (and fail at) ideas before I debuted them nationally.
In addition to being the Creator of Nova Box, I am also a “Big Thinker + Connector” with Halifax Paper Hearts. I am so lucky to work closely with Stefanie, and learn from her experience in growing an Atlantic Canadian company. As we plan our expansion into the U.S. market (a market 10X that of Canada), we will continue to view our partnerships as relational and not transactional – as behind every one of our retail boutiques is a team of people that we value and love!