Maria: Thank you for tuning in to episode 132! How many of you have started a small business from a class or a new hobby that you learned? Today’s guest shares how her wedding inspired her to learn letterpress. After discovering her passion, she opened up her shop. Take a listen to Cayce as she coaches us into believing in our dreams!
Maria: Hi Cayce, thank you so much for being here!
Cayce: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to chat.
Maria: I love to feature creative artists on this show. Can you tell me how you found your passion for stationary and how that led to your business?
Cayce: So I’ve always been a creative person. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do as a business, I was trying out many different things; sewing, knitting, crochet, all sorts of things like that. But none of them felt kind of the right way to go business-wise. And when I was planning my wedding – this was back in 2009 – letterpress was huge for stationary, and unfortunately it was out of our budget.
So I went and found a class. I was living in San Francisco at the time and the class did an introduction to letterpress stationary. And it was just immediately like, “oh, I love this.” It’s the perfect kind of combination of hands on, getting messy with these old machines, and then this beautiful final product.
So from there it took me a while to finally get into building a business. But once I started, it was like, that was it. That was where I was going. And I started my business, I’d say properly towards the end of 2012. So it’s been nearly 10 years that I’ve been running it.
Maria: Okay, that’s great. I find it so interesting that you said that you tried a lot of different things because as creative people, sometimes we have many passions. What I found for myself is that I would, like you said, maybe try crocheting. And then I thought, you know, do I really wanna crochet like 500 of these blankets when it takes forever?
And I love the idea of trying all these things and then kind of sitting with it for a little while, because it’s easy to get excited and then start a business. And then realize, oh, I don’t wanna do this for hours on end. But when it’s something that you really, really like – I think you found your thing – it doesn’t seem like a job anymore. Right? It seems fun.
Cayce: Yeah. No, exactly. I think for me personally, a lot of the other creative things that I had tried, it was a bit like what you said with, I enjoyed doing this for myself as a way to kind of wind down, but could I see myself actually wanting to do this over and over and over again?
And I think what I love about the stationary, especially because what I tend to mostly do is like note cards and stuff like that for people to use for weddings. Stationary and thank you cards and that kind of stuff. What I love is that it’s a similar process, but it is so different every time based on all the different factors that people choose.
And so I like that there’s so much variety in what I’m printing, even though it’s a similar end product.
Maria: So the technique is maybe similar, but the end product is completely different for each person.
Cayce: But it’s also working with the old, the old presses. Growing up, my dad was a woodworker and so I grew up in his wood shop, helping him out with the tools and doing all that kind of stuff.
And so I loved, with the letterpress as well, having that combination of getting to work with the machines as well as then making this beautiful end product that is quite delicate, I would say, in some sense.
Maria: Well, what is the process like if somebody wants to order a product from you, is it completely custom? I did go on your Etsy site and it looks like you offer some things that look more like cursive or more like a handwritten font. And I was curious to know, how do you get that into letterpress?
Cayce: So it’s an interesting mix the old technology with the newer technology.
All of the design is done on the computer in Illustrator, and then I send the files to a woman who creates the printing plates for me. So they’re like a photo polymer.
So then instead of using the handset type, which does come in lots of different fonts, but a lot of the more modern calligraphy that’s quite popular now you can’t get in the metal fonts, so I prefer to do it with the photo polymer printing plates.
And then you just use those on the press in the same way that you would with the handset type.
But when I did start in the classes that I took, it was all the handset type and that kind of thing.
You have to have a lot of space to store all the different fonts.
So, you know, it’s messier and dirtier and, you know, I run my business out of my house. Using the plates that I do is an easier process as far as all that goes.
Maria: And does that still provide a little bit of an indentation? Like the old letter presses?
Cayce: Yeah And actually in some senses you can push it a little bit more because with the older type, if you press it too much into the paper, you risk damaging the metal. And then that letter wouldn’t be usable anymore.
Whereas with the plates, I do keep them. So if people reorder, you know, I can use it again, but because you’re making a new one for every job, then you can kind of press it into the paper a little bit more to get that real letterpress look and feel without worrying about damaging the type.
Maria: What do you feel was the biggest struggle that you had in starting your small business?
Cayce: I guess I can go into a little bit with the self doubt here, but for me specifically, it’s been a lot of just doubting myself, wanting to do new things.
And then not feeling like I was ready or good enough, or a lot of comparison, that kind of thing.
Those are the biggest struggles that I’ve had with my business.
The other thing for me is time. I’ve been doing my business basically part-time around my kids since I started. And so there’s always been, you know, oh, if I only had more time, I would’ve been able to do X, Y, and Z, but with childcare and all of that, I mean, it is what it is.
Maria: I think the hardest thing when you’re trying to juggle running a business and also raising kids is that sometimes I think that balance is so difficult to find. It’s nice that you’re able to do both.
Cayce: Yeah. I mean, some of the only reason I’ve stuck to it, but one of the reasons that I’ve continued on is because it has given me so much flexibility and freedom to be there for my kids and do the school pickups and drop offs and the millions of activities that they have, especially, you know, at the end of the school year.
I think running a business and having that flexibility and freedom has just been amazing. When I had my younger one, being able to take the time off and saying I don’t have any kind of employer that I have to answer to. I can choose to close down my shop for a little while so that I can focus on our time together and then trust it will be there when I’m ready to go back to it.
Maria: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue coaching?
Cayce: So that came about, I’d say about two years ago. And as I was looking, my youngest son was getting up to the age where he was gonna be starting to go to full time school. And it was at that point where I thought, okay, do I wanna go full time into printing, or do I wanna explore other options? And I love the printing. I’m not ready to give it up, but I wanted something that offered a little bit more connection to people. So. I looked into coaching and I really loved the process.
So I decided to pursue that as well. I did training, I’ve done a couple of different trainings over the past couple years, and always knew that I wanted to work with other creative business owners because I feel like I have such a connection and a lot of experience, and you don’t have to be an expert to be in something to be able to help people.
But I think having that similar experience or knowing what it’s like can help me to connect with people.
Maria: Well, what do you feel is the biggest struggle that a creative person constantly runs into?
Cayce: I think there’s a lot of self doubt, lack of confidence, lack of trust, not trusting that they know how to run their business.
I know that there’s always things to learn, but not just being able to make a decision on the business and say, “Okay, I trust that I’m gonna be able to do this. I’m gonna be able to make this work.” And then things like procrastination and perfectionism, I think those show up a lot with people. With people that I’ve worked with, getting caught up in those really small details and then not being able to actually move forward and do the things that you want to do in your business.
Maria: Sometimes the procrastination is just a way of maybe pushing things out a little bit further. So you don’t have to actually take the leap. You know, you wanna get that thing just right. Whether it’s the logo, the tagline, the website, whatever it is. And I think, you know, ultimately what we’re fearing is that rejection – that once we put it out there, no one’s gonna like it or, or respond to it.
But what do you think is the best way to overcome having that type of adverse reaction to wanting to open up your business?
Cayce: I think for me, the biggest thing has actually been awareness. So much of our internal thoughts and the way that we react to things, and things like procrastination and all of that – we’re kind of unconsciously just doing it.
We don’t even realize that it’s happening until afterwards. And so building up an awareness of why you’re doing what you’re doing can really help to be a great first step in choosing to do something differently.
So I find a lot of journaling can be really helpful. Like why did I find that I was procrastinating today? Why was that? Why was I doing that? What was I trying to avoid? You know, what was I protecting myself from?
Like you said, judgment, that there are things like rejection or failure and even success like that can be quite scary thing for people, because it can be out of their comfort zone.
And so, oh, if I’m worried about this product actually taking off and doing well and not being able to handle it, then I won’t actually do what I need to do to put it out there.
Maria: Right. It feels like we’re born with a certain level of confidence as kids or when we’re younger and slowly we start to lose it in some areas and then it feels like we might grow our confidence in other areas. And like you’re saying, tracing it back or trying to see what you’re really trying to avoid is probably the most helpful exercise you could do.
Cayce: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think it’s not a quick or easy process to understand all of this. But once you do realize like, “oh, I’m doing this because even a belief that my parents held that they passed on to me”, or, you know, something just in society tells women that we can’t do X and we hold onto it and it affects what we do.
So, yeah, just building that awareness and then realizing the more that you do that, the more that you can kind of catch yourself earlier and earlier in the process, if you know what I mean? So that you can say, “oh, you know, I’m doing something today that feels scary.”
So I know that I have a tendency to procrastinate, so what can I do to stop doing that before it even happens? That’s kind of, I think the end goal, you know, you’re never gonna get rid of self doubt. That mechanism is always gonna be there, because it’s built into us. But how can you build the tools to say, “okay, now I’m not gonna let that part of me be in control anymore.”
Like I’m gonna let this other part of me, the one that has the dreams and the goals. That’s the side that I want to listen to.
Maria: I can’t imagine getting to a point in life where you look back and you think, well, geez, I let the fear of judgment or rejection hold me back from my dreams. So, sometimes we look at coaching and think of it as something that’s just an extra, but I think if you’re really in that stuck position, it’s almost necessary. It’s not really something additional or fluff on the side. It really feels like it’s something that’s integral, so that you can achieve these dreams.
Cayce: Yeah, I agree completely. I mean, I know from my own personal story with my printing business, I look back now at all of the things that I wanted to do over the years that I didn’t feel like I had the confidence to do because of the self doubt and the worry and the fears and all of that. And it does make me sad, but I got to a point, you know, I’m in my forties now where I just was like, I’m tired of letting that part be in control. And so getting coaching and being coached and learning the tools and the processes and helping other people even help.
Doing stuff like that is big for me personally, because I learn so much from working with other people.
Maria: What services do you offer? Or can you tell me what a coaching session would look like?
Cayce: I offer two kinds of main coaching services. The first one is 30 day intensive, and it starts with a session where somebody comes with one thing that they’re feeling really stuck on. And we have like a 90 minute deep dive into that issue. What sorts of things are they doing? What are they not doing? What do they want to be doing? They leave with a plan to take action, and then there’s like follow up 30 days later with support, email or something like that in the middle to try to do just one thing.
And then there’s longer term coaching, which is like four months where you come init with a goal or, you know, even just a feeling like something’s not working, that there’s something that I want to be different in my business. And that is a lot more deeper. So it goes into the stories that you’re telling yourself.
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Each session is different just based on where in the process the person is, what they’re specifically working on. There’s visualizations that we do. There are different tools and activities and that kind of thing that I provide for people to use between sessions. But a lot of it is planning out actions: What do you want to do? And how can you do that in a supportive way? And then as it goes through the coaching, it’s just to try to build that trust in yourself. Like I can take these actions. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s okay if I procrastinate.
Maria: I think the awareness sounds like it’s the main key. If you’re aware that you’re doing something, I think you can then give yourself permission to keep doing it. And because now, you know, you’re aware of it and you’re accepting the reason why, because otherwise it just feels like you’re a victim to this procrastination all the time.
Cayce: Yeah, exactly. I mean, and there’s a lot of talk about, uh, self sabotage and that kind of thing. And I think that can be no helpful, really, because I like to think of it as there’s a part of you that’s trying to protect you. And so, you know, obviously the actions that you’re not doing with your self sabotage, you’re really protecting yourself from these things that you feel that you don’t feel comfortable doing.
And so reframing it as that, I think can be really helpful.
Maria: Casey, can you give me a valuable piece of advice that you’ve learned from, or about being an entrepreneur?
Casey: The most important thing is just to listen to yourself. To trust what’s best for yourself and your business. And like I said before, there’s always things to learn, but instead of getting into that loop of always feeling like you don’t know enough, actually trust that you probably do know.
Maria: Can you tell me how we can connect with you?
Maria: Okay, perfect. Is that for both Etsy and the coaching?
Cayce: No, my Etsy shop is Cerulean Press.
Maria: Okay, perfect. Well, thank you, Casey! I really appreciate you being here today.
Cayce: Oh, thank you so much. I really enjoyed chatting.