Ever felt that gut feeling that your current job isn’t your forever job? Ever felt more than once? Today’s guest is a true testament to what it means to courageously listen to your gut, even when it means going against the grain.
Before founding Effie’s Paper, a stationary company based on female empowerment, Kalyn Johnson Chandler followed her interest through some pretty prestigious careers. However, she realized that just because she liked learning about something, it didn’t mean she’d be making the most of herself in that career path.
Tune into today’s episode to hear:
- How Kalyn’s work as a Minority Peer Advisor in college led her to her first career path
- How Kalyn’s determination always kept her moving forward. Or as she says, “I’ve come this far in pursuing my dreams, I’m going to do it right.”
- How Effie’s Paper is leading a female empowerment movement through everyday changes and messaging
Transcript of Episode
Leah Gervais: Hey visionaries. Welcome back to the Your Biggest Vision show. I’m your host, Leah Gervais and I’m very excited to share today’s guests with you at Kalyn Johnson Chandler. Hey Kalyn.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Hi Leah. How are you doing?
Leah Gervais: I’m well. How are you?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: I’m good, thank you.
Leah Gervais: Good. I am so, so excited to have you here. Um, for everyone out there listening, Kalyn is an attorney turned entrepreneur and more than just an entrepreneur, she is a Stationair, a graphic designer. She’s extremely creative, which is so amazing cause it’s like the opposite of what *unable to transcribe* and she is the founder of Effie’s paper and the creative director and she and I met at an entrepreneurship program here in New York, a panel we were both speaking on and she is just the most down to Earth yet inspirational entrepreneur. And when I just heard her share her story, I knew that I wanted to have her on with you guys. So thanks again for being here.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Oh well thank you for such a lovely introduction.
Leah Gervais: t’s easy. My pleasure. So Kayln take us back a little bit. So I want to get to know more about your transition from being a lawyer to founding Effie’s Paper and the creative beautiful business you now have. But tell me a little bit about when you were growing up, what did you think your career was going to be like when you were in college or high school?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Oh Wow. Um, you know, to be perfectly honest with you, I just didn’t really have a clue. I thought I would probably do something in a more creative space. So I was thinking I would go into PR and when… my senior year of college at the University of Michigan, I was a, what was I called? I was a minority peer advisor for one of the dorms on campus. And during move in at the beginning of fall, the beginning of the school year there, um, there was a lot of racial tension in my dorm and in particular two young ladies that had been assigned to room together had a major falling out in like the first week of school. And it was a black woman in a white woman. And as a minority peer advisor, my job was to intervene and make sure that everybody got along, so to speak and it escalated.
The parents got involved and as a result, the university, um, at a much higher level had to get involved. And so I met and became friends with the head of PR for the university. And after we kind of got through that first month of school, he had me come to his office and said, you know, I like you, I was very impressed with how you handled this whole situation. What are you thinking you’re going to do with yourself when you finish? And I was an English major and I said, well, you know, I’m really thinking I’d like to go into PR. And he said, well, what are you doing? And I had had some internships and I was starting to send out letters and this was a long time ago. So it’s very different. The job search process was very different than from what it is now. And he said to me, well, if you can’t, you know, if something doesn’t pan out, let me know. And kind of halfway through the year, nothing was panning out. I reached out to him and he said, well, if you’re interested in staying on campus for another year, I will create a job here for you in my office that you can kind of get your arms around this PR thing and see if it’s for you and if not, I want to help you kind of think about what your next steps are. And I was like, okay, that sounds great. I love Ann Arbor. And that’s kind of how I began my career path.
Leah Gervais: Wow. Okay. So much that, that’s an amazing story. That’s like gotta be one of the best stories I’ve heard yet so far. I, I like, you know, looking at where entrepreneurs thought they were going to be before they ended up where they are now. And I would, a couple things I want to say about this. First of all, I didn’t know that you went to Michigan. That’s awesome. My fiance is an alumni of Michigan and he loved it.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Go blue.
Leah Gervais: Yeah. Oh my God. I swear I hear all fall. But so you were a minority… what was the title?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Advisor
Leah Gervais: When you were 18?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: No, I was like 20-21. I was a senior.
Leah Gervasi: Okay. Still though, I mean what took, where did this initiative come from? White and you re like decided that you were going to take something so complex on?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Well, um, to be perfectly honest with you, if you are some kind of advisor in the dorm, your room and board are paid for. And so that was part of the appeal. The other part of the appeal was that, um, while I was at Michigan there was just a lot of racial tension on campus and I wanted to help be a part of solving the problem. Having, you know, I have a somewhat unique background in that I grew up in a predominantly white area and have always been in the position of needing to learn how to talk to both sides. And so I also felt that I was, I don’t want to say uniquely qualified, but I certainly had had some experience prior to arriving on campus. And then having been there for three years already, I certainly felt that by the time I was a senior I had something to contribute.
Leah Gervais: MMM. Amazing. Okay. So you end up working PR in Ann Arbor for another year or so, and then you somewhat pivot and you end up in law school in New York. Did you go to law school in New York?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Well, no, not, that’s another step before that. So my pivot was, is I was working in PR at the university and had an opportunity to sit in on all kinds of meetings and learn about the back end of university life, so to speak. I became very interested in education policy and as a result of that I decided to go to policy school. So I went to the University of Chicago to get a master’s degree in public policy studies. While I was there focusing on education policy, I learned that there was a deep intersection between the law and policy. And so that’s what prompted me to go to law school. So when I finished policy school, I went back to Ann Arbor to go to law school and then while I was in law school thinking that I was going to move to DC and work for some think tank, I had a ton of debt and was like, Oh my God, I’m going to have to go work at a law firm one to learn how to be a lawyer so that I can hopefully parlay this into something else. But two, I have to be able to pay this debt off. And so that’s, that was kind of the next step in the, in the journey.
Leah Gervais: I remember when I was applying to law school and I really thought that I wanted to go to law school and then work at some foundation or a nonprofit with my law degree. And when I got accepted and I was calculating the debt, I was like, I’m going to have to graduate from law school and open up a nonprofit for me for all the depth that I’ll have. That’s really real. Okay, great. I have lots of questions about this. So you end up, you moved to New York. Can you do corporate law? Would you, um, would you make the same decision again? Would you go to law school again?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: I would, yeah. And the reason I say that is, um, I love learning and what I loved about… well loved is, is a, it’s easy to look back and say loved. But um, what I really enjoyed about law school and quite honestly about practicing law was the intellectual pursuit of it. It really honed my curiosity. It taught me how to think incisively how to analyze situations and problems. And so getting that background in law school and then going to a big law firm and applying that skillset and learning how to practice law or learning how to listen to clients and fair it out, what the true issues were from the fluff or the, the, the, um, the extraneous things that people often caught up on was really interesting. It was very stressful, don’t get me wrong, but it was interesting. And then working around other really smart people was something that I didn’t know, I really enjoyed until I walked away from it and realized how much I missed having my colleagues around, not just because they were my colleagues, but because they were really smart people who were thinking at a very high level. Um, you know, and that’s good and bad. It was great. It was intellectually stimulating, but it was also very ivory tower because that is just not the way most of the world functions.
Leah Gervais: Right. Man, you have had so much life experience. It’s truly incredible to hear. And okay, so you come to New York and you end up working in big law. I’m assuming you pay off at least most of your debts during that time. And I remember you sharing with me that you knew it wasn’t your forever path though. Something in your gut just wasn’t fully happy. And I think one of the things that I really struggled with when I was starting my business, and then I hear people struggle with a lot is this internal conflict around whether or not you have what I call grass is always greener syndrome, where you just think that something else will be better, but you’re convincing yourself that maybe it’s not because you’re just allowing yourself to envision something better. But on the other hand, you’re kind of ignoring your intuition and your gut that’s telling you that you could be happier doing something else. And so I’m wondering if you experienced this somewhat intensely because you were in a really good quote, “situation”. On paper, you had a dream job. So what was that like for you?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: You know, I’m in my own little head. I was very clear about the fact that I did not intend to be a career law firm person. Like that just wasn’t ever my intention. But conveying that to other people was really difficult because it seemed like I had this great life and lifestyle and I did. But, um, it certainly came at a cost. And for me the cost was, it felt more compounded because it wasn’t the place I had intended to land it just so I sort of landed and I was very lucky to have landed where I did land. But, um, I just, I wasn’t the happiest camper. And there are many, many reasons as to why very little of which had to do with actually practicing law. It has to do with the politics and how these law firms operate and who gets to work on which projects and on which deals. And um, you know, yeah. That was much more frustrating to me than the practice of law itself. If I had been able to practice law in a perfect environment, which of course we know does not exist, I might still be practicing law to be perfectly frank. But it was all of the other things that came with it.
So for example, I worked at one of the largest firms in the world and I had worked, I had summered in two different offices. I worked as a lawyer in two different offices. I knew lots and lots of people at the firm around the country and internationally. But in this farm of over 2000 attorneys, there were maybe, and I’m being generous, maybe there were 20 African American lawyers. And so, it wasn’t a particular, particularly diverse environment. It wasn’t an environment where as nice as people were as welcoming as they were hoping to be, um, it just was not a place that understood or was quite frankly concerned with having a diverse population of lawyers. Their mantra was, we want the best and the brightest and we’re only looking in this pot. Right. We find you great. If we don’t, that’s okay too. And that can be wearing.
Leah Gervais: Right. So when along those annoyances or when maybe annoyance isn’t the right word, because I think you did make really clear that, you know, it sounds like you were just out of alignment cause just wasn’t what you were meant to do and you, you knew that. Um, and you know, that’s really simple. At the end of the day, a lot of people do know that. They know that they’re not living in alignment, but they don’t know how to get out of it. They don’t know who to talk to about it, you know, they bring a lot of drama around it. And that’s not putting any blame on anyone. It’s just that we don’t often know how to process it, especially when the people in our lives are sort of enabling us to continue living in a way that isn’t really what we want. And so it sounds like you were clear on that, where along the, you know, timeline or what was the tipping point? Whether it was the politics of the law firm or your own inner self basically saying, I just can’t live it no matter how high I’ve landed, it’s not where I wanted to land. What prompted you to start Effie’s paper?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: I’m laughing. I’m like, wow. Um, so the, the, the, the shorter answer is, um, I was an environmental transactional attorney, which is a very specialized niche area. And I had become an expert on a particular statute in the state of New Jersey that other states were looking to replicate. So I was invited to speak at conferences, write articles, et Cetera, et cetera. And um, it was in December, at Christmas time, kind of Christmas between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, I had been working on a deal that involved this particular statute. And my boyfriend and I usually spent the week between Christmas and New Years in Florida.
I got there a couple of days before him. I landed, I checked my, I turned my phone on when the plane landed. I checked my messages in, my phone just blew up. I had messed up on this deal, on this particular statute, and it was kind of like the bell just rang and I was like, clearly I have checked out because this is something I can do in my sleep. Right. And I just wasn’t paying attention. So that was kind of the beginning of, you know what, it’s time for me to leave. But I could not, I was so apoplectic at what had happened and having to go to, um, the senior person on the deal and explain what had happened in the client and this, that and the other. And it all ended up getting resolved thankfully, that I couldn’t really see the forest for the trees.
And it wasn’t until my boyfriend said to me, you know, like a week later, once everything had gotten resolved, he just said, babe, I don’t think you can do this anymore. Like, I think you really need to think about what else you would like to do with yourself. You are miserable. And I was like, what are you talking about? I’m not, I’m, I’m fine. And he was like, and no, I work in one of these places too and you’re not happy. So basically my dream job came my way. My dream legal job, and I interviewed for it and I got it. And then I had to make the decision of do I take that job and continue to practice law or do I quit and figure out what I want to be when I grow up? And it was, you know, it was stressful and nerve wracking, but once I kind of came to a decision, then the calm settled.
And so I decided to turn the job down and then I took a couple of more months to just work. And really, I had always been saving money. But at that point when I knew I was getting ready to leave and I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself, I decided, let me just like save up for another couple of months. I did that and then I quit. And nobody understood what I was doing. My parents were just appalled, you know, my dad was like, but what am I going to tell people you do? I’m not gonna have your business card to give to people anymore. It’s like, you’re not. My colleagues, people who knew me very well completely got it. But you know, most of my colleagues were like, you’re just quitting? C ause people quit and they go in house or they go to another law firm and yeah, I’m just quitting. Um, and I took, I think my last day was like kind of the middle of May. I took the entire summer off and just decompressed. I mean I just did stuff like I went to the gym, saw friends I hadn’t seen traveled, spent time with my family and by the end of that two or you know, two and a half, three months, I was starting to get bored and needed to figure out what I was going to do with myself. So prior to starting Effie’s paper, I actually had a fashion styling business for busy professionals because I had always been the friend that everybody, friend, colleague, acquaintance that, I mean people wouldn’t, I didn’t even know, would come into my office, shut the door and say, I have this black tie to go to on Friday. I was, you know, do you have any ideas about where I could go to find a nice dress or like what would look good on me and then like to my best friend who would call me and be like, oh girl, I’m in the dressing room and I have these three suits. I’m taking pictures, I’m going to facetime you. Which do you think I should buy? I have an interview in, you know, two hours.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: So, I ended up starting a fashion styling business for busy professionals. And, um, I, I got lucky. I had a good friend who was also a lawyer and was working his day job but had a side Gig. He was trying to get on air suff and he needed some help with his wardrobe. And so I said, look, I, I’m thinking I’m going to segue into this. Let me just help you get dressed for free. Like let me figure out how to do this. And then, um, I can start to charge people. And so I helped him. He got a great gig with CNN and as part of his contract he said, I need Kalyn Johnson Chandler to be my stylist. So they brought me in to dress him. They were happy with how things were going with him. And then they started having me work with some of their other on air talent.
So I was working with CNN and I also had just a bunch of regular clients, you know, regular people who needed to look good at work every day and just felt like they didn’t have the time or knowledge or wherewithal. And so they were hiring me to help them as well. And this was one of those situations where I love style and fashion, but I didn’t know anything about being a fashion stylist. So I was kind of learning on the fly. And what I learned is that it is actually a very physical job because you’ve got to go find the clothes. You’ve got to either get your person to the clothes or the clothes to your person, and then you’ve got to make sure the clothes fit properly. So you might have to hire a tailor or you might have to pin yourself and then take it to a tailor.
It was just, you know, I was schlepping a lot of stuff and I was, my weekends were taken up because, you know, people are at work, they can’t go shopping during the day. Right. And I just, I was like, you know, I really love style and fashion. I don’t know if I love this. The other interesting aspect about that business was I learned that no matter how big or small somebody is, we all have body conscious issues. And so I was also very much a psychiatrist in working to make people feel good about how they looked. And you know, the best compliment I could get from a client was one of them coming back to me and saying their friends and family had noticed that their appearance had changed. And that although they weren’t certain about spending the money for my services, like weren’t certain about spending the money for the clothes once they started getting that outside praise it, it made everything come together for them.
They were like, you were right, you said I should. And I wasn’t sure, but I did. And so and so noticed and it made me feel really good. And so that’s when I knew I had done a good job, but I also got, I just got tired and as I was sort of deciding what to do with myself, I was in the middle of planning my wedding and I, um, yeah, you know how things happen. I had hired, so I’ve always loved paper and stationary. I had hired a graphic designer in London to do our wedding stationery suite. So everything from our invitations and save the date to our wedding announcements, to all of the paper products that we’re going to be available during our wedding weekend. So we had a destination wedding, there was a gift bag and room for each guest, all that kind of stuff.
And my graphic designer was in London and her printers were in India and we were planning on getting married in a relatively short timeframe and we were coming up on monsoon season. So what she said to me is, I’m not going to be able to get everything printed for you. You’re going to have to find a printer in New York who can do some of this. And so in working with she and her team, I learned to art direct because I had something very specific in my head that I wanted and I had to learn how to talk to them so that they could understand what I wanted in and provide me with those visuals. And then by working with this printer, I had to learn that side of the business, which is, you know, figuring out what kind of paper to use and what kind of ink and what printing process and how things should be set up. And so after all of that, I was like, wow, I should really own a stationary company. This is what I should do. I can have like a widget that sells itself online and you know, I’ll just make money while I sleep. And that was literally what my thought process was. And that is how I made the segue into Effie’s Paper.
Leah Gervais: That’s amazing first of all, I absolutely love that.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: I don’t know if it’s amazing or stupid, but that’s what it was.
Leah Gervais: It’s not stupid. Although my hunch would be that you quickly came to see there’s nothing, it’s not very passive.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Yeah. No, not at all. *unable to transcribe* something antiquated like stationary.
Leah Gervais: I mean, I love that, but, okay. So I have a quick question. Backing up a little bit to when you were starting your fashion styling business, what was going on internally, especially when you sort of realize that, you know, this wasn’t going, this wasn’t quite it either, this wasn’t going to be your full time or your forever job because it was just not really clicking. Did you have any moments of freak out where you’re like, wow, okay. You know, I thought that this was going to be it and it’s still not, or were you just like, I’ve totally got this?
No, I didn’t really freak out because I think the thing was, I knew that I was good at what I was doing. It was more of a, I could continue to do this and I had started to, um, get some television gigs where, you know, I was coming on as an expert and talking with people about style and fashion and blah, blah, blah. I just, I felt like I quit my job to do something I love. I don’t love it. It’s fine, but I don’t love it. And…
Leah Gervais: What’s the point at that point? Like you’ve come this far.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Exactly. So it wasn’t a freak out. It was more of a, well, how do I parlay this? Right. I think because I was also in the middle of planning a wedding, I was, I had a good distraction and I also had a graceful way of exiting because I could say to my clients, you know, I’m in the process of planning my wedding, I’m pairing things back. And then when I got back, I had already sort of been out of their orbit for three or four months. So there were a few people who were like, I’ve been waiting for you to get back. I need help. But, I think others were kind of like, okay, either I’m good or they, you know, found somebody else to help them out.
Leah Gervais: Right. I love that, you know, attitude of if I’m like just being so committed to your own happiness and your own alignment that, you know, if things come along and they don’t work, you’re not even gonna waste one more, you know, one more day doing it. Because I think, especially for us risk takers and entrepreneurs, you often do give up a lot to get to where you are or you know, you might not feel like it’s giving up a lot, like your job. But to society it’s a lot.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: No, and look, I gave up a lot, every day I miss that secretary, I miss her. But, you know, I miss having the support of a large organization behind you, where you know, I didn’t even really know how to use Microsoft word because you can, uh, here, here’s a document, you manage it and she’s like, you should learn how to use this. Like, no, I’m good. I don’t need to know that.
Leah Gervais: Right. So how many years have you had, how many years ago did you start Effie’s paper now?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Um, about eight. But in this incarnation, we’re in year four. So when I started Effie’s paper, it was all personalized stationary. And so I should probably say to you, I’m the queen of pivots. It was all personalized stationary because that’s what I wanted, that’s what I felt was missing. But it was also at a time when cell phones became smart phones, blackberries became, you either needed to have the iPhone or an android and people were texting, emailing and DMing in a way that they just never had before. And so the need to sit down and put pen to paper, you know, sadly, essentially was starting to become obsolete. And so I found myself in a situation where I had pinned my hopes on having this business that was going to just sell itself online while I slept. And I had chosen the wrong widget and I wasn’t quite sure what to do, but fate intervened.
My website got hacked and it was October, I think it was 2014, yeah, my website got hacked and I was scheduled to go on a three week vacation a month later and I was just frantic. I didn’t know what to do. How to manage this, how to handle it. And what I decided to do was I had a web designer developer, excuse me, just sort of put a bandaid on the site so that it could continue to function without having to do a brand new site. And I was having some problems with staffing and I was like, oh my God, I’m going to be gone for three weeks. And it’s, you know, it’s the holidays and this was my most profitable time of year. And then I just decided, you know why I’m a small business. It is what it is.
And we just put a pop up on the site that basically said, gone fishing on vacations, small business, any orders placed between now and December will be shipped out in time to be received by Christmas. And I went on my vacation and I did not worry about anything having to do with this business. I came back, I fulfilled orders, I enjoyed my holidays with my family. And at the top of the year when I, you know, had some time to just sit down, I decided, you know, you named this company Effie’s paper stationery and whatnot because you wanted to give yourself the opportunity to bring in whatnot. Maybe this is the prime time to do that. And so at the top of 2015, I really started to think about what would that look like, what kind of whatnots would I like to sell? And I started doing research and basically, you know, 10 months later our whatnots came into existence. So I had a new website built. I spent some time getting my arms around social media because that was something I wasn’t particularly interested in. Um, you know, working on building up my email list, my subscriber list, and I think like Octoberish of 2015 we launched our first set of notebooks and coffee mugs. And, um, that was the genesis for what the company is today.
Leah Gervais: Wow. Oh, it’s just awesome to hear how you’ve adapted so quickly to all the, all the other things that are inevitably going to happen to any school. No, you can either let them make or break you. And I love your answer. I’m on your website. If you like, everything you do is so spot on and you clearly have such an eye for branding and your, your products are, you know, about women. Um, so you clearly are doing empowerment within your stationery products. And what, what does that mean to you? How did, where did you decide to bring that into it and what has that been like?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: You know, um, our motto is the future is female and it’s being fueled by black girl magic. And I kind of settled, like, or kind of fell into this realm when I just started to think about the sorts of things I wasn’t seeing. And the fact that I have three nieces, um, who are now 12, 18 and 20. Um, so four years ago, if you subtract out, they were a bit younger, they were all either on social media or very interested in the idea of social media. And I started to think about the messaging that these young girls were receiving and I wanted it to, I wanted them to see me doing something positive. I wanted my messaging to resonate with them. I wanted to, I wanted anything I put out, whether it was a product, whether it was a newsletter or whether it was an Instagram post or a Pinterest pin, I wanted it to be things that I would be happy for them to see and embrace. And that’s really where our empowerment mantra came from, if you will.
Leah Gervais: Have you experienced any difficulties in pursuing, you know, the piece of empowerment with it or has it been just exactly what you’ve needed?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: What do you mean by that? Any difficulties in pursuing, Do you feel like you’ve, I guess, you know, do you feel like you’ve alienated anyone or have you received any intensive messages or has there been…
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Oh yeah, of course. Yeah. You know, I’ve had people respond to one of our…. and what’s funny to me is that people take people who don’t like what you’re doing or the message isn’t for them, we’ll take the time to tell you.
Leah Gervais: Right. It’s like you could just leave.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Right. Exactly. So, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I mean, there have been people who have said things like, you know, I don’t know what this black girl magic is or you know, why are you being so political? Because I certainly have a point of view and I feel like this is a platform and I’m going to use it and if you don’t like my point of view, if you don’t agree with my point of view, then maybe my products and me just aren’t for you. And I’m perfectly okay with that. There is something for everyone out here on the Internet. And I cannot be all things for everyone, but I can be all things for the group that gets me and um, gets what we’re doing and believes in it.
Leah Gervais: Right. And those people that you aren’t, you know, this is such an important topic to me because it took, I was very thin skinned when I started out. I’m very sensitive and I took a lot of mean comments to heart. When you are getting some of those, some of that backlash, what I didn’t, now it’s logical. But at the time I didn’t anticipate how much stronger the people that stuck around would be. And that’s because when you are making a statement, yes you’re going to alienate people that disagree with it, but you’re going to only strengthen the community that’s there for it. And so if you’re not looking for any criticism, then you know fine. You can have somewhat of a bland message, but you won’t ever have that tight community, I don’t think. And you won’t really make the impact. And at the end of the day, if you’re an entrepreneur, you’re pouring your heart and soul into your business.
And so you know, people really can understand how much work goes into it. And if you’re not going to feel fulfilled in what you’re putting out there and spending like literally 16 hours a day doing, then it’s going to get empty pretty quickly. So, um, it’s totally worth it to anyone listening, feeling like you have any mean comments and I appreciate you opening up to us about your point of view on it, Kayln. Cause I think it’s really spot on. All right. So this has been amazing. It’s amazing to hear everything you’ve done. I’m like trying to process how many like careers you’ve had and how strong you’ve been in pursuing what you need to do and also the message you want to bring out to the world. What is, you know, next in your heart for Effie’s paper or what are you really excited about right now?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Um, wow. Well we’re at the beginning of the holiday season.
Leah Gervais: Oh my god, really?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Well for me, yeah. I mean, you know how holiday season for us starts in earnest kind of end of October, but you’ve got to do all the planning in the summertime. So, we are in the process of gearing up for holiday. Wow. And creating new products and ideas and our holiday campaigns and all that fun stuff. So, that’s the first thing I’m focused on. I would say the second thing and probably what I’m most excited about right now is licensing. We are working on some collaboration projects that I’m really excited about. I can’t divulge much, but hopefully within the next couple of months you will start to see some of our products in some big box stores.
Leah Gervais: Oh my God, Kalyn, congratulations.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Fingers crossed.
Leah Gervais: Oh, I am holding the vision for you. That’s fabulous.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: So what I’m so excited about with respect to that is it allows me to be creative and to come up with ideas and have somebody else take the ball and manufacture and distribute and I just get to create.
Leah Gervais: Right.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Which, you know, way back in the day you started off with what did you think you were going to do? And I said, Oh, you know, something in PR, something creative. And it’s kind of taking me back to that point.
Leah Gervais: Yes. Amazing. Well, I’m excited for you and excited that you’re at that point and it has been hugely inspirational to hear your story. Thank you for sharing it. My last question for you would just be, if you could go back to, let’s say, you know, the summer before you quit for the summer after you quit your job, or even like, right when you were starting Effie’s paper after your wedding, is there anything you would do differently?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Yes. Um, what would I do differently? I think what I would do differently is probably hire a business consultant or coach, a coach is probably a better word. I think I would hire someone who had either been down this road before or who could help me understand a little more quickly what this entrepreneurial journey is about. Um, I have definitely learned a great deal, uh, through just reading through accountability groups, friendships, mentors, et cetera. But I probably could have learned some of these lessons a little bit sooner and a little bit quicker if I had invested in bringing someone on to walk me through some of this.
Leah Gervais: Yeah. I think that that’s a great one. That’s something that I wish I would have done sooner to like don’t feel, you know, you don’t know until, you know. I know it’s, I think it’s this, this idea that we have that, you know, we need to be doing it alone. If we’re truly entrepreneurs and it’s just like what, what lies was I letting myself believe and why?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Exactly.
Leah Gervais: It’s crazy. Okay. Well thank you so, so much for sharing all of this. Congratulations on your success. I’m very excited to see what’s next for you and we really appreciate you telling your story.
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: Oh, it’s been my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me on.
Leah Gervais: Thanks, Kalyn. I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for tuning in Visionaries, talk to you all later.
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