Launching a Creative Service Business With Laura Hooper Calligraphy

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Starting a Creative Service Business With Laura Hooper Calligraphy

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If you’re obsessed with weddings, there’s no doubt you’ve heard of Laura Hooper Calligraphy. As a company, Laura Hooper Calligraphy is known for her beautiful calligraphy and custom stationery they do for weddings, showers, events and more. But as an individual, Laura Hooper has made a name for herself as an amazing creative mind and entrepreneur who grew her business in a matter of years! We are so excited to feature her interview on our blog; read on to see what Laura has to say about starting a creative business!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Laura & I own Laura Hooper Calligraphy. I grew up in Los Angeles where I started my business over 12 years ago, and I relocated to the DC area about three years ago with my husband & our two pups. I’ve always been artistically inclined and feel so fortunate that I have been able to translate that into a full-time career. Other than calligraphy, I love gardening, watching shows on Netflix, & reading.

How did you first get interested in calligraphy?

My mom taught me broad-edge calligraphy when I was about 12 years old, and then when I was just graduating college, my best friend got married and I offered to address her envelopes. I definitely had a long way to go, but I started picking up client referrals and things took off from there.

At what point did you decide to use your creative skills as a way to make money? Was it a side-job at first?

I had no idea that I would be able to make a living with the art of calligraphy. We didn’t have social media and there weren’t really even blogs. I think Style Me Pretty was just getting started around that time and it was literally the only blog of its kind! My calligraphy was definitely a side-job for about 2-3 years, and once I got to the point where I could pay my rent, car payment & cell phone bill (remember I was early 20s with no mortgage, no pets, no kids…basically only responsible for myself), I left my 9-5 office job and never looked back.

Image courtesy of Jenna Kutcher

What are some roadblocks you have faced since starting LH Calligraphy?

Figuring everything out on my own was definitely a challenge. We teach workshops & there are so many business resources (Modern Calligraphy Summit & Tradeshow Bootcamp, to name a few) to help aspiring and current calligraphers and small business owners figure out where to start, what resources to look for, etc. But when I was starting out, I just had to Google and go by trial and error.

When did you decide you were ready to teach your first workshop?

I would not have been able to teach the workshops without my business partner Alyssa, who is also my sister. Her background is in event planning, so it was when she came on full-time with me in December 2013 that we were able to lay the groundwork to start our workshops in February 2014.

When you first started out, how did you go about marketing your business?

At what point did you feel like you started taking off? Well, like I mentioned before, blogs and social media didn’t really exist when I got started, so I did advertise on Style Me Pretty from the beginning, but other than that, it was a lot of word of mouth and referrals. I also sent samples and press kits out to wedding planners and started building relationships there. It definitely took a few years, and the wedding season is cyclical so there was always a “downtime” I had to plan for financially and mentally. It wasn’t until we started selling our starter kits, workshops and lifestyle goods (coasters, napkins, stir sticks, mugs, journals, etc) that things have been busy solid all year round.

Why do you think a traditional, non-technology-based creative skill like calligraphy is so popular in our digital world?

Aside from it being aesthetically pleasing, which people are drawn to, it is also a skill that takes a lot of patience and practice. Not everyone can just do it right off the bat or do it well. Pointed-pen calligraphy, which is different than general lettering, is a lot harder than it looks!

Image courtesy of Abby Jiu Photography

What’s your favorite social media channel to promote your business? Why?

Instagram because it is quick, easy & you can link (albeit temporarily in the profile link) to what you are selling, whether it’s envelope calligraphy, workshops or stationery products. We are able to share a wide range of photos that don’t need to be professionally edited, resized, etc.

How did you come up with your pricing model for your services?

When I first started, I think I was doing envelopes for $1 each, which is crazy considering the amount of time it takes for an envelope. A fellow calligrapher actually emailed me and told me that I was selling myself short, not to mention undercutting the art and other artists. I think it was around then that I first raised my rates and saw that my orders did not decline in frequency. There is a general standard of $3-$5 per envelope currently, and for us, it is based on the 25 tiers of scripts I offer that range in difficulty and in turn, the amount of time it would take to complete an envelope. Ultimately, each artist needs to determine how he or she values their own time and you can truly break it down from there. For custom projects, we take script, copy, scope and a variety of other factors into account. Groups like Modern Calligraphy Summit discuss this frequently and candidly in their private Facebook group!

What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your entire process?

To just keep going. There are always going to be times that feel overwhelming in terms of workload or if something has gone wrong. But at times like those, I remind myself to keep pushing through, figure out ways to overcome any obstacles, and sure enough, I always come out on the other side.