These Sisters Found Their Startup Win in Stickers from Asia
You can wear many hats running a business and sometimes some look better than others. Thanks to Office Depot, we're talking with Koyun Fan, co-founder of Sticky Rice Sisters, about finding inspiration along the way and staying organized on the road to success.
B+C: What set you on this entrepreneurial path of Sticky Rice Sisters?
One day I was looking for stickers and cards to use to write to kids for a program I volunteer for when I came across Etsy shops selling products I was familiar with, growing up in Taiwan. I always had easy access to cute stickers and stationery, so I thought I should just bring them to the U.S. myself and also share Taiwanese culture with others. I also thought that if others can do it, I can do it too. I had been a marketing professional for many years before starting the store. I was still working full-time when I first started, and thought this could be something fun to work on outside of work. Also, I thought that with my marketing experience, running and promoting a store shouldn't be too hard. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
I've thought about taking a business course or pursuing an MBA previously, but the cost and commitment made it difficult to. When I saw the 10-week-course on Brit's Instagram, I knew it was right for me. Since everything would be online and recorded with unlimited future access, I knew I would have enough time to consume all the information and refer back to it whenever I wanted.
I had a great experience with all the coaches. They were amazing and super helpful. I learned so much about the different aspects of business, from ideation, to creating new products, operations, legal, finance, marketing and more! I love how the course started with helping us establish the right mindset. The coaches taught us to not limit ourselves. My coach, Naomi Powell, was always challenging us on our beliefs about ourselves and she would tell us to set higher and bigger goals. It is definitely something I always think about now and I have her voice in my head.
All of my classmates were AMAZING. Everyone was so talented and so willing to share. It was truly a community of women who were cheering each other on and rooting for each other.
B + C: What's the biggest challenge you face as a small business owner?
Not knowing if I am doing things "correctly" has definitely been an obstacle. I have tackled this by sending out surveys to our customers and followers asking for their feedback. This is also something Brit would always talk about--we should just ask others what they think instead of guessing. People are pretty good at giving honest and helpful feedback and it really helps with thinking about future plans.
B + C: Who are your role models in the entrepreneurial space?
Not to sound super cheesy, but I would say it's Brit. She is such a great example of Selfmade. She started the company by herself and continues to innovate and inspire. She always radiates positive energy and in the Selfmade course she made herself available to everyone. She didn't just share what she knows, but also brought in her network to help us. My favorite thing she said is that we are all creative--creativity exists in many different forms!
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
You will never be 100 percent ready so just start now and learn and improve as you go. You will make mistakes, things won't go as planned, you might not have customers to start, but you will learn. If you keep waiting for the "right moment," or wait until "you're ready," you have already lost time that you could've used to learn on the job or make mistakes. In the beginning, not a lot of people will know you, so it doesn't matter what you do--you can try anything you want and figure out what works and doesn't. As you start to have more customers and followers, you will start to get better and they will help you, encourage you, and support you.
B + C: What's one female-owned business that you absolutely love and support?
There are so many I love and support. To name a few fellow stationery stores: A Jar of Pickles, Occasionallish, AnnSunn, and fellow Selfmade businesses Evening Star Baby, Summer Space Studio, and The Ponnery! They are all amazing women running their own businesses.
B + C: How did receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade help grow your business?
The Office Depot scholarship gave me the opportunity to learn from Brit and all the other amazing women. It helped me not have to stress financially and I was able to invest the money for the course into the store. I also took the scholarship award as a sign to focus completely on growing the store and learn as much as I can during the course.
B + C: How do Office Depot services & products help you accomplish more for your business?
Office Depot offers more than just what they sell in store! I was able to upload documents to their website and have it printed and ready for picked up in store. It saves a lot of time and trips to the store.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I look at stores I want to become. I try not to think of them as competition but as inspirations, so when I see them working hard on their businesses it motivates me to do so as well. I also listen to motivational audio books or podcasts where they interview other business owners like How I Built This and Skimm'd from the Couch.
B + C: How do you stay organized? What tools or apps help you stay productive?
I think I'm a very organized person. I use Dropbox for photos and Google Docs for everything else. My tip would be to always name your files and have a system for it so it's easy to search and find easily when you need them.
Office Depot OfficeMax has the solutions to help you organize & save time & create the perfect workspace to help craft your story. From journals to marketing materials, Office Depot OfficeMax is your go-to for all business solutions.
Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.
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