What would you say if I told you a cupcake could change your life? You’d probably think I was talking about some five-star bakery cupcake that was almost too pretty to eat, right? For me, this cupcake was an drawing—but not just one drawing. Four. Yes, four cupcake drawings changed my life.
Four years ago, I drew four cupcake drawings to make into birthday cards. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been making greeting cards for friends & family. But something was different with these four cupcakes drawings. I didn’t want to give them away! Instead of giving away the original drawings, I made copies of them into birthday cards. (Thanks for the idea, Mom!) Then I had another idea. If I could make one copy to give to one person, why couldn’t I make many copies for more people? So I did! This idea spiraled into several more that ended with this: I wanted to start a business.
I like to think I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit—I won mini market competitions in middle school, & being an artist was my little girl dream. I LOVED playing Monopoly (like for hours). If you had told 6-year-old me I’d be starting a company at age 16, I probably would laugh and go back to coloring—but there I was in 2013 ready to take the first leap. I had no idea what I was doing (I honestly still don’t know today), but I felt a calling to my passion & I wanted to act.
On August 1, 2013, before my junior year of high school, Ashley Ink Greetings launched. I became a self-taught Etsy seller and spent hours in the studio making new drawings and building an online shop. Armed with all the colored pencils, paper, envelopes, & printing supplies an artist would need, I was ready for customers. In November 2013, Ashley Ink’s online Etsy shop opened. I’ll never forget my first order—my phone made a booming cash register cha-ching & I did a little happy dance in the car on the way back from Thanksgiving holiday. All it took was that first order—that first step—& my journey as a business owner began.
Over the past four years I have been tremendously blessed with family, friends, teachers, & mentors who have supported me more than I could ever imagine. Owning a company is not easy, & I’ve learned LOADS from these people! My mom, Michelle, is my business partner, & I couldn’t run the company without her. We’ve had lots of fun business adventure together!
In high school, I had an amazing Bible study leader who also owned a local shop. She invited me to have a pop-up shop in her store just days after starting my company. This pop-up shop was my first opportunity to sell to customers face-to-face in a store & I was hooked! This store was also my first wholesale order. That fall I had a booth in my first gift show. All of these “firsts” laid a foundation that’s built my company to where it stands today. I’m so grateful for those first people who believed in me & my company—those people who gave me an opportunity to learn & grow & go for it! If you’re reading this, you know who you are—thank you.
Over the past four years, I’ve been so excited to wholesale to about a dozen retail stores across the country & sell online to customers worldwide. I’ve had booths at multiple farmers markets, flea markets, shopping shows, & more. In 2015, Ashley Ink Greetings grew into its new name, Ashley Ink & Paperie, to include all of its fun paper goods. Now looking back four years ago, I can’t believe how fast time has gone. When I started Ashley Ink, I was a junior in high school, & now four years later, I’m about to start my junior year of college. (say what?!)
During my time at Samford, I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to challenge myself as a business owner and student. From competing in several business competitions, to being a member of the Brock School of Business’s Incubator Program for student business owners, I’m so grateful for a campus & community who support & encourage me so well. Samford is uncommon, friends!
Looking ahead to Ashley Ink & Paperie in the next four years, I’m thrilled to see what’s just over the horizon. My company may be small, but it’s every inch of growth never ceases to amaze me! My goal for Ashley Ink & Paperie is to evolve into a lifestyle brand, so stay tuned for exciting new business adventures coming soon!
Thanks for reminiscing with me–I’m so excited for many more years to come!
HEY-O, did ya hear?! We’re throwing a SHINDIG to celebrate our 4th birthday! Head on over to the Etsy shop for $10 off our new Seeds of Truth planners! Keep up with us on Instagram for more celebration happiness!
Click here to shop the cupcake collection on Etsy!