So We Started a Business


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Letterfolk

If you follow my Instagram account, you may have seen that Johnny and I just launched a new side business/hobby/thingy. We’re not 100% sure what it will be, but we’re excited to finally launch it! We’ve opened an online shop called Letterfolk that sells letter boards (the ones you might see at a neighborhood chapel or in vintage class photos) fit for the walls of a home. This is another piece in our self-employment journey (read: this is not a sales pitch), so I wanted to share a little more about where it fits in with our lives and budget.

How Letterfolk Started

While we were still living in New York, Johnny and I started talking one night about wanting a letter board for our home (because remember, budgeting doesn’t mean you can’t like nice stuff). This talk evolved into wondering if other people would want to put a letter board into their own homes. And that evolved into wanting to create our own letter boards to sell someday. And it abruptly ended there since we lived in NYC and had nowhere in our small apartment to act on such an idea. But as the months went by and we started realizing we’d be moving back west, our letter board idea resurfaced. It sounded less like a business and more like a really fun and exciting side project. As we looked into it more, we realized it would take mucho time, capital, and research to make it happen. We weighed the pros and cons of moving forward and decided we’d always wonder “what if” if we didn’t give it a try.

How We Planned + Saved

Planning: When we moved to Utah, we made sure to rent a home that could accommodate our new side hobby. And even though we’re at the very beginning stages, we’ve had to learn so many little intricacies that we didn’t even think about, like having a retail site, shipping products, and making sure we had our business licensing and accounting ducks in a row.

Saving: Not all, but most, businesses require an upfront investment of some sort. For ours, we decided to use some of our “someday house” fund as our investment money. So basically we loaned ourselves money. We’re in no rush to buy a home just yet, so that money would just be sitting, wishing, waiting otherwise.

How It Affects Our Budget

Our budget itself hasn’t changed much. We often hear about people starting their dream business and putting it all on the line financially to make it a reality. Letterfolk is not that kind of business. It’s very much a side hobby right now. Johnny’s still basically working full time in a consulting capacity, bringing in our income that way. So we’re not relying on Letterfolk for our income; it’s just a side business we feel passionate about. We both love finding decorations to fill our home (which has caused many a disagreement), and this is a piece of art we especially love, in part because it can be personalized for anyone in any home.

And now it’s just another piece of our self-employment adventure. Just like investing, we knew it was important to have a diversity of revenue streams, and this helps to minimize the risk of putting all of our potential income in one basket. Most of the financial pressure is off since we’re a) not relying on it for our main income and b) already building back the money we spent on initial inventory. This process has been really exciting for us, but I think we’re a bit excitable perhaps. We are fully aware that we have no clue what we’re actually doing, but we’re learning and just going with it. That’s what life’s all about, right?

We’ll keep you updated on how it’s all going as time goes by! So that’s us these days. If you didn’t already think we were crazy (which is unlikely), you probably do now. Anyone else out there starting a side venture or considering starting one?

If you’re interested in this piece of our puzzle, you can also follow us on Instagram @letterfolkco where we’ll give more regular updates.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Rachel October 26, 2015 at 7:41 am

    What an awesome idea! If I lived in the same country I would be definitely purchasing one! Good luck with this new adventure, I have every confidence you will make a success of it. x

  • Reply Kate @ Cashville Skyline October 26, 2015 at 8:56 am

    What a cool idea for a side business! I love those signs. And I’d love to add another side hustle that’s not related to money. Writing about money rocks. But sometimes it’s good for the brain to create something beautiful with your hands :)

  • Reply Cate M. October 26, 2015 at 9:21 am

    We still use an “old school” letter board as our welcome board where I work. Whenever we have customers come in I put their names up there. It would look better if our entire building decor weren’t so outdated…
    I love the idea of a letter board in the house though, especially for baby milestones!

    I haven’t been considering a side job necessarily but I have been considering a career change from working mom to in-home daycare provider so that I can be the one watching my kids instead of paying someone else to do it! Its just a big and scary step to take since my current income in stable and daycare could be unpredictable and we need my income to survive.
    Tough decisions!

  • Reply [email protected] October 26, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    I’m curious, what would you use the letter board in your home for? I’m trying to think of how it could be a useful item to my home because I think they look really cool, but I’d want it to be useful too.

  • Reply Suzanne October 26, 2015 at 2:47 pm

    Congratulations to you both! What a fantastic idea! Very best wishes to you in this new venture, I hope you have much success with it! Xx

  • Reply rachel October 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    Ordered! I’m so excited because I’ve been lusting after the board you’ve been using for baby milestones :)

  • Reply Michelle Schroeder October 26, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    Congrats. Awesome idea!

  • Reply Bethany R October 26, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Oh my gosh! @letterfolkco popped up randomly on my “explore” tab on Instagram, which is something I always check during those middle-of-the-night feedings, and I fell in love with it! I immediately thought of like 5 ways I could use it/ decorate with it! So I added it to my Pinterest “wish list” right away. I had no idea it was you guys!! How fun!! I’ll be emailing you for a promo code shortly!

  • Reply Sarah @ the frugal millionaire October 26, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    Hi!! What an awesome idea!! Honestly, I think a lot of people who can’t necessarily create their own art (like on a chalkboard) will LOVE this (myself included!!). Congratulations on turning your idea into a reality! :)

  • Reply Katie @ This That & the Budget October 28, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I just stalked all of the pics on Instagram and I really love the letter boards! Especially the dinner menu idea. One day I will have a house and I will have room to hang one somewhere…until then, good luck with starting your new business!!

  • Reply Melanie December 26, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Intriguing!

  • Reply Nancy March 17, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    Hi! Would you be willing to share how much money you had to invest at first in your business to get it started?

  • Reply Brynn October 16, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    I am a big fan of Letterfolk and MFB– I love your down to earth approach to life! I’m working on a “side project” business, and would love some advice on budgeting for it. For an online venture such as Letterfolk, what start-up costs are worth investing in? Any advice for finding someone to manufacture your products? Thanks!

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