This week, we’re excited to speak Erin McManness, founder of Paper Raven Co., a stationary and illustration brand.
Tell us about your business. What does a typical day look like for you?
Paper Raven Co. is a stationery and illustration brand based in Atlanta, GA. We make paper goods for thoughtful, design-conscious women who want gift-giving to be beautiful and intentional. Our aesthetic is fun and flowery, and our product offerings range from greeting cards to fabric to wallpaper!
As the principal designer and founder, I wear all of the hats in my business. My typical day starts with responding to emails, finalizing order requests, and outreach to retail stores. Depending on current custom client requests, licensing projects or product development, I spend a few hours designing or editing.
I break for lunch, and then typically spend the afternoon working on posts for social media, designing email campaigns, or circling back on email. I end every day by making a segmented, hourly to-do list for the following day to keep myself on track.
How many miles do you drive in a typical week? Where do you drive as part of your job?
MileIQ estimates that I drive about 60-70 miles per week. Because my studio is based in my home, I usually only run out for meetings or to run errands. Because I’m a product-based business, I make a lot of trips to the post office!
I love that MileIQ lets me auto-classify drives so every time I go, I don’t even need to think about it.
What’s changed since you started using MileIQ?
It’s been so beneficial to have a system running on autopilot in the background. When you’re a small business owner, you’re in charge of every decision and every record, and time is literally money. Now, instead of keeping log books that I always forget to update, or sorting through receipts, I can see my miles at a glance in one click. It’s saved me a lot of time!
What other apps do you recommend to other small business owners
If you are a small business owner, one of the best things you can do for yourself is automate your savings. Digit is a must-have! It’s fully automated, just like MileIQ, and works without you even noticing it’s doing it’s thing.
What’s the biggest challenge you face running your business, and how do you address it?
Wearing all of the hats is a tough job, because— to be completely honest—there are parts of this job where I get into uncharted territory (like taxes: every business owner’s favorite topic). We all have a tendency to push “scary” to-do’s to the back burner, even if they’re critically important to growth.
It’s a natural habit to gravitate to safe tasks that sit comfortably in our wheelhouse. However, the biggest challenge for me has been to identify these daunting tasks and either seek out education to button it up, or consult my colleagues for a solution. And on the topic of taxes, MileIQ’s automation of my business mileage is to easy to check through and submit come tax-time.
What do you enjoy the most about the kind of work you do?
Because I am a one-woman show at Paper Raven Co., I get to be the Creative Director, Designer and Marketing Manager. These are things I really love doing in my business! Accounting … not so much.
Designing is by far my favorite part of my day. I work with a number of licensing clients and typically have anywhere from 2-5 projects going on simultaneously in any given week. I love having the variety, and when my client projects are slow, I always keep busy designing new products for the upcoming seasons.
Working for myself has brought me so much personal freedom, and I firmly believe that money can’t buy a flexible and autonomous schedule.
What tip would you share with other business owners?
The best thing I ever did for myself and my business was to invest in education and community. I have personally taken classes on both CreativeLive and Skillshare, and the amount of resources are amazing.
If you have a creative, hand-made business like I do, I highly recommend Megan Auman’s class, How to Make a Living Selling What You Make. This class takes small biz owners through branding, financial forecasting and planning, diversifying your product line, and so much more. I am a huge advocate for Megan and how this class changed my business.
When not working, what do you like to do?
When I’m not working, my boyfriend Daniel and I like to take our little Basset Hound-mix, Patty, on hikes. We have beautiful wilderness trails and the Chattahoochee River right by our house, and weekend walks are a favorite past-time. I also love the Great British Baking Show, which has reignited in me a passion for baking. In the last few weeks, I’ve made banana walnut bread, Scottish shortbread and lemon scones!
Where can people learn more about your business?
Our online store is at ShopPaperRavenCo.
You can find us on Instagram @Paperravenco.
You can also find our products in over 20 retail stores across the United States!
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MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.