Name: Janna Willoughby-Lohr
Business: Papercraft Miracles
Location: Buffalo, NY
Launched: March 2013
Janna WIlloughby-Lohr says she was born to become an entrepreneur. She came up with her business idea for Papercraft Miracles while in college, and, in 2013, she launched her career as a full-time business owner. Now, Janna is busy enough at work to hire an employee, but she still makes time to give back to her community. Janna donates part of her profits to Gay & Lesbian Youth Services in Buffalo. She also serves on the board of the Buffalo/Niagara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners where she speak to high school girls interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
Hi Janna! Tell us about your business, Papercraft Miracles.
Papercraft Miracles is an eco-friendly stationery and bookbinding studio. We specialize in decorative handmade papers, plantable paper, seed bombs and handbound books. We also provide graphic design services, book design and layout and we teach workshops. All of our products are handmade at our solar-powered studio with love and a little bit of magic. Our primary customer base is women between 25-55 and anyone who has a tactile nature combined with a deep respect for the environment.
What did it take to turn your idea into a real product?
I came up with the idea of my business while I was in college, and, in fact, I built my college major around it. Since the business is technically my art for sale, I didn’t need a prototype or anything like that, although I’m constantly working on new product development. Turning my idea into a functioning business took several years of real-life experience in running someone else’s business first.
What’s one thing you know now that you wish you’d known when you were starting out in business?
I wish I had known how integral the internet would become to the world and what Facebook would turn into. I would have spent much more time earlier on developing my website and online presence.
What has been most satisfying about starting and running your own business?
I love being able to change someone’s whole day with my art. Frequently someone will come up to my table at a show. They’ll be looking at the pieces, and then I start telling them about the products -- how they are made, what they are made from and the story behind their existence. Before I know it, they are smiling and sending out good energy in a way that they weren’t doing before. My company lets people own an experience they can enjoy again and again.
What has been most challenging or surprising about starting and running your own business?
The biggest challenge has been time management. I work at home with my two boys who are both under the age of four. The time I have available to work is really limited. I have grown my company as much as I can by myself, and I have just hired my first employee to help keep up with the constant demand for my products.
Entrepreneurs tend to think “differently” from people who work a traditional 9-5 job. Tell us about your “mindset” as a self-employed person.
When I had a 9-5 job, I was eager to stop thinking about work at 5 p.m. Working for myself, I am always thinking about my company, and I love it. Dreaming about the future possibilities and planning how to get there is such a fun adventure.
What do you hope to gain from attending QuickBooks Connect?
I hope to gain more customers, of course. I really hope to get contacts from across the country to increase my network of people to learn from. I’m always learning through talking to other people, and I expect to learn a lot at Connect!
Now it’s your turn
QB Community members, how long did it take you to turn your idea into an official business? What steps did you take to make it happen?
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