Olivia of Atiliay - Paper Goods for a Good Cause

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Atiliay is a line of paper goods specializing in hand lettered greeting cards for all occasions. With their products, Atiliay hopes to help each customer send love to the special people in their lives as well as those in need around the world. Each item is paired with a non-profit and a portion of proceeds is donated with every purchase. Atiliay’s goal is to make a lasting and meaningful impact through creativity and compassion.

Personally, I got to know Olivia, founder and creator of Atiliay, through Instagram, and we've been connecting online ever since. When I started this project, I had in mind that I would also be featuring international artists, so naturally I thought of Olivia. She is truly an amazing human being, and I am very honored to have had this chance to learn more about her, and share it with you!

*Fun fact: Olivia's parents are from Taiwan! Where I'm from!

Atiliay是一個原創紙品品牌,特色是以手寫字體為主的設計師原創卡片。Atiliay希望透過每張賣出的卡片,幫卡片的主人傳愛給身邊的人,同時送愛到全世界。每一張卡片的販售,都直接與Atiliay支持的其中一所公益組織串聯,卡片的部分收入會直接成為該組織的募捐款項。Atiliay的願景,是透過創意與熱情,做有意義的付出。

寶拉個人一開始是透過Instagram認識Olivia的,當時Atiliay還沒有正式上線,但我們不斷透過Instagram交流、支持、鼓勵對方,而當我開始Simply Creative並希望能訪談國外的創意人時,第一個想到的自然就是Olivia。

Olivia是一個很有毅力,善良又堅強的靈魂,我真的很高興可以請到她來跟我們分享她創業的經驗,同時透過這個訪談也對她有了更多的認識(更多的敬佩):

*當我發現Olivia的爸媽是台灣人的時候,真心覺得也太有緣!


Hi Olivia! Thank you for doing this interview. For those of us meeting you for the first time, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into what you do.

Olivia: Hi Deborah! Thank you for interviewing me:) My name is Olivia and I have a paper goods line specializing in hand lettered greeting cards for a cause called Atiliay. Throughout my life I have always loved anything having to do with arts, crafts, drawing, and writing and that love has led me on my creative journey! I majored in fashion design in college, completed a baking/pastry program and made custom cakes a few years later, had a little girl’s clothing line with my friend, and all of that has brought me to where I am now--creating hand lettered paper goods where I donate a portion of proceeds to non-profit organizations.

While I was working in the corporate fashion world, I realized that the cubicle work life wasn’t what I wanted and felt a lack of purpose in what I was doing. During that time, I was lucky to get the opportunity to go to South Africa with TOMS on a shoe drop. That is where I met Food4Africa, a non-profit with the mission of providing babies and toddlers with nutritious food so they can have a good start in life. I got to meet the little ones they fed and the schools they assisted and I knew I wanted to continue to support the important work they do. That was in 2007 and I am happy to say that since then, through different creative endeavors, I have been able to help them raise meals for the children they serve!

My hope is that my products help my customers send love to the special people in their lives as well as those in need around the world—send love and spread love. Each item is paired with one of the 4 non-profits Atiliay supports (The EEC Preschool + Nursery sponsored through Food4Africa, Kiva, Animal Place, and Chilis On Wheels) and a portion of proceeds is donated with every purchase. My goal with Atiliay is to make a lasting and meaningful impact through creativity and compassion.

嗨Olivia!謝謝您接受這次的訪談。對於第一次認識Olivia跟Atiliay的朋友們,可以告訴我們一些關於您的個人背景及您如何開始Atiliay的嗎?

Olivia:嗨Deborah!謝謝妳的邀請!我是Olivia,目前經營Atiliay這個品牌,設計並販售一系列的原創紙品,並且將部分收入捐獻給公益組織。

我從小就對藝術、手作、畫畫,及書寫等等非常情有獨鍾,而這樣的喜愛奠定了我從事創意事業的基礎。

我大學的時候主修服裝設計,同時完成了一個烘培學程,並在接單客製蛋糕的幾年後,跟朋友一起經營過女童裝,而我所做過的一切,最終引領我從事現在的工作-以手寫字體為主,設計一線原創紙品,並將部分收入捐贈給公益組織。

當年我還在朝九晚五的設計公司工作時,我發現那種辦公室生活不是我想要的,總覺得我做的事情沒什麼意義。直到有一天,我有幸在2007年參加了一次TOMS的「送鞋到南非」之旅(shoe drop),成為我認識Food4Africa的契機。

Food4Africa是一個公益組織,他們提供在南非的孩童們營養食品,幫助他們有一個營養的童年。那趟送鞋之旅我親自拜訪了那些學校及孩童,我立刻知道我想繼續支持他們的行動。從此以後,我便不斷用我自己的方式為他們募款。

我最大的願景是讓我的客人們在送愛給親朋好友的同時,能夠將這份愛分享給全世界。

Atiliay的收入目前支持四個不同的公益組織-The EEC Preschool+Food4Africa、KivaAnimal Place,及Chilis On Wheels。Atiliay旗下所有的紙品都直接與其中一個公益組織串聯,而我對Atiliay最大的期望就是能持續透過創意與熱情,做有意義的付出。

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How was Atiliay established? How did it grow as a business?

Olivia: Atiliay actually started out as a fundraiser and not a business! I was trying to think of a way to get people involved in supporting a preschool I started sponsoring in South Africa through Food4Africa, The Ebongalethu Educare Center. I thought if I could create something that people were going to buy anyway plus it gave back, it would be the perfect combo! It was late December so I decided to create Valentine’s Day grams for people to send to their loved ones. I sold handmade hand stamped cards for $5 with 100% going to provide meals for the preschool. I’d handwrite each customer’s message inside the card and send it directly to their recipient for them. I emailed and told everyone I knew and was also able to have my fundraiser published in an email newsletter that at the time had many subscribers. During that time I was freelancing in fashion and would come home and stamp cards, write messages, and address envelopes! I was able to raise enough funds for over a year’s worth of meals for the 60 children at the preschool. I loved doing the fundraiser and after it ended thought, what if I could do this for a living and continue to help the school as well as other non-profits? And that’s how Atiliay was born!

 

您是如何創立Atiliay的呢?Atiliay又是如何發展成現在的規模?

Olivia:Atiliay一開始是一個募資計畫,而不是我的個人事業。剛開始我單純想透過募捐的方式,資助一所我透過Food4Africa贊助的學齡前教育機構-The Ebongalethu Educare Center

當時我心裡想的是,如果我可以設計一些大家反正本來就會買的東西,加上有回饋意義的話,那就太棒了!那時候正好快要情人節,所以我決定設計並販售用手刻章手印的情人節卡片,並替大家在卡片裡手寫他們想對收信人說的話。每張美金五元,且收入將100%捐至The Ebongalethu Educare Center。

我寫了一封email給所有我認識的人,並且透過一些幫助,將這個活動訊息夾帶在一封已經有穩定讀者群的訂閱信件。活動發出之後,我每天做完案子回家就在蓋卡片、寫字。透過這個活動,我居然成功募集足夠這所學校為孩子們供餐一整年的金額!活動結束之後,我便開始想著,如果我可以把這個概念發展成事業,同時透過這個事業能夠繼續支持那些學校的話,那該有多好?於是Atiliay就這麼誕生了!

Your hand lettering is always elegant and neat. How did you develop your style?

Olivia: Thank you so much, that is so kind of you to say! Practicing as much as I can and seeing all the different styles out there really helped me learn what I like and develop my own style. I would—and still do--practice one word over and over again and try different ways of writing the letters or putting the word together until I liked how it looked! It’s interesting to look back at older pieces and see where I am now. (I highly suggest keeping your lettering projects in a box then look through it from time to time!) I feel like I have laid down the ground work for my style but am still developing it and that it will continue to evolve as I learn and get inspired by news things!

您的手寫字體總是看起來乾淨、優雅。可以告訴我們您是如何發展出自己的風格的嗎?

Olivia:謝謝妳的讚美!我觀察了很多種不一樣的手寫字體風,透過不斷練習,最後慢慢法展出自己的風格。我到現在還是會練習以不同的方式去寫同一個字,或者把要寫的字排列在一起,直到我覺得看起來順眼為止。

回頭看自己的作品是一件很有趣的事情,我誠心建議大家把自己的字收集起來,沒事回頭看看他們。我覺得我現在有一個穩定的風格了,但我還是持續在做不同的嘗試,透過不斷的學期與啟發,我的字體也不斷地在改變、發展。

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What has been a challenge that you’ve faced as you were establishing Atiliay, and how have you overcome that?

Olivia: Since Atiliay started as a fundraiser, there were a lot of things I had to figure out throughout the years to make sure it was sustainable as a business and I am still learning as I go. I started out hand carving stamps and stamping all cards individually but soon realized this was not feasible and I could not mass produce this way! That is actually how I started lettering—lettering felt like it was the perfect way to combine my love for drawing with my love for words. I also had to figure out pricing and how I could scale Atiliay so I could offer wholesale to retailers. It’s taken about 3-4 years for me to iron out all the details and now I feel like I can take Atiliay from hobby/side business to a full-time job. I’m not quite there yet but I will continue to work hard to make it happen!

I would say the other big challenge is how to get your work in front of potential customers!

To overcome the things I mentioned above, I did a ton of research and tried to learn as much as I could—there are so many resources these days that are at our fingertips! I looked up articles to try to find answers to the questions I had, joined online groups for makers, followed blogs that give advice to creative businesses, etc. I think part of being an entrepreneur is having that drive to solve your problems and not get deterred by them. Sometimes it’s hard—I would definitely define myself as an artist and creator first and then an entrepreneur by default because we need money to survive in this world! Having a small business and trying to grow it is not easy—there will be good days and there will be bad ones but I think it’s important to remember to not give up! You will get there if you keep going.

I also wanted to mention that Etsy REALLY helped me get my work out there! Customers, shops, and bloggers have found my work through Etsy and one of my cards was included in a Huff Post article which was super exciting! As long as you do your part (have good photos and clear listings, optimize your listing for their search, etc.) they do help put your product in front of hundreds of people. I also really love Instagram as another platform to share my work.

您在創意Atiliay的時候,最困難的是什麼呢?您又是如何克服的?

Olivia:Atiliay從募資帳號一直到現在,一路上我必須做很多功課,確定這個計畫發展成事業之後可以永續經營,而我依然在學習中。剛開始我都是自己刻章,再一張張的蓋卡片,但我很快地就發現這個做法不太聰明,因為無法進行大批生產。

這成為我開始練習手寫字體最大的原因,因為這麼做的話,就完美結合了我對繪畫及文字的喜愛。除此之外,我還得搞清楚怎麼樣為這些產品定價,以及我必須發展到什麼樣的規模,才能跟實體通路(書店、文具店等)談商品批發。我大概花了三、四年的時間才進入狀況,而我現在終於把Atiliay從副業轉正,成為我全職的工作了。當然,我要學習的還很多,路途還很遙遠!而我覺得最大的挑戰,大概就是如何能夠將自己呈現在潛在的客戶的面前。

為了克服以上我提到的困難,我不斷的做功課,盡我所能的學習。畢竟現在這個社會,有很多資源其實隨手可得!我經常爬文、參與相關的社團活動、追蹤那些為創意創業者撰寫的部落格等等。

我覺得身為創業者,你必須有那股為解決問題在所不惜的精神,並不要輕易感到挫折。這很難,我一直認為自己是藝術家、創作者,但雖然錢不是萬能,還是沒錢萬萬不能,因此還是必須創業。

擁有個人事業並且試圖發展這個事業並不容易,總是會有好天跟壞天,但對我來說,最重要的是不能放棄,只要你不停嘗試,總有一天你會成功!

在這裡我特別想說的是,Etsy[註1]真的對我的發展有很~大的幫助,很多客人、店家及部落客都是透過Etsy找到我的。當我設計的其中一款卡片被刊登在Huff Post裡的時候,我真的超興奮!

只要你做好自己分內的事情(包括控管照片的品質、明確的產品項目、最佳化你的搜尋引擎條件等)你的東西一定有機會被看見。我同時也是Instagram的愛用者,我常常在IG上面分享我在做的事情。

[註1]Etsy是類似Pinkoi的原創商品平台,也有人說Pinkoi是亞洲版的Etsy

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How did you reach out to retailers or how did they reach you? Can you share with us some of your experience?

Olivia: One of my main goals for this year was to really focus on the wholesale side of my business. At the end of last year I concentrated on creating a cohesive product line and line sheet that I could send out to potential retailers. When I first started Atiliay--even when I wasn’t ready to wholesale—I started a spreadsheet of any/every store I thought could be a possible fit. At the beginning of the year, I went through all the shops I had collected, researched more to see if my cards/aesthetic would be a good fit, and started to contact ones I thought could possibly carry my line. I typically reach out via email and have also sent small packages with card samples.

I’ve had shops respond with orders, that they weren’t ordering or wasn’t a good fit, and I’ve also had no responses at all. I’ve learned from each of those interactions and I think it’s important to not get discouraged or give up and keep going!

Retailers have found me through Etsy, Etsy Wholesale, and Instagram.

There are many resources online—even articles and posts written by buyers—that provide very useful information on how to reach out, when to reach out, etc. Keep an eye out, browse articles on Etsy, and continually do internet searches on the topic.

您是如何接觸到零售店家的呢?還是他們主動來跟您接觸的?可以跟我們分享一些經驗嗎?

Olivia:今年我最大的目標之一就是專心發展卡片批發的部分。我是大約去年底開始設計一系列風格較集中的卡片,並整理了一份可以寄發給實體通路的完整產品清單。

Atiliay草創初期,儘管我還沒有準備好進行批發,我就已經開始蒐集可能有機會合作的店家資訊了。今年初我過濾了一下這份清單,在深入瞭解了一下我設計的卡片,及卡片的風格跟這些店家合不合之後,慢慢地開始跟他們聯絡、洽談。通常我都是透過email跟店家溝通,當然我也會寄送一些樣本給他們參考。

有些店家參考過後會跟我聯絡下單,有些會說覺得我的風格跟他們不太合,也有店家完全沒有回應的。每一次的互動都是我學習的機會,最重要的還是不要輕易覺得挫折,提醒自己不要放棄。

其他有些店家是透過Esty、Esty Wholesale,及Instagram找到我的。

網路上的資源真的很多,甚至有店家(買家)親自寫的文章可以參考,有些文章會直接告訴你可以如何接觸到這些店家、什麼時候適合跟他們接觸等等。

眼睛放亮一點,多讀一些Etsy上面的文章,並且持續的做功課。

 

If you could give one piece of advice to the ones who are starting out on a creative business, what would it be?

Olivia: Jump in, do your best, keep creating as much as possible, don’t compare yourself with others, learn and research as much as possible, share your knowledge with others, don’t be too hard on yourself, and keep going! You can do this!

I also wanted to share one of my favorite quotes that I refer back to often about creativity from the inspiring Ira Glass (watch the video HERE).

如果可以的話,您會給跟您一樣希望從事創意創業的初學者什麼樣的建議呢?

Olivia:做吧!盡你所能的創作、嘗試,不要硬跟別人比較;努力的學習、做功課,跟大家分享你的所學,不要對自己太苛刻,然後不要放棄!你可以的!

我想跟大家分享一個我覺得很棒的影片,我到現在還是常常拿出來看,這個影片是關於創意的(點我看影片)。

Images provided by Olivia of Atiliay

 

Notes

I've always admired Olivia and her beautiful works, and I adore her more than ever, after learning so much about her through this interview. She is such a beautiful soul, and I really hope that one day, we'll get to see each other in person, either in Taiwan or sunny California:)

I hoped you enjoyed learning about Olivia and her business as much as I did putting together this post for you! You can find more of Olivia's work her on her Instagram, Etsy, or her Website.

*I hand-lettered a quote which Olivia reminded me of, as a token of gratitude: "What's done in love is done well."

後記

我一直很喜歡Olivia的卡片(還有她照片裡,她朋友的兔子常常當她的模特)但透過這次訪談,我彷彿重新認識了Olivia,並真心打從心底再次敬佩她堅持不懈的精神。

希望你也因Olivia的經驗及精神受到啟發或鼓舞,也許國外的創業風氣真的比較強,但是不代表你做不到。寶拉也正在努力,看了Olivia的故事更是覺得自己要加油!

如慣例,寶拉以題字的方式感謝Olivia接受這次的訪談:

「以愛為前提所做的一切總是好的」

 Lettering by Deborah of   Letter with Simplicity

Lettering by Deborah of Letter with Simplicity