NAME Ashley Gardner
LOCATION Houston, Texas
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND In my fourth year of medical school
COMPANY Printable Wisdom
Tell me a little bit about your Etsy shop, Printable Wisdom & how you first got started designing digital printables. In my shop, I sell artwork (mostly of quotes and Bible verses, but with some original paintings and lots of hand drawn calligraphy!), stationery, wedding invite suites, cards, and more. The main draw for my business is the fact that all of my items are available as digital files so they are affordable and fast! I first got started by designing a friend’s wedding shower invites while I was in my first year of medical school. I thought – I could do this AND make money from it! How awesome is that, to be paid for something you love doing?
Where do you find your inspiration? Has it changed at all since launching your shop? I initially found inspiration in clipart and digital paper designs I would buy. This has changed a lot. I try to focus my work more on the words and typography now. So I find inspiration through quotes or verses that are really beautiful and then I try to make a design to measure up to the words!
How would you label your design aesthetic? My tagline is “boutique design with a handcrafted flair!” – I love florals, classic calligraphy, hand lettered design, and watercolor swashes.
In the two years your shop has been live on Etsy, it has amassed nearly 800 items. That is seriously impressive! Tell me a bit about what goes into designing a new item & how often you create new designs. I don’t create new designs as much as I’d like to! You’d be horrified at my “To Add” folder on my computer – full of gorgeous designs that I just haven’t found the time to list yet… it’s embarrassing! I usually design in batches. I’ll get a custom order that sparks a creative idea, and just run with it, creating a string of maybe 10 designs. It’s more natural for me to design wall art, much more so than wedding stationery. I really have to plan those sets out so that they don’t end up looking like a hot mess!
In addition to digital printables, you are now offering professional printing services. What prompted you to include this service? What was the process like finding your printer and then selecting the appropriate inks & papers? I had so many customers that wanted my designs and BEGGED me to mail them to them! I finally reached a point in the growth of my business that this was the next logical step. I added this service around the time I started really getting into wedding stationery. So many brides just aren’t up to the task of printing all of their invites themselves – which I totally get! I was lucky to have a printing company reach out to me and offer some samples so that just was a happy accident that has ended up being such a great experience!
How has being in medical school affected your business? If you could share one piece of advice with small shop owners who are working or in school full-time, what would it be? Whoo! This is a good question. Right now as I’m typing this answer, I just got home from a 9 hour shift in the psychiatric ER and have about 3-4 hours of Printable Wisdom work ahead of me. So excuse any typos! It’s really tough when my schedule picks up or when I have to wait until the evening to answer customer questions. My advice is to have a game plan for when you just CANNOT keep up – know how you’ll respond to customers and know what you’ll do to either shut down shop for awhile or slow down business (raising prices is a great way to do this and not decrease income!)
Do you have any of your designs on display in your own home? Oh, way too many! I have a gallery wall in my office right now with a ton of my designs and my bulletin board is home to a lot of original calligraphy or watercolor pieces I just couldn’t part with once they were scanned in!
Guilty pleasure? Law and Order SVU – my husband is in law school and this makes his eyes roll so much I think they’ll pop out of his head!
Favorite animated movie? Frozen – I’m obsessed.
Cake or pie? Pie! Houston has this AWESOME restaurant called “House of Pies” yes, it’s what it sounds like!
Song you can’t help but dance to? Wagon Wheel (the old version) by Old Crow Medicine Show! We love two-stepping : )
Go-to recipe? Texas King Ranch Chicken (and Banana Pudding to go with it!)