Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on an interview with Aixa Smith, Founder of Sweet Bean Plans, located in Palmetto, FL, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I run Sweet Bean Plans, a stationery and planner sticker online store specializing in hand-drawn art. Most of my products are inspired by my favorite things: my dogs, books, and coffee! My customers tend to be planners, whether it's decorative, functional, or journaling and scrapbooking. We get a ton of people from the bookish community since I am an avid reader and can't help but turn any theme into a reading theme.
Tell us about yourself
I graduated from Ringling College with a degree in illustration and knew I wanted to make a living doing something artistic. I started making simple illustrations for stickers back in 2013. When I started drawing our character, Bean (based on my dog), the shop started growing faster! You can now find Bean doing just about anything, from swimming to traveling to eating junk food.
My biggest motivation is creating art that people love and connecting with others through it. I've met so many friends through the planner community and going to events. I have customers and other shop owners that have become my best friends. I feel so much happiness and fulfillment when I get a message from someone who purchased something and they say how much they, their friends, or their kids love it.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was hiring my husband and mom full-time. My husband was miserable in his job working, and it was so hard seeing him struggle to go to work every day. He now works on all of our production and packing orders. My mom has been my biggest supporter. She even bought me my first Silhouette so I could start the shop. Last year, we moved my parents down the street from us, and she takes care of packing our monthly subscription, making glasses and mugs, t-shirts, and any other products we come up with. She's still my biggest cheerleader!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Imposter syndrome is a real thing. Despite any success I see, I often feel like I'm not doing enough, or people might not like what I am making. I try to combat that by being as involved as possible with the community (my Facebook group and IG messages) so that I can get feedback on what my customers want to see and whether I'm moving my designs and products in the right direction.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Make a plan and immediately jump into trial and error. There's only so much research you can do, but learning things as you're doing them is the key to moving forward.
- Focus on what you're doing and on no one else. For years, I played the comparison game, but it was when I stopped focusing on others and started putting all of my focus on my art and products that it exponentially grew. Sometimes it's easier said than done, so I stopped looking at the social media accounts that would make me feel that way.
- Work/create something you're passionate about. During COVID, I started reading like a fiend. I'd go through about 10-20 books a month! Bookish themes started making their way into my art, and now anything that is book or reading-related will outsell anything else in my shop.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Turn your craft into recurring revenue with Subkit. Start your subscription offering in minutes and supercharge it with growth levers. Get early access here.