Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ashley Jankowski, Founder of The Type Set Co., located in Atlanta, GA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The Type Set Co. isn't something that can be categorized into one box or another. We've re-imagined a classic by modernizing magnetic alphabet letters for updated aesthetics, meaning we can fall under home decor, education tools, toys, and more. Our upgraded products make the perfect addition to any home, office, dorm room, and classroom – no matter the person's style. We have created something that adults and children both love to use, whether they're teaching a child to spell or need a little inspiration with a fun quote by their desk. The Type Set Co. has taken something once reserved for kids and made it into something for anyone – whether you're six, 16, 36, or 60!
Tell us about yourself
When our son, Opie, was little, we had a basic, old-school magnetic letter set on our fridge for him to use for learning and play. As he got older and outgrew them, we noticed that our adult friends and guests played with them even more than kids did! They were constantly tinkering with the multi-color mess – arranging them into funny, and sometimes inappropriate, words and phrases that they could spell even with the limited letter options. The things they would come up with made us laugh on a daily basis as we walked past our fridge.
While I loved the creativity of the messages, they came up with. I often wished I could give the letters a little bit of a makeover. I thought it would be fun to change out the colors as the seasons changed or to make the design a little more sophisticated so that it tied in with my home decor. Then, one day it occurred to me that other people might feel the same way as I was. So after several mock-ups and trial letters with different kinds of materials, The Type Set Co. was born. Now we bring a wide variety of modern magnetic letters for adults and children to homes worldwide!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Starting a business in and of itself is an accomplishment. However, it was an amazing feeling when I made the leap and started working at The Type Set Co. full-time. We had grown exponentially, and I knew I couldn't do this as a side hustle anymore but that it was time to make this my all-day, everyday job. To know I could do that was also such an accomplishment.
Another big accomplishment for us was when we began working with larger retailers like The Container Store and Barnes & Noble. That moment just reaffirmed everything that we had built and worked toward. Finally, these major retailers saw our products and knew they had to get them in front of their customers. It was such an amazing feeling knowing that our products would be seen by people all over the country. As a physical product company, you can't ask for anything better.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
The hardest and, at the same time, the most exciting is adventuring into the unknown. No matter how great your business or product is, there is always a bit of uncertainty because nothing is guaranteed. All you can do is continue to create and innovate and provide your customers with what they're looking for – which can be a whole other challenge. Persevering when things get tough can be difficult, but more often than not, it's worth it in the end. Lean on the support systems you have and just keep going.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
First and foremost, I'd say, "don't rush things – take your time and enjoy the ride." If you're serious about starting your own business, take the time to start it right and try not to overwork yourself. Rushing into something and trying to move at lightning speed isn't setting you up for success or longevity.
Do your research. If this is your first time starting a business, ensure you're researching everything you need to know about your product and/or industry. For example, if you're manufacturing a product, you need to decide if there are any non-negotiables about how, where, and with what materials your product is made. Reach out to people who have done something similar and get their advice if they're willing to give it. Prepare yourself as much as possible to build and grow your business sustainably.
Be sure you love it and are willing to be in it for the long haul. Many people can attest that doing work or a job you don't love tends to suck the joy out of life. Starting a business is a lot of work. It's late nights, early mornings, and long days. Be prepared for setbacks, but don't let them discourage you. Always be problem-solving – after all, that can be one of the most fun parts of being an entrepreneur. I promise all the struggles will be worth it in the end.
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.
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