Q. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.

A. Viola Grace Shop was established in 2019 after experiencing frustration with low-quality and generic wrapping paper found in traditional retail stores. Our family has been in the printing business since 1979 so we decided to design and print our own designs. After experimenting with designs, we found some that stuck with our initial audience and now we have a growing catalog of designs fit for almost every occasion. Through our research, we also found that most presents can be wrapped with 1-3 sheets of wrapping paper. Again, this was perfect for us because our customers didn’t need to buy more than what they could use—All they had to do was buy it, use it for the specific event, party or gift and they didn’t have to worry about storing it afterwards.

Q. Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).

A. After dropping out of college I needed something that challenged me and scratched my creative itch. I dabbled in different things from time to time. Before starting Viola Grace Shop I started a personalized banner company for birthdays, a clothing line and an online consignment store but none of them really seemed to hold my interest or bring enough challenge. When we landed on wrapping paper we found that it was a niche enough product and space that it could be difficult to break into and provided enough challenge (and success) that we have kept on going.

Q. What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?

A. I needed a challenge and we came across the idea of wrapping paper and realized that it was a great product and very easy for us on the manufacturing side of things (we’ve run a printing business for over 40 years now). Plus, we loved this model because we didn’t have to carry an inventory like a traditional wrapping paper brand. This allows us to be dynamic and fast-moving. Plus, we figured that if we can successfully sell wrapping paper on an e-commerce platform we could branch out into other segments as well.

Q. What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

A. Don’t do everything yourself, but be careful in what you’re willing to outsource. For example, we recently had an opportunity to sign a large licensing deal to begin using trademarked characters and brands in our designs. Everything looked awesome. We had a consultant lined up, a whole plan and eyes filled with stars, but as we dove into the numbers and our year-long plan, it didn’t line up. Had we decided to continue to outsource this project we would have lost thousands of dollars that distracted us from our strategy.

Q. What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

A. Tenacity, Creativity and Sacrifice

Q. How many hours do you work a day on average?

A. While we are in the midst of new product development, marketing campaigns and other things of that nature I work anywhere from 9-15 hours a day. But it doesn’t feel like work because I enjoy what I do. In-between campaigns when things are running smoothly, I have been able to develop things to run on autopilot, so I only work 1-2 hours a day. You definitely experience both sides of the spectrum.

Q. To what do you most attribute your success?

A. Rubbing shoulders with experts. Early on I was able to realize that I wasn’t going to be able to be the best at everything to make Viola Grace Shop Grow. But what I did know was how to vet people. This helped me determine who to hang out with, form partnerships with and hire. By being able to know how to build a team and vet people we have been able to put together a team that we can rely on.

Q. How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

A. We’ve stuck to the traditional methods of marketing, you know, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok (still not sold on it… convince me), Pinterest, etc. But we also deploy methods like direct-mail campaigns to win-back inactive customers and announce new offerings. We’ve used a system called String POS, which links to your Store so mobile users can have an ‘in-app’ experience. We also like to work with Micro-influencers that love to through parties for their kids.

Q. Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?

A. Everything we have done has been self-funded. Growing up we were taught to build things without external funding. We may seek some capital investments in the future but haven’t needed investors up to this point.

Q. What is the best way to achieve long-term success?

A. Consistency. You have to continue to show-up day after day.

Q. Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?

A. I see us as a house-hold name for wrapping paper like Hallmark is. I see us taking a large portion of the market that we are able to form partnerships with some of the biggest distributors in the United States

Q. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

A. CrossNet—The team over there is willing to share their experiences, contacts and their entire journey.

Q. How important have good employees been to your success?

A. We don’t have any employees. Right now we only rely on contractors—We go back to the same people every time and pay them by the project. Right now, we don’t have a need for a full-time or even a part-time employee (Plus, we don’t want to worry with taxes and insurance)

Q. How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

A. Probably longer than I should. When I make decisions to move forward with an idea I have to be 100% committed to it and sometimes that makes it hard to walk away if you’ve made the wrong decision

Q. What motivates you?

A. My family and self-development. I do everything to take care of my family and to make sure their needs are met. I am also motivated by challenges and trying to figure out something new. Just the other day I was working on the Viola Grace Shop website and had some code that needed to be adjusted and I’m not a programmer. It was fun and motivating because I had to solve a problem and learn how to code a bit.

Q. What are your ideals?

Q. How do you generate new ideas?

A. We watch our customer base a ton and pay attention to pop-culture. The great thing about wrapping paper is that you don’t have to necessarily come up with new ideas, you just have to pay attention to what’s going on. Because everything we do is digital, if we see something trending like a certain party theme, we can create a design that fits that them and have it launched and released to our customer base within hours.

Q. How do you define success?

A. Every time we hear “my son/daughter/granddaughter/grandson is going to love this, thank you so much” or “I’ve been looking for something like this and you’re the only place I could find it, thanks for what you do” we feel like we have been successful.

A. We also define success as sales, more sales = more success

Q. What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

A. Our very first sale. It showed me that we have something that we can sell and that people want.

Q. How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

A. It’s provided us with a lot of freedom because we can work from anywhere. It has also given us an opportunity to teach our kids how to run a business, which is something I had growing up and I believe is super important.

Q. What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)

A. Lots of books inspire me. Right now I’m reading The Power of One More by Ed Mylett. Other Authors I love are James Clear, Malcolm Gladwell

Q. What makes you happy?

A. Spending time with my family