There are many ways to communicate our love and appreciation to others. One of which is through sending them greeting cards. We strive to achieve deeper connections despite the world becoming increasingly digital. Greeting cards can reach spaces we can’t physically go to while giving an extra human and personal touch.
In this episode, we talk to Kate Smith, the owner of the Kate Smith Company. She shares how she broke into the greeting cards industry, which led to her running a business with her husband. Kate is on a mission to make other people happy. She also recalls how they managed their business while constantly traveling around in their RV.
Listen to the episode if you want to know how to combine your creative pursuits into an RV lifestyle.
3 Reasons to Listen
- Learn how Kate got into greeting cards and started the Kate Smith Company
- Discover why and how Kate transitioned into the RV lifestyle
- Reflect on the importance of bringing joy to others in any way we can
- The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Tim Ferris
- Join Kate’s Making Humans Smile Club
- 1960 Film Pollyanna
- Use the magical puffy face to make others smile
Kate Smith finds the good, the funny, and the happy in everything. With this mission, she and her husband Ryan run the Kate Smith Company, an art licensing business focusing on greeting cards. Kate wants to help people see the simple joys all around them through the art she makes on greeting cards, stationery, and gift products.
[06:18] How Kate Got into Greeting Cards
- Kate used to work in advertising and treated her boss’s encouragement as permission to pursue her business idea.
- She started writing greeting cards on folded pieces of paper and persevered even if things didn’t look good initially.
- Kate launched a collection of 50 cards at the National Stationery Show in New York. Target and Recycled Paper Greens discovered her work.
- A year later, Target featured her collection.
- Kate was very artistic as a kid and joined coloring contests when she was young. She came from an artist family, and her mom supported her.
[11:47] The Greeting Cards Industry
- There's a decline in the industry, but millennials are bringing it back by sending cards.
- Kate observed how COVID was an incredible moment for greeting cards because cards could reach places humans could not.
- There's always relevance for communication and words. As long as language remains vital in the world, greeting cards will still have a place in it.
- There are more human ways to communicate that you don't get through digital. Digital enables us to stay in touch with family and loved ones, but it leaves you wanting.
[12:36] “COVID actually was a wonderful moment for greeting cards. Greeting cards could get into hospitals, greeting cards could get into nursing homes, greeting cards could get into places that humans could not get into.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[19:53] Kate’s Work Flow in the RV
- Kate prefers to stay a little longer in the places they visit, enabling her to get a better vibe of the community.
- She thinks it's a bit tough because the RV functions as many rooms depending on the occasion, and it’s hard to separate them.
- Kate found many benefits from memberships in co-working spaces or going to coffee shops and RV clubhouses. They help her focus and separate where she works from where she lives.
- She maintains a lean workflow that’s primarily digital with an iPad Pro, a little printer, and a few art supplies.
- Kate gets a lot of inspiration from moving around by observing people and applying them to her art.
[22:58] “From all of this moving around and place changes, I actually get a lot of inspiration from it. People are what I take most of my inspiration from.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[26:17] How Kate Spends Her Time and Defines Success
[30:48] “Be protective of how much you put on your plate and what you put on your plate, because [you] have to leave space for the possibilities. Otherwise, I think the magic of what people have come to you for in the beginning goes away.” - Click Here To Tweet This
- Ryan, Kate’s husband, handles the non-creative and administration side of their business, allowing her to focus on creating their products.
- Kate spends 45% of her time ideating. The remaining time goes to execution and making the greeting cards.
- When she feels burnout, Kate notes that the ideation phase energizes her. She allows herself a little space to try some of her ideas and just mess things up.
- Kate sometimes worries if she’s supposed to do business a certain way. Growth is good for small businesses, but you should ask if you need it or if it’s making you happy.
- Her business doesn’t operate like others. She learned to not think of how it should be and just do things and see where it goes.
[33:52] “When you have a small business, you're conditioned to think that you just grow. You just grow and growth is always good. And, I don't think it always is. I think that you need to look at what's gonna make you happy and why.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[39:32] The Beginnings of Kate’s RV life
- Years ago, Kate realized she was already living the successful life many imagine but still felt something was missing.
- Ryan was also experiencing stress from not enjoying his job anymore.
- Kate thought of incorporating travel into their lives.
- From there, it took them two years to transition into RV life. They slowly sold most of their belongings.
- During the first year of RV life, Kate was very anxious. She realized she strictly needed to budget since she was used to money coming in seasonally as a freelancer.
[50:14] Difficulties in the RV World
- Kate faced difficulties dealing with the lack of community and leaving the people they bonded with when moving places.
- They come home occasionally to connect with family and long-time friends.
- They always make sure to come out and interact with the people in the places they go to. They also meet like-minded people who share the same lifestyle. Co-working with others also helps.
[55:12] Making Humans Smile Club
- Kate created the Making Humans Smile Club, a group of like-minded friends who want to spread good to the world. It’s a community of people who want to do little things daily for someone else.
- The Making Humans Smile Club is Kate’s way of building a ripple effect of joy and good vibes.
- Her mission is not about promoting positivity all the time. She believes that sadness, pain, and hardships exist in this world. Because of them, we need joy and should share it with others.
- Bring joy to others by making a puffy face and make sure they send their puffy face back to you too.
- If you have a business or are doing something you’re unsure of, just do it anyway. Action helps quiet down fear and anxiety. Bet on yourself always, most especially on the big and scary things.
[57:08] “I'm also the first person to say that that's exactly why we need joy, and a continual stream of it is because of the existence of pain of sadness, of challenge and hardship.” - Click Here To Tweet This
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