004: Testing Your Product and Welcoming Feedback with Anna V. of Paper Anniversary

We all hear stories about the overnight business success, but what does it really take to find that kind of success?  Today’s guest Anna V. from Paper Anniversary gives us the inside scoop on how her business selling paper anniversary gifts found “overnight success,” and her words of wisdom to help you do the same!

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In this episode, she'll be sharing:

  • How she kept her passion of creating paper jewelry up on the side as a hobby as a way to relax her mind outside of work and how after a combination of luck and preparation she was able to turn her hobby into a full-time business.
  • How the success of her business allowed her to dream about where she wanted to live, and actually freely make the move from Canada to California.
  • Why she advises others to put something out before you’re established, and her take on why it’s important as a business owner to be open to change, uncertainty and open to listening to what our customers want, not just what we want.

Anna's advice for big dreamers:

  • Listen for hints of opportunity. If she hadn’t made the connection that men were looking for paper gifts to celebrate their one-year anniversary and that this was an business opportunity for her paper jewelry she would have never been able to quit her job and make her passion her full time work.
  • It’s important to test. In the beginning she thought she would just test the paper anniversary angle to see if anyone would like it. To do so quickly she set up a Shopify page over the weekend.
  • Make your customers feel something and do something your competitors aren’t doing. Anna was inspired by the experience that she had with Zappos when she received an email saying she was upgraded to overnight shipping and woke up to her package on her doorstep the next morning. That experience made her feel special (and she even went on to tell all of her friends and family about the company) which is why she tries to create the same experience for her customers.
  • Be open to pivoting. As a business owner she doesn’t know how long the success of her company will last so says it’s important to be open about things changing. For her this is why it’s important to always be listening to the feedback from your customers and be open to what they want.
  • Remember, you not only have to find the right thing to sell, but also the right market to sell it at. In the beginning, Anna noticed she wouldn’t sell anything at one market, but then sell a ton at others. Anna encourages others not only to test what you are selling, but how you are selling it and where you are selling it. It’s important to remember you’re not making something for everyone, you’re making something for a very specific audience, so figure out who that audience is, where they buy and what attracts them to buying your product.

Links and Resources Mentioned:


  • Anna V

    Thanks for having us on The Big Leap Show ! :-)

    • Kathlyn Hart

      Of course Anna! Thanks so much for sharing your story :)

  • Emily

    I loved Anna’s insight on how we are taught to take feedback in a traditional work place personally, and how entrepreneurs can’t succeed if they take feedback personally. I also love her advice on pitching bloggers or any other partners multiple times. As a freelancer I am finally taking that to heart and it’s actually helped me be less sensitive to rejection to feel like I’m just not the right person at the right time, but if I try again later it might stick.

    • Kathlyn Hart

      Absolutely! It’s such a hard shift to make right? If we want to make it, we have to learn not to take rejection so personally and to just take it as feedback. Thanks for your thoughts Emily. Excited to see what happens in your business this coming year :)

    • Anna V.

      Hi Emily, I’m glad that resonated with you. I noticed after a getting some “no’s” from bloggers or stores, I noticed I had stopped reaching out to them. I remember hearing in another podcast how the woman pitched 8 times to the Today Show, and finally got on! It’s a constant struggle for me to be told ‘no’ but not let it slow you down. Have you heard of 100 Days of Rejection (http://fearbuster.com/100-days-of-rejection-therapy/)? A photographer told me she tried this. Basically for 100 days, you WANT to get one rejection per day. She kept track of each rejection in a spreadsheet. I love this concept!

  • Oliver O.

    Great Podcast, gives me so much hope and motivation to start my own e-commerce venture. I second the use of Shopify for anyone trying to start their own online business because of its ease of use and many resources. I also wanted to say great questions and I love your logo!

    • Kathlyn Hart

      Thanks so much Oliver, I can’t wait to see your shop! If I know anything about you, I know it’s going to be on fleek :)

    • Anna V.

      Hey Oliver, Yes to Shopify! They have a fantastic blog, and SO many apps & add-ons as your business grows. (I don’t make any money to endorse them, haha). I’m curious to hear about your e-commerce idea! Feel free to reach out to me- would love to hear from you.

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