I first connected with this week’s leaper, Jayde Leeder of Little Paper Lane through Instagram, where her witty way with words, stationery porn, adorable kidlets and hot pink loving, fun feed brings loads of LOLs overtime I scroll through it. Whenever I run an Instagram workshop, I always use Jayde as great example of how authenticity looks and feels, and how it builds tribes. No one tells it like it is, quite the way Jayde does!
Jayde operates Little Paper Lane as a retail store, an online store and bespoke graphic design service, with her husband Steve. While Jayde had worked as a nanny and a make-up artist, her decision to open the store came after Steve, a graphic designer, acquired a brain injury after being assaulted. The leap to open the business has enabled the Leeder’s to take control of their lives and work flexibly with the needs of their young family and Steve’s health. It also is way for Jayde to manage her anxiety disorder – which can be a real challenge in the quieter retail months. And that’s where having a strong real life and online community can be a huge benefit.
You’ll read in Jayde’s story that her courage comes from eye balling fear and facing the challenges that present. Talking things out with suppliers, getting help when she needs it and looking for creative ways to solve problems mean that even when times are tough, there is a way through.
GIVEAWAY! Gorgeous Jayde is giving one reader the chance to win a Little Paper Lane stationery pack. To go into the running, simply leave a comment on below or over on Instagram telling us how deep your stationery appreciation runs.
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
It did change around a lot, but I always always wanted to be an actress/rockstar. I still do.
What did/do you study?
I’ve done heaps of short courses, including an interior design course that I still haven’t finished. I LOVE doing courses. I love learning. I could do a different course every few months if I had the time and money.
I did this amazing travel course at this fancy pants college when I was 20 and I was top of the class getting 98-100% on every single test. It was the last module with about two weeks left until we were able to graduate and, one day, we rocked up to college and the doors were all locked. I called the next day and they had gone bankrupt. They didn’t give us any accreditation for what we had done and we lost all money for the course. So I’m basically a travel agent without the certificate. I studied entertainment as well, and makeup, and completed HSC.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
Funnily enough, when I made the decision to open Little Paper Lane, it felt so right. I didn’t have a lot of fear at the beginning. Starting something like this would usually be a scary step to take, but it was always exciting, and I knew it would be amazing. I’m an excellent starter. I’m not a great finisher but I start strong.
It was more scary once it had all begun. In its second year the excitement had died down a bit and the reality of business kicked in – the constant juggle of keeping it all running and being a parent at the same time. In the quieter months for retail, it can be torture for the mind. I have a lot of mental health issues and with my anxiety disorder I have to be so mindful of the times in the year when it’s naturally quieter. Having a good support network at home with my family and friends as well as my online community, has actually been the best thing that ever happened to my wild brain. There have been days online that have been the worst but the majority of the time, when times have been tough, I tell my online gang what’s going on and people are there to support me in any way they can. Opening up about my own mental health online was scary in the beginning, but it’s only made things so much better.
It was another scary time when when we decided that my husband would take on a full-time role with Little Paper Lane because it meant relying on Little Paper Lane to keep the kids fed. It was the right choice, but it’s been a tough road and it’s still tough. We are building slowly and the fear was so worth him being a part of the business full-time.
What were you doing before you made your leap?
After I travelled and met Steve (my husband) we came home and I worked as a nanny and did makeup part-time. I had Iggy (8 years old) when I was still a nanny and that job was slowly winding down as the four kids I looked after were getting too old for a nanny. When that was finishing up I was going to pursue makeup full-time, but over the summer a light bulb went on and I just knew that my dream to have a little stationery shop could be possible. Iggy was 3 years old at the time and at kindergarten two days a week, and something inside of me just had to make this dream a reality.
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
My Mum for SURE. She is by far the hardest worker I’ve ever known. At the time of opening Little Paper Lane she was doing ironing for a few families, working as an office admin full-time, cake decorating, and doing bookkeeping for a few tradies. I knew I had to have some help in the shop and she offered to do two days a week and I honestly couldn’t run the shop without her. She works her ass off and is always happy and always there for our kids and turned out to be an amazing merchandiser. She is so creative. I’ve grown up with her always having a creative hobby and we always had the best art projects.
Another creative inspiration is my Aunty Kerrie. Both sides of our family have always been and still are very close. My Aunty Kerrie is my mum’s brother’s wife and we grew up seeing them every holiday. Even though Mum and Kerrie are not blood related, they seem like sisters. They are both so similar but my mum’s creativity is very neat and tidy – she colours within the lines. Aunty Kerrie once soaked a pair of jeans in glue, laid them out on a big board, shaped them and let them dry, then painted them and made the most amazing piece of art. I still remember how amazed I was by it. When I was getting married the first person I consulted about decorations was my aunty. When we first opened Little Paper Lane I instantly knew Kerrie had to help with the windows as I had no idea what I was doing.
My nan is another creative inspiration. She still makes so many things even though she is in her 80s. She always made my ballet tutus and made me beautiful dolls and clothes. My childhood is one big happy memory of her and my pop. They took me to my first stationery shop and bought me my first wooden stamp. It basically started my love of stationery and Little Paper Lane, so thanks, Nan and Pop.
My dad inspires me to be cool in whatever I do in life – both wearing ray bans and in the way I conduct myself. Even with my wild brain, I still remain cool on the surface. It’s not something forced, it’s just the way I am, it’s the way he is. Cool and kind. He has shown me that life is meant to be fun. There was always laughter in our house and always parties. Even when I see dad amongst colleagues now, they are always having a laugh and a nice chat. I think from him I have seen that you can be in business and still be a nice person and be happy and generous. Without knowing it, he has taught me to leave my mark on the world.
There are so so many people who influence me, but my family will always be first and foremost the most inspiring. There are so many more relatives that I could talk about but we’ll run out of website space. 😉
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
There was no way I was going to start a business and just open the shop half-assed. It had to be gorgeous and it had to have the right products. It took a good six months of research and ordering to get the shop full with the perfect products. We spent weeks looking for the perfect furniture for the shop and the right operation systems. Product research and buying were the most time consuming. I literally woke up, sat on the computer searching and ordering and then would finish before sleep that night. The new operating system needing every single product entered and there was about 1700 products to begin with. So that took weeks of entering and pricing everything in our house.
Searching for the perfect space was the hardest. Picking the spot and then waiting for real estate and the owner to sort things out took three months. The building was being sold and we had to wait for the new owner to take over. Then the fit out took a couple weeks. My family helped with painting and merchandising and my old boss, who I had nannied for and who owned a gift shop, came down and merchandised an entire wall and it looked STUNNING. It seriously still stays in my mind and when I merchandise now I still refer back to it. So nice.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?
I think one day I realised, because of Steve’s brain injury, that there was no way we would ever own a house, or maybe even go on a holiday, because he needed to rest a lot and could only work part-time. I realised he wouldn’t ever be able to work a job that paid him enough and he was struggling as it was because he needed to take time out to rest his head and you just can’t do that when you work for others.
I decided that I needed to do something big to try and provide for our family and that maybe it was up to me to take control. I felt like I needed to shake things up and do something that I thought would help to create the kind of future we wanted. Something that both of us could be a part of and that gave us a sense of control. As soon as I uttered the words, Steve, being a graphic designer, saw what I wanted to do and agreed with so much enthusiasm. We knew it was the right path for us.
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
As someone with huge anxieties (usually about weird random things like medical issues), when it comes to my business I am very calm and level headed and I actually take leaps with confidence quite naturally. I love my business and I think my passion for it helps with taking any leaps.
It helps that if I want to go ahead with something, I usually research it and consider it for a long time before making a decision, so if there is any fear in the beginning, after all the research and thought that goes into it, I just end up with excitement. And then it makes it so simple to take that step.
I think the fear comes more for me when I am in the thick of things. When things don’t go so smoothly, that’s when I have to take a moment and step back, talk it out with my humans, and find a solution. I used to allow the anxiety to take over when something wasn’t going right and, when I did, there was no courage to be found. That doesn’t help. In those situations you end up with too much fear and you won’t take the next step. The courage to step forward takes you away from the fear you have. If you stay within that fear, that’s where you will remain. If you love your business, you will do it with passion. The minute it gets scary and hard, step back, breathe, regroup, then move past the fear to the next step. I guess that’s where my courage is?! In my need to get away from the fear of things.
How did you fund your leap?
When I was 15, I was on a cadet camp and had to jump down a little ledge. My knee ripped apart. It was held together by skin for a week. I got a small payout from the insurance company but it was never enough to do anything with. I travelled and had a fun time, but the money didn’t do anything because I just never thought it was enough to make a difference. In 2005 Steve was walking home from a work dinner and a man came up behind him and king hit him. His face shattered. He had a broken ocular bone and temple, his cheek was shattered and he had to have his face reconstructed. He had blood in his brain and he ended up with permanent brain damage. His work cover gave him a payout but, again, it wasn’t enough for anything massive. We bought a car and decided to combine our money to start the business. It all went on product, the shop fit out and our POS system. It’s amazing how quickly it goes when it comes to retail.
People always tell us how lucky we are. Chronic pain and brain damage doesn’t feel ‘lucky’. We just turned our bad experiences into something good. The money set us up, but we still needed an overdraft and a small loan.
What other leaps have you made in the past?
I think one of the best leaps I took, that I believe is the reason I take leaps so easily, was when I was 21. I walked past Flight Centre and decided on the spot to go to Mexico. I booked a flight and travelled for six weeks. I only booked the first night in Mexico City because I flew in late but I bought a Lonely Planet guide and I did it all alone, with absolutely no plans while I was there. I was a little fearful, but honestly it was more exciting than anything. I met lovely people and saw things I could never have imagined.
Some people can’t drive to the city alone, so when I told people I was travelling alone they couldn’t believe it. It made me understand that I was able to look after myself and have a good time. It’s great to go places with friends but it’s so good for the soul to travel alone. I need to do a mini trip somewhere alone again. Bliss.
What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?
Working at Woolworths… I thought I could be a deli girl for the summer before I left to go to Canada to make some cash. It lasted a week. I need to work in a creative environment clearly. 😉
What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?
My anxiety disorder keeps me on my toes when it comes to irrational fear. I guess not having enough money to pay accounts keeps me awake at night the most. Sometimes it’s just too quiet and there aren’t enough dollars. I have found though, that being open with suppliers and making an effort helps, rather than not answering calls or emails. Suppliers are humans. They understand. They won’t understand if you ignore them.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
Probably 8.5 at the minute. It’s almost perfect. Almost. I love our business, but we work every spare minute of the day and make very little money. This year we are slowly working out ways to work smarter so we have some time to breathe. Last year burnt me out. I got shingles and now have ongoing nerve pain and it’s all from overworking. Almost a 10. We are almost there.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
I am working my dream job right now. I work full-time, but I am also at home with my kids. I work at night more, but it’s so nice being able to be at home with them and I love working a job that makes me smile and that I know makes so many others smile.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
The money. It’s really hard. The shop rent is massive. Our home rent is $800 and it’s not a mansion or anything and we need to live in a house because we have to work here, and store so much of the shop stuff here. Units are $600-$700 around here anyway. So the money that comes in, goes to rent. And rent doesn’t go to us.
We get to do a job we love, but struggling to pay for groceries is exhausting. We have just given my mum the job of accountant and she has helped a lot and is helping to balance things. People say ‘just move’ but it’s not that easy. My mum lives here, my entire family is here, my business works here. If I was to move I would need to move the shop, somehow find $70k to open another shop, and take the risk of it maybe not working in an area where rent isn’t as much. It’s not something we can do. Or something we want to do. We love our home. Our community is lovely and so supportive.
So for us, 2016 is the year we work smarter. We have saved for almost the last four years to go overseas. I have some work to do over there, but we are taking the kids on a trip, and giving ourselves a pat on the back for six amazingly hardworking years, and hopefully it helps the business go in a new, exciting direction. Money will always be a struggle for most businesses. So instead of doing the same thing, we got help, and hopefully that will make things more smooth in our next chapter.
What might be your next leap?
Growth. We want to expand the wedding side of our business. We do a lot of wedding stationery, mainly invites, but a lot of signs and chalkboards, and I am always being asked to style weddings. We have a lot of great relationships with businesses in the wedding industry, so we really want to try and build it up. We know what we want to do, we just need the hours in the day to be a tad longer.
What are your favourite words to live by?
Don’t be a dick.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
I actually really admire my mum. She took the leap to start her own cakes and cookies business and I know she was so nervous and unsure of herself, but I tried to encourage her every step of the way and she has done so well. She is so talented. I think, being in her 50s, she thought she was too old to do anything like that, but she’s got 30 years of experience and a talent that has been mastered. Her life has been hard- she has had some seriously hardcore stuff happen, and she just burst through it all, even with the fear, and now she makes the most stunning cakes and cookies and makes so many people smile.
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
Research. Be so determined to do what you want to do that you don’t understand the word ‘no’. I still don’t take the word ‘no’ as a final answer.
Right now I’m:
Working from the couch because I don’t have a desk anymore after moving house.
Hearing: Ellen on TV, and Minty just asked for a drink with her lunch.
Eating: I’m cleansing today. So, in between juice, I have water with raspberry and lime in it.
Drinking: See above.
Reading: The Fifth Wave. I started it in the holidays so I could see the movie, but I’m not reading quick enough because I get distracted by Pinterest and magazines.
Loving: Researching our big trip to America and binge watching X-Files from the beginning.
Here’s to celebrating you, your quirks, your bumps, your challenges and your loves. Here’s to saying it like it is, living large and brave, being human and wearing your heart on your sleeve. Here’s to making things work when it’s hard, to living with gusto, to not taking no for answer, to remembering the important things. And here’s to not being a dick. Perhaps the most solid words of advice we’ve had in this series to date!
p.s.s. Don’t forget to enter our giveaway! Leave a comment below letting us know how deep your stationery appreciation runs!