Entrepreneur Friday – Courtney Daniel
Happy Friday hublets! Time for another Entrepreneur Friday. This week we have lovely Courtney Daniel from C. Daniel Designs. So grab a cuppa/vino/margarita and take 5 minutes to read about Courtney’s journey as a female entrepreneur.
Tell us a bit about your business?
C. Daniel Designs is home of the finest bespoke handcrafted stationery. We work with busy executives and entrepreneurs to help maintain their social calendar by expressing thoughts of gratitude.
We welcome individuals who have an appreciation for handcrafted luxury. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and incorporating our client’s personality in every piece. C. Daniel Designs is quickly becoming the preferred choice for busy professionals looking to enhance their business and personal brand.
What inspired you to start it?
Before 2005, it started as a hobby, which then quickly turned into a business. At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be an entrepreneur or business owner. I didn’t know anything about it, nor did I want the headache. But after many requests to make invitations, menus, information cards, etc., I thought entrepreneurship might be something to pursue.
The same year I landed my dream job working as a Celebrity Personal Assistant. Little did I know, the business I was initially unsure about would become a lifesaver. Maintaining the client’s social calendar was a perfect opportunity to incorporate my custom card designs into the mix. Working in the entertainment industry, you are always, always fighting against time. Thinking outside of the box and having a supply of cards with me all of the time allowed me to focus on the next task at hand.
What is your career background?
I have over 15 years of experience in the financial industry. Throughout my career, I’ve held several positions, which included Executive/Personal Assistant to Celebrities, Training Liaison, Assistant Branch Manager, and Staff Accountant. I’m no stranger to flexibility and meeting the needs of my clients.
What is your vision for your business?
The vision for C. Daniel Designs is to be the go-to company for business owners and clients that want to step outside of the “we’ve seen that before” box. I care about my clients and create with passion, heart, and attention to detail, which is key to providing a quality product and service.
For example, if a company holds a yearly gathering and they need top-notch invitations, I want to be the one they turn to, knowing that the design aspect will be better than what they had last year.
You’ve balanced being a successful business woman with raising a family. Any advice for other women?
My advice would be to communicate as much as possible in whatever way possible with your family. Create a central location for all upcoming activities and vital information of goings-on, including all of the sports schedules, after school programs, family outings, etc. I’ve learned that having this central calendar allows all of us to stay on the same page, and someone will always know what’s going on today, this weekend, or even a month from now.
How do you maintain a good work/life/family balance?
Is that a trick question???? Ha! One thing that keeps me organized is writing everything down in my day planner (or calendar). I am fairly old school, so yes; I do carry around a day planner. The day planner is like my personal assistant. As a back-up to the planner, I put appointments on the calendar in my phone.
Before bed each night, I check my calendar via planner and phone so that I know how to plan for the next day. So far, so good.
What was your light bulb moment? When did you realise you wanted to be an entrepreneur/business owner?
My light bulb moment came when I would always receive requests to create and design for friends and family members. I really enjoyed the fact that they loved what I had created for them, and I knew the right questions to ask in order to bring their visions to life.
My family has always worked hard, which I especially saw growing up. They have always owned property, restaurants, and businesses, so I don’t know anything else.
What lessons have you learned along the way?
The main lesson that I have learned is to be yourself and do what makes you happy. I get asked where I learned my skills all of the time, and my answer is always that I’m self-taught. I knew that I was different, because when things did not appeal to me, I would make it myself. You have to follow your heart and pull from your inner creativity.
What has surprised you about owning your own business?
What surprised me most and what I had to learn was how to turn work off and family on. It’s a challenge when working from your home studio, and the kids come knocking. I found that if I was in the middle of an email, I would ask them to wait one moment. Two reasons: I wanted to complete the thought I was typing, and I thought it would make them forget and come back later.
I was wrong…..
I created a schedule for me to work while they were in school until an hour before they came home. That was the best thing I ever did. It prevents me from having to lock my studio door to keep them out, and now I can give them my undivided attention.
Who and what inspires you?
My inspiration is not just in one person and thing. I am inspired by the things that happen daily in my life. It could be something my kids said to me, a memory I had with a friend, or something that I saw while walking my dog.
When I am able to channel all of these emotions and things, this is when my best work is created. I see it with my eyes, I get a feeling, and I express it through my designs.
Do you have a daily routine or rituals you do?
The daily routine is to get the kids up and ready for school. Once they are on the bus, I prepare my green tea, put in a load of laundry (if needed), head to the gym, and once I am back home, I shower and report to work. It’s an important schedule for me to keep prioritizing my family, myself, and work when appropriate.
What obstacles have you had along the way?
There are always obstacles that will either break you or make you. I feel that my move from one state to another made me a much stronger business owner. It made me step up to the plate in a major way. I was in a new territory and no one knew who I was or knew about my business. This was my opportunity to get myself out there and make my presence known.
Putting my big girl pants on has afforded me opportunities to have my product carried in local stores, to interview in the daily newspaper, and to win the 2016 American Small Business Championship, which was a national event. I had to make a choice, and I am proud to have stepped up.
What is one thing you wish you’d known when you first started?
The one thing I wish I had known before starting is that sometimes you have to just step away from it all and breathe. If I am not working, I feel as though I am failing myself. Quickly I learned this was not the case, and you need time and distance to reflect on what has been accomplished.
Tell us your favourite tools that make your life easier (apps, websites, software etc)
My favorite tool is my computer. I have a tablet as well that I take when I am out, but I think I get a lot more done when I am sitting in front of a real desktop computer.
What is your favourite quote?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”–Maya Angelou
Courtney has over ten years of experience and is celebrated for designing quality custom stationery, executing events, using her creative insight, and enhancing the customer experience. Courtney remains the visionary behind the firm and is contracted by individuals and businesses to create beautiful invitations, thank-you notes, and other stationery materials. Courtney is referred to by most as a creative thinker and is highly respected in the community.
She is a wife and mother to three very active boys who keep her on her toes. Recently, they decided to increase the family number by adding a dog named Molly to the crew. On days when Courtney is not designing, you can find her teaching Zumba at her community YMCA, volunteering, or spending time with family and friends.
Courtney’s most recent accomplishment includes winning the 2016 American Small Business Championship for C. Daniel Designs that will be celebrated in Washington, DC.
Why would an entrepreneur or business owner work with you?
A business owner or entrepreneur would seek me out if they realized they needed help. Most business owners don’t know they need help sending out notes of gratitude to peers and family members until it’s really too late.
For those clients who are constantly at networking events, social gatherings, working with major vendors, and juggling family and friends, this is where I step in to help them organize their social calendar.
I maintain the relationship that the client created with the person of interest. Even a hand-written message of “Nice to meet you!” can be a game-changer.
Thank you Courtney for your wonderful story!
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