585
9 min 42 sec

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Make DIY Journals

Two friends try to start an online wedding platform, but they end up with a monthly subscription service offering personalized DIY journals.
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What It's About

Decorative journals for those who want something pretty but don't have time to beautifully portray what we ate this week in pen and watercolors...

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Curating & Research
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

To prepare for launching, the duo set up social media accounts and started engaging with the bullet journal and lifestyle community by commenting on pictures of journal designs, particularly on Instagram. Some of the more influential people ended up sharing Silk and Sonder’s designs with their own followers, which helped gain some pre-launch traction.

Fun Fact

Silk + Sonder's first “line” of journals is tea-themed. Each journal is inspired by a different tea blend, with little hints of that blend and its origin country present throughout the journal.

Notes from Chris

Episode 585

Meha Agrawal and Joe Yao go way back to a friendship in college. When they graduated, the two friends went separate ways, but that separation didn’t last long. A few years into their careers, Meha decided to start a side hustle in the form of a luxury wedding platform that would connect brides with vendors online, and it made perfect sense to partner with her friend who had just finished a coding boot camp nearby.

Launching that project took quite a bit of planning, and they figured bullet journaling would be a great way to organize their thoughts and next steps. The idea is to buy a journal with dotted paper and sketch beautiful designs that you can use to track things like your weekly calendar, to-do lists, and gratitude list. Taking the time to hand-draw your planner is supposed to be soothing, mindful, and clarifying.

The only thing was, they were both terrible at it...

They just couldn’t recreate the gorgeous page designs that were trending on Instagram, and the time they spent trying over and over again to make everything look nice and pretty was actually destroying their productivity. In Meha’s words, it was “deflating”.

There had to be a way to capture the personal wellness and productivity side of bullet journaling without having to suffer through the dull, uninspired designs of monthly planners—and at the same time, not have to be an expert artist.

But Meha and Joe couldn’t find any pre-made journals that really hit the nail on the head. The limited options were too boring, one-dimensional, and just bland overall—like they weren’t actually made by creative people, but by corporate execs.

So in July of 2017, they tabled their wedding platform idea and immediately got to work on a new hustle, Silk + Sonder. The goal was to blend the best bullet journal concepts, lifestyle and productivity thought pieces, and planner designs to create a monthly themed journal that would inspire self-care for the less-artistic.

In September, the two launched Silk and Sonder in preparation for their first monthly journal in October. Thanks to that early social media traction, they actually got their first sale that same day on their website. A few weeks later, they successfully fulfilled that first month’s few dozen orders, finished up the journal for November, and started to ramp up marketing.

The June journal of Silk and Sonder shipped to 25 states—a first for the company. They also recently broke $3,000 in monthly, have over 300 monthly subscribers, and are seeing 30% growth month after month. They know they’re doing something right, because gift subscriptions make up 25% of all orders—and those recipients almost always subscribe on their own after the gift.

But the side income is really only half the fun. For Meha, the ability to facilitate self-care and personal growth for hundreds of people around the country is a whole reward in its own—and more than anything, that’s the part she’s most excited about growing.



MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Silk + Sonder: Tired of everyone else showcasing their fab artistic skills on Instagram? Share some photos of your own—learn more over on Meha and Joe's website!

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"Ultimately, we wanted to curate our learnings and synthesize it in a way so that it would resonate in a product and consumer experience that felt like you had a 'life coach' in your back pocket."
—Meha Agrawal #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau