Originally from Perth, Cassie moved to Melbourne to pursue a career in public relations. Although she then succeeded in landing what she thought was her dream job, she realised that it wasn’t what she wanted after all! One night after coming home from her 9 to 5, Cassie dreamt about creating a business that combined two things that were important to her – stationery and making her mark in a positive way.
After leaving the corporate sector in search of a greater purpose, she spent time learning as much as she could about the world of Social Enterprise. Feeling at home in her new found tribe, Cassie knew it was time to bring her dream to life and launched Inspirationery, an eco-friendly stationery label that donates 50% of profits to education and leadership programs that empower women and girls.crowdfunding inspirationary.co @inspirationery1 facebook
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
First of all I am obsessed with stationery. Like many self confessed stationery freaks, I find that there is something so intoxicating about a fresh, new notebook and all the opportunities and possibilities it holds.
One day, when I returned home from my 9 to 5 job and I decided to write down all the things I was passionate about and all the things I wanted to spend my life doing – I’ve always used notebooks to clarify my thoughts, collect sources of inspiration and write down inspirational quotes like they were gold.
I wrote that I wanted to combine my love of business with my value of making a difference, putting people over profit and the belief that doing good and good business didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. When I realised how often I turned to stationery in my life, I knew that I had found the perfect outlet to bring these values to life. I often found myself buying stationery that didn’t fit with my values. Which is how Inspirationery was born. I wanted to create a label that inspired people to follow their dreams and also give opportunities to people who were without.
That was four years ago now! It honestly took me that long to find the courage to bring my idea to life. This year I decided that I wasn’t willing to wait any longer for someone to give me permission to make my mark on the world, so I just took the plunge and started!
Please explain your business model
Inspirationery is a social enterprise, so we operate as a business by selling beautiful and inspiring stationery, but rather than focusing solely on profits we are driven by a social mission to inspire and empower women and girls to reach their full potential. We do this by donating 50% of our profits to breaking down the barriers to education and leadership programs for women and girls around the world.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
We’re at the tail end of our crowdfunding campaign so I’m working hard to pre-sell $20,000 worth of product by Wednesday night. If we don’t reach our target, we walk away with nothing– talk about stressful!
You can pre-order inspirationery products from the campaign at pozi.be/inspirationery. Treat your self to some beautiful products and help get Inspirationery off the ground!
Over the next three months I will be focussing on getting our orders out, while listening to consumer feedback to make our products even better. I will also be focusing on creating a community of people who are inspired and empowered to make their mark on the world by providing exclusive resources and opportunities.
How do you make ideas happen?
For a long time, four years actually, I didn’t have the confidence to start Inspirationery. Now I try to use the ‘angry birds’ approach that I learnt from a TEDx Melbourne talk by Pete Williams from Deloitte. Basically the approach is ‘Aim, Fire, Adjust!’ – just get started and learn by doing. If you spend too much time thinking and never actually doing, it won’t get you anywhere!
What does your typical day look like?
At the moment, I’m juggling a full-time job and Inspirationery so I work from 9-5 in my office job before working 5-10 and weekends on Inspirationery.
Recently I’ve been aiming to walk to work but I haven’t been very successful at getting myself out of bed! I think I need to find myself a workout buddy so I’ve applied to be a dog walker at my local lost dogs home. When my work at my full-time job is over I usually head to a meeting after work, check our pozible tally (with fingers crossed), respond to emails, chat to our designer, read or watch something inspiring, eat some dinner, try to wind down by reading a book and then go to bed. I also like to try meeting likeminded people at events as it helps keep me motivated. I also try to throw in some yoga for good measure during the week.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
I think the number one challenge most entrepreneurs don’t want to talk about very much is the fear of failure and that annoying little voice in your head that says ”You’re not good enough”. Finding the courage to overcome self-doubt was definitely the biggest hurdle for me.
After I took the plunge and decided to launch Inspirationery, I had to learn a lot of things really quickly! I had no idea about running my own business let alone paper production methods, the different types of inks, finishes and bindings in stationery.
I spent a lot of time researching charity organisations to make sure that our impact would be maximised. We chose Plan International Australia as it is accredited by the Australian Council for International Development which means that it adheres to strong accountability and transparency measures.
In terms of actually getting started with production, we had to figure out how we would finance the first print run and we decided that crowdfunding was in line with the brand values of creating a community of people who were inspired and empowered to follow their dreams. And that’s only some of the challenges so far, but it’s also been so rewarding!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Networking is absolutely crucial but not in the way we’ve been taught. I believe networking is an opportunity to meet people who are likeminded and inspiring.
I’m passionate about knowing what makes people tick, what keeps them up at night, what do they value and what inspires them. I think everyone craves real connection to feel that we are understood and that we aren’t alone in the good fight.
I don’t want superficial relationships that are purely transactional, I want to be part of a community of people who are inspired and empowered to follow their dreams, that’s how I want to create value. I believe if we can create these authentic connections, we can create a movement of people who care about much more than just profits.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
What about internationally?
Holstee – their manifesto was one of products that inspired me to start Inspirationery!
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
I think there is a huge opportunity for business to affect social change. I think that as a society we’ve realised that the traditional models of business aren’t benefitting anyone but the people at the top. There has been a big shift towards conscious consumerism and people demanding social value. By simply buying socially and environmentally conscious options, we can create big change through small actions multiplied by many people.
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you’d like our readers to support?
I would love to support Plan International Australia!
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
There are plenty of opportunities to get involved with Inspirationery. We are looking for people in all areas – product development, marketing, social media, public relations, law, accounting and finance and general interns. If you want to be part of our community send us an email at [email protected] with your resume and outlining your ideal position.
Currently our most pressing need is funding through our Pozible campaign, as I mentioned earlier we have about 48 hours to pre-sell the remaining product in order to get our idea off the ground!
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
Kinfolk and Feast of Merit – two very awesome social enterprises in Melbourne.