How One Woman Turned Her Side Hustle Into Her Main Hustle

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Jun. 6 2013, Published 3:00 a.m. ET

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Those who know me well understand how much I love stationary cards. I like to keep birthday, holiday or ‘Thinking of You’ cards so I can delve and reminisce about my favorite memories.

According to Harvard Associate Professor Francesca Gina, the importance of giving thanks lies in “receiving expressions of gratitude makes us feel a heightened sense of self-worth, and that in turn triggers other helpful behaviors toward both the person we are helping and other people, too.”

In our interview with Tanea Smith, founder of the stationary business She Got Papers, she reveals how her drive and inspiration allowed her to turn her side hustle into another stream of revenue. Read on to discover a new layer to the definition of gratefulness. Her advice will leave you saying, “thank you!”

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Her Agenda:What inspired you to start a stationary business?

Tanea: My love of writing and paper started when I was 11. I gave birth to my daughter in 2007 and after many years in corporate America I began reflecting on what the next phase of my life would be. I knew with certainty that it would have to be something that I loved. A collection of note cards infused with my trademark wit that could inspire others seemed like the perfect way to go.

Her Agenda: What was your personal mantra to remain positive in the beginning stages of She Got Paper’s?

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Tanea: I had a particularly messy “I’m over this business” moment one day. I had come home from my day job and had been working on the business day and night for several months. This was before I got smart enough to realize that no man is an island and I really needed help. I put my daughter to sleep and called my sister and cried like an infant. My sister was patient and scary silent and then she said very softly and stern “Tanea, just follow through.” And that was that. I’ve had the most amazing doors open for me because I’ve followed through.

Her Agenda: What advice would you give millennial entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own businesses?

Tanea: I love to listen to the back stories of people who have been successful and I’m always interested in what their perception of success is. I listen for the buzz word. No, not sales. Passion. Without passion, you and the business will both perish. You’ve got to have it. It will pull you through during the dark hours and also propel you to get creative in order to survive the storms. I advise entrepreneurs whether they’re selling chicken wings or cocktail dresses to dig deep to find their passion and then to identify their why. What are you doing and why? From there you can build yourself a blueprint.

Her Agenda: If you had to relive your 20s again, what advice would you give yourself?

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I would say ‘Sweetie, face forward & walk through it. No matter how difficult or how much it hurts, it’s ALL going to be so worth it!’

Her Agenda: With social media being used as a constant in communication, why do you think there is still a need for sending/receiving stationary?

My beloved grandmother passed away on March 15th. I went home, cried bitter tears and climbed into my bed with two big nesting boxes. For the next few hours, I was propped up on four pillows re-reading every single letter and card she had sent to me from the time I was a little girl. Social media and electronic communication will never duplicate the lasting memory of a card or letter. Not ever. Stationery will be around for years and years to come.

Her Agenda: How do you express your gratitude to those in your life?

Handwritten notes of course!

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