We had the good fortune of connecting with Cara Jo Knapp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cara Jo, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
My business started as the hobby I didn’t know I needed in my life. I had been working in the technology industry as a web designer, developer, marketing manager, analytics person, and everything in between. If it had to do with websites, I did it. I was looking for a creative outlet that I could do after work that didn’t involve me writing tons of code or digging through data. I picked up calligraphy and started learning the art of calligraphy. It forced me to slow down, and take my time and get back into creating something handmade. For my entire life, I have been an artist – so this was the perfect outlet for me to disconnect from the day! Eventually, I started making stuff for others, and it kept growing and growing. Once I designed my wedding invitations, that was it, I was hooked on weddings. I didn’t realize that the wedding industry combined all the things I loved; creativity, love stories, motivated business owners, and beautiful decor! I decided to start my own business right after our honeymoon. I want my stationery designs to be classy, meaningful, intentional and isn’t super stuffy. I want everything I create to be approachable and welcoming, and that’s how I run my business to! For a while, I was just doing things on the side, but then I got laid off from my big stressful tech job, and it provided me the opportunity to go full-time with my own business. Going full-time has allowed me to find my own style and voice, but also opened up so many more opportunities for me! There’s so much more you can do with your business when you make the rules! Currently, I only focus on wedding invitation design, calligraphy has taken a back seat to my true passion of designing for couples looking for keepsake invitations.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been an artist since day one of my life. I have always had the mentality of “yeah, I can do that” and then I figure it out. It pushes me to discover new ways to solve problems, or new mediums, or just be inspired by something out of the norm. I would say growing up being an artist wasn’t the easiest. Being an artist is expensive, that’s why there are so many “starving artists” out there! You can spend upwards of $50 on a single paintbrush! I didn’t grow up rich, or well-off, so I had to work hard to get to where I am now. My high school art teacher pushed me to take on challenges and advanced art courses because he saw the potential in me. We’re Facebook friends now, and he still gives me A+ grades on stuff I post, and it brings me so much joy to know he’s still checking in on me. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that you have to say yes to the things that scare you because those are the things that can create opportunities for you that wouldn’t otherwise happen. I have said “yes” to so many things I wouldn’t have in the past and it’s honestly one of the reasons I am where I am today. That being said, you should definitely say no to things that aren’t right for you. Knowing the difference takes time and experience and that’s the hard part!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The first stop after they land would be breakfast, my friends always fly in and land at 7 am, so we would need sustenance! Probably go to City O’ City or Syrup. If we were feeling fancy, we would get breakfast at Panzano. If we were spending the day drinking beer, it would have to be the brewery with the best patio for dogs. I’m not a dog person, but I will love on other people’s dogs all day while drinking beer! Eventually, we would head to the mountains and go to Lake Granby for some camping on the lake, bonus if we can do some camping where you need a boat to get to the campsite. I’d take them on some of my favorite hikes, watch the sunset on the lake, drink some beer we brought, and then play games around the campfire. Other alternatives include Leadville, Glenwood Springs, or Salida.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have made some amazing connections in the Colorado wedding industry. Loni, of LP Creative Events, is my ride or die. All my ideas go through her at some point. Cassie, of Wandering Wagon Bars, is always pushing me to do my best and to raise my prices when it’s right! There’s also, what I like to call a secret society, of amazing stationery designers out there that are always there for me when I have a paper question, wording conundrum, how to find that one font I need, or even just to hype me up! The stationery community is the best-kept secret of the wedding industry! I also have to share some love for The Influencers Collective (Run by Erica + Mallory). They have provided a space for women business owners to thrive and support each other! Joining their mastermind has been the best decision.
Photo of myself: Jenna Sparks Flat lay with the teal background is by Ariel Kezel Photo