Mica May, CEO and founder of May Designs, has perfected the art of pretty notebooks. Her company had a big year, opening a new studio space in Austin, Texas and finding its customizable notebook collection among Oprah’s Favorite Things 2014! Take a peek inside May Designs’ studio launch party and join us as we swoon over the team’s lovely workspace!
Photography by Kara Hoey
What were your main goals when you opened your own paper design business?
Well, I started with one product: May Books. I focused completely on notebooks—and on the customization options with all the different patterns, fonts, colors and inside pages we could offer. What I LOVE is all the different things you can create! So the primary goal was and still is to allow our customers to interact with our website to create something beautiful that is uniquely theirs.
We added two new product lines to our website this year: completely customizable photo cards (invitations/announcements/holiday cards) and photo books. While the products that May Designs offers are paper goods, I like to think we are both a design and a tech company—blending both beautiful patterns and a completely personalized experience for each customer!
How would you describe the aesthetic of the items you create?
I would say our aesthetic is feminine and sophisticated with a touch of flair. Because patterns are what set us apart and make May Designs unique, we try to offer a wide range of patterns that inspire several types of design styles yet also remain within our overall brand vision.
We want to be a place of inspiration. You can find the latest trends (like our deer damask or cross stitch) that challenge and stretch the style of our everyday customer. We also have classics (polka dots and rugby stripes) in every color—fantastic patterns for everything from a birth announcement to a gift!
What are some lessons you’ve learned since starting your business?
One of my favorite philosophies that my business partner and I lean on to make decisions is that trust equals efficiency. It essentially means that the more you trust your team, the more productive and efficient you will be. Letting go and learning to trust my team has been challenging, simply because I did everything myself for several years. I literally did all the designing, product planning and forecasting—even down to the actual fulfilling of the orders from my living room.
As we’ve grown and added staff and begun building out departments, I’m less able to be in all the day-to-day details, so trust is crucial to our success. Trust that the designers are going to build products and marketing campaigns that are perfectly on-brand. Trust that everyone at May Designs is executing the vision that I’ve had from the beginning of the company, and striving for excellence and efficiency.
What’s next for your growing business?
It’s definitely an exciting time. Having recently moved to Austin, we immediately added four people to our growing team. We have a new energy in the office as we head into 2015. This past year was a year of internal development—expanding our team and our product line—so I’m really excited to get out there in 2015 and simply market our new products. Marketing and dreaming up new collaborations and ways we can share our company with more people is one of my favorite things to do, so I’m crazy pumped that I’ll get to dream big over the next several months and then go make it all happen!