When graphic designer (and longtime paper lover), Suann Song longed for a line of paper organizational products that were handsome, beautifully crafted and made domestically, she came up short. And like many creative entrepreneurs, instead of sitting on her hands waiting for someone else to create what she was looking for, she dove in and made it herself! With our theme of productivity this month, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have Suann share her best tips for staying organized and productive!
We absolutely adore your line of paper goods, Appointed. How did the company come to be?
Thank you! I’m a graphic designer by trade and successfully ran a branding and design studio for years. As a designer, my work always begins and ends on paper—and I always wanted beautiful but minimalist and durable paper products to use in my work. I had a hard time finding that, let alone American-made products, so I decided to make my own! I dreamed up my perfect product line and after a year of designing, prototyping, working with various partners and vendors, raising seed funding on Kickstarter—Appointed was launched in 2015 and we’ve been going and growing ever since.
In a world run by technology, why do you feel drawn toward pen and paper?
There’s something about the tactile process of taking pen to paper. If you write something down on paper you’re more likely to remember it, and based on this article, you’re 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. That being said, I don’t believe paper and digital products are mutually exclusive and that they can be used together. For example, my everyday tools—and essential to my productivity—are my iPhone, laptop and notebook.
What do you want people to feel when they use your products?
Each of our products are created to inspire productivity, creativity and organization. I truly believe that if you surround yourself with a beautiful environment or items, it enhances your productivity and creativity. If any of our products help in just the smallest way, we’ve accomplished our goal. I love hearing when someone had just a little more confidence when they walked into a meeting with one of our notebooks or seeing the excitement to get organized when someone starts a new Appointed planner.
Can you tell us a bit about the creative process from start to finish?
It always starts with a need that we’ve identified. For example, we’re launching desktop storage boxes later this month. We believe an organized environment fosters productivity and creativity and we wanted to create simple, beautifully crafted storage boxes to organize paperwork, hold desktop items and tools, or work as a keepsake box for important memorabilia, etc. Once we’ve identified that need, we start researching and designing followed by prototyping—working with different materials, weights and designs until we come up with our perfect version of what we’re trying to create. Our products look simple at first glance, but there is so much thought that goes into every aspect of the design.
What tools do you use to stay on track while running a business?
So many, but here are a few that I’ve found the most useful over the last few years as Appointed has grown. In the office, we have large boards where major deliverables are written down. It helps for both the operations and production team to see what everyone is trying to accomplish in any given month. I live by my Year Task Planner. We launched this product two seasons ago, and it has been one of our top-selling products. I keep my appointments each week written on one side and tasks and notes on the other. For programs, here are my top to keep the business running: Quickbooks is essential to all things finance-related, from payroll to running P/L reports. We’ve used Stitch Labs from day one—this helps us manage our wholesale and custom orders as well as inventory and because I spend a lot of my time managing supply chain, this has become a vital tool.
What does a productive morning look like to you?
I pre-plan as much as possible. I have two kids and I try to prepare as much as I can the night before to minimize stress in the morning. For work, at the end of the day, I write my to-do list for the next day. It helps to have a sense of what my day is going to look like going into it.
We know you love putting pen to paper, but are there any apps you use on a daily basis to stay organized?
Yes, definitely, but I keep it pretty simple. Google calendar and shared Apple notes with my husband are daily tools. At the office, we use Trello (a great web-based project management tool) and Slack, which helps to minimize the number of emails in my inbox and is perfect for quick communication with the team.
Where do you find you are most productive?
It’s usually not the location but more my mindset. If I’m organized and have a list of tasks and a few hours to accomplish it, I can be productive almost anywhere!
Do you have any advice for budding entrepreneurs who don’t know where to start when it comes to systems and productivity?
Being an entrepreneur is a daunting task. The list of to-dos are endless. I like to recommend: determine your top priorities and create a manageable task list with a reasonable timeline that helps you to accomplish those top priorities. I also like to suggest you create as much of a schedule as you can. As entrepreneurs, most of our days are reactive and unpredictable so sometimes we have to make a conscious effort to put aside time for important tasks like organizing finances, creating a marketing plan or developing new products in order to effectively grow our companies.
What’s next for Appointed?
We’re getting ready for our biggest holiday season and looking forward to launching new initiatives like a Holiday Gift Guide with products from inspiring female founders. For example, we’re working on a special candle inspired by paper from our friends at Linnea’s Lights. For next year, we’ll be expanding our popular dated planner series to meet the requests of our customers and expanding the Appointed for Kids line that we launched this month.
shop our favorite Appointed products:
You should also check out 5 Ways To Do An Energy Reset This Fall And Why You Need One, or I Started Using Creative Visualization And It’s Changed My Life!