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Dear Amazing Clients and Friends of Empress Paper Crafts,

You may have noticed that our social feeds haven’t had any activity since 2016, and you haven’t heard from me since. Beyond the black hole where our website once was, I wanted to officially let you all know that all good things must come to an end.

When one door closes, another one opens… it just took me some time to find it. So, this isn’t really a true “ending”, but rather a new beginning in a different direction.

Before I dish out the details on what’s coming, I wanted to fill you in on what happened over the last few years as I fell off the social media grid.

 

Here’s the full story…

Empress Paper Crafts was launched in 2012 as a boutique design studio that specialized in creating custom wedding invitations and stationery. It was also my first bona fide business and foray into the world of entrepreneurship.

In late 2015, I made the difficult choice to take a step back from my business after giving birth to my son. It was important for me to be fully present during my first experience with motherhood — its highs and lows, sleepless nights and all!

After #momlife kicked in, it became more difficult to provide the same level of customer service to each client. My team had done amazing work, but my creative direction was the glue holding everything together, and our custom projects couldn’t continue in the same way without my involvement.

Being the stubborn perfectionist that I am, I didn’t want our clients to settle for anything less than our best work and a top-notch customer experience.

My little guy came 2 weeks early, so I found myself answering emails from my hospital bed, despite my best efforts to wrap stuff up before my due date — True story!

Charlene-Li-Family

 

Unfortunately, there’s no real “maternity leave” when you run your own business. Over the next year, I had to stop accepting new clients. All my time and attention was spent catching up on lost sleep or trying to figure out how to win at this parenting game. 👶🏻 Spoiler alert: You CAN’T win, you can only survive on couch naps and lots of coffee!!!!

It pained me to turn away referrals from happy customers, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I relocated to Boston for a year in 2017, and wrapped up my final design projects from across the border — One of which included invitations & stationery for a romantic destination wedding in Como, Italy!

I had reached a turning point where I knew it was time to pivot. I was determined to find another business model that better suited my lifestyle, where I could still serve the world in a creative and impactful way.

 

My journey wasn’t perfect.

People thought I was crazy for leaving my high-salaried accounting job to start a design studio. I felt like I was constantly swimming upstream those first few years, fighting judgment, coming to terms with change, putting myself out there — It wasn’t easy getting started.

I’ve suffered depression, anxiety, and sleepless nights while questioning my life choices. I’ve burned the midnight oil tinkering with paper cutters, design software, my website, and even worked through the night until 7 am the next day tying ribbons and assembling 200+ invitations that had to be delivered to a client later that afternoon.

I’ve had fights with my husband about our finances and everything under the sun. I also realized he was my biggest supporter, and partner in life. Without him, I would have quit a long time ago.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to the critics. As they say, if you’re not being pushed out of your comfort zone regularly, you’re not growing.

 

Empress Paper Crafts will always be my first love. ❤️

From studio to photoshoots to magazine features - my previous stationery and design business

 

Personally, it enabled me to pursue a lifelong dream, leave the corporate world, and become a full-time entrepreneur who has successfully built a six-figure business.

Professionally, I was challenged in ways that I’ve never been in the corporate world. I learned more life skills in 4 years of running my own business than I had in almost a decade climbing the corporate ladder.

I’ve gotten to meet so many unique people from all walks of life, and learned about so many cultures — I’ve grown to become friends with many of my clients and still keep in touch with them to this day!

In 4 years of serving our customers, Empress Paper Crafts has:
  • Created invitations and stationery for over 500 weddings 💍 + events
  • Served Canadian clients 🇨🇦 from Saskatchewan to Halifax, and everywhere in between
  • Served international clients from Alaska 🇺🇸 to Hong Kong 🇭🇰
  • Completed branding projects for numerous corporate and small business clients
  • Built a small army of designers, production + promo staff
  • Exhibited at Canada’s largest wedding show, Canada’s Bridal Show twice
  • Sponsored a gala for the Wedding Planners Institute of Canada
  • Had our work featured in high-profile wedding blogs and publications including: WedLuxe, Style Me Pretty, Elegant Wedding, Weddingchicks and Weddingbells

I’ve spoken so passionately about entrepreneurship, that I even ended up inspiring those around me to start their own #bossbabe journeys: 2 clients ended up starting their own wedding-related businesses, and a photographer decided to leave her day job and commit to her business full time! 👏

All of this magic would not have been possible without YOU GUYS — the amazing clients, and wedding and event professionals I’ve met along the way.

I sincerely THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for allowing Empress Paper Crafts to play a role in celebrating the milestone moments in your lives. 🙏

 

So, what’s next?

Having my own business has taught me to value collaboration, mentorship, and community.  In the spirit of those things, I’ve decided to start a blog called Crazy Cute Co. devoted to empowering mompreneurs and creatives with the financial knowledge, strategies + mindset to succeed in business and life.

Read more about the blog here!

I’ve spent the last few years shying away from my financial background. However, I’ve since realized that knowledge is meant to be shared — There are too many entrepreneurs out there who are stuck in the grind, and could use some guidance on how to look at the numbers so that their businesses can get to the next level. There are others who are doubting themselves and just need an extra boost of motivation so that they don’t feel so alone.

I’m not perfect by any means — I haven’t got it all figured out yet (I don’t think anyone can really say they have), but I can help because I know what it’s like to feel like nobody out there understands your struggles, and what keeps you up at night.

If this sounds like you or someone you know,  please share + follow along with me on this new journey.  I could really use your help to get this content out into the world! 🙏

 

A New Business Partner

In other news, my hubby and I are in the midst of developing a gourmet snack eCommerce venture! He became involved in a food startup incubator during our time in Boston, and placed Top 2 in a local pitch competition. 🙌 I’m so proud he found his entrepreneurial groove!

We’re excited to launch our concept back home in Canada later this year. I can’t spill too much about it now, but I plan on sharing more details about this new venture on the blog when things are further along!

➤➤ Also read: The 10 Commandments of Working With Your Significant Other

Let’s keep in touch!

FOLLOW ME @crazycuteco on Instagram or Pinterest

Please let me know your thoughts and how you’re doing these days — I’d love to hear from you!

I’ve intentionally switched over all my previous Empress social handles to @crazycuteco because my past is an important part of my future, and people should be able to see that.

It’s important for us to look back once in a while and see how far we’ve come.

It's important for us to look back once in a while and see how far we've come. Empress Paper Crafts is now the Crazy Cute Co. blog!Click To Tweet

With so much love + gratitude,

 

P.S. #BossBabe Stuff I ♥

Here's the full story of why I chose to wind down my first six-figure business, Empress Paper Crafts. My journey into momhood, and a glimpse into what's coming next!
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