Darby Kemp and I met in 2012 at a Christmas Open House for Belmont University alumni. As Belmont graduates who are also entrepreneurs, we were both invited to be vendors at this open house event. As I started picking up her cards and reading through them, I couldn’t help but chuckle at nearly every one.
I’m thankful to share that this first chuckle has blossomed into a fun friendship and business relationship. 🙂 We support each other’s businesses (I adore her Christmas cards…and she adores our body microdermabrasion…) and she’s even jumped on the blogging accountability bandwagon that Leks and I picked up in March.
You MUST check out her social profiles below and take a look at her work. I’ve included a few of them below throughout our interview. I can assure you will find yourself chuckling gleefully as I did! Let’s get to our interview with Darby!
Starting with the basics…Darby Kemp started Darby Cards in June of 2011. Darby Cards offers greeting cards, custom invitations and more. She identifies her target client with the following characteristics…an entertainer, a socialite, in your 20’s – 50’s, a mom who loves throwing parties or a bride planning her wedding…Darby’s office/design studio is located in the Green Hills area of Nashville, but you can purchase her cards on Etsy, her website and at several fine retailers across the U.S., and even in Australia and Canada too!
Darby, tell us how you discovered your passion for creating greeting cards.
I started working at a paper boutique in college and fell in love creating invitations and all things paper. That passion only continued to grow and thanks to an old friend, in 2011, I decided to jump head first into my own greeting card line. The messages were easy! The cheeky one-liners for the cards came from conversations I have had with friends and family.
How and when did you make the decision to go from part-time to full-time…hobby to serious business?
Darby Cards had just turned one when the volume of business became enough to where I could begin to rely on it for a career and even better, an income!
Do you have employees / an assistant / intern program? If so, how did you adjust to letting go of the work and entrusting someone else with it?
I have 2 employees. With my major in Entrepreneurship, I am definitely more comfortable on the business side of things. Andie and Cori are definitely way more talented than me and I love being able to give them free reign and let design run wild. I feel we create a more diverse portfolio having three people from three different aesthetic backgrounds.
What has been your best method for generating new business?
I tend to let the business mold itself. One year, we are creating greeting cards and then next, we are bursting at the seams with bachelorette invitations and now, we are growing more into wedding suites, which encompasses save the dates to wedding programs, napkins and even koozies.
Did you encounter criticism from friends or family when you started Darby Cards? If so, how did you respond?
I never really encountered criticism but I did experience many people not taking the business seriously since I did work out of my home. I heard “that’s a nice hobby” more than once. The blank stare after you tell someone you make greeting cards in an e-card world is typical, and it would get to me, if I wasn’t passionate about what I do. As for working out of my home, we have grown so large that now we have moved into an office!
What is your favorite thing about being self-employed?
I enjoy watching Darby Cards grow. As I am blessed through this business, long hours and hard work are a given, but seeing happy customers over and over again because of some wild idea I had almost three years ago, is priceless.
If you could go back and give yourself one tip from day one of the business, what would it be?
Always find time to do something for yourself outside of work, and get a good accountant.
Are you involved with any community outreach / non-profit organizations? If so, tell us about it/them and why you got involved.
Currently, we have a line of K-9 greeting cards. When a store buys them, 50% of the proceeds go back to help the animal shelter of their choice. The shelter we have been able to get involved with the most is Agape Animal Shelter, which is local to Nashville. At the end of the year, as we are blessed, we like to bless others. We have had the opportunity to give to several other charities throughout the years including Not For Sale, Ronald McDonald House, Curry Ingram Academy, Water Project, Brentwood Baptist, Mercy Corps and Operation Christmas Child.
Where do you go for inspiration for your work? (Person, website, location, book, etc…)
I get many card ideas from Darby Cards fans. I love hearing their ideas! For business, I get so much inspiration from my father, who owned his own engineering firm. I definitely have his hard work ethic! I also work alongside a woman who has successfully owned a greeting card company since 1985. She reminds me to try new things but stay true to myself.
What are you doing when you’re not designing cool cards?
I love to spend time outside the office, with friends having a drink or taking a walk. I feel design ideas come when I am most relaxed and enjoying life. The greeting card one-liners, well those come from the drinks with friends.
Can you see why I adore this gal?! What an exceptionally talented, delightful entrepreneur you are, Darby! Who doesn’t want a party in their mailbox?! SO fun. Thank you for taking some time to share with us your passion for what you do and wisdom as a business owner. I’m thrilled you took the leap of faith to start Darby Cards and shine little rays of humor and joy into others’ lives. I hope your story, like the others here, will inspire and empower all who read it.
What “golden nugget” did you pull from today’s interview? I’d love to know what resonated most with you. Please share and let’s dialogue in the comments!