Here at The Grommet our mission is to put an end to nameless, faceless business and highlight the people and the stories behind the products we launch each day. And it's in that spirit that we're continuing this series to further share the stories of our Makers with you. Get to know them better, learn more about their journeys as Makers and entrepreneurs and learn how you, The Grommet Community, have changed their businesses for the better.
In this installment we're catching up with Wombi Rose, the Maker behind LovePop Cards. Launched on The Grommet last September, these sophisticated paper sculptures fold inside a greeting card and have delighted our community. We recently caught up with Wombi to learn more about how, along with his business partner John Wise, he has built his business and what advice he has for other Makers just getting started.
Tell us more about your design inspiration.
My partner John and I were traveling in Asia for a school trip while studying at Harvard Business School and discovered the amazing art form of sliceform kirigami. As engineers, we were enamored with the world of possibilities –all the things we could create. But it was the reactions of people opening our cards for the first time that really hooked us. Everyone has someone special in their life they want to give one to, and we help make that connection happen.
How do you get around creative blocks?
Our customers are incredible sources of inspiration for our design team. We love to engage with customers in the design process and most of our ideas for new products are customer-driven. The list of designs we want to make is so long, I almost can't imagine running out of concepts to build.
What is the best advice that you ever received?
"Where you are going is more important than how fast you are moving." It also happens to be the best piece of advice I find extremely difficult to follow. We all love to run as fast as we can when we're excited about something. But in the end, the only way to end up where you want to go is to go in the right direction. For us, that direction is about human connection, it's about surprise, and it's about careful craftsmanship. It's about upholding our core values: different, trust, hungry, service, and fun with all of our people and partners. By staying true to ourselves, we are confident we're going in the right direction.
What three personality traits do think have helped you become a successful entrepreneur?
Two of our LovePop values, different and be hungry, I believe are at the core of being a successful entrepreneur. An entrepreneur needs to do more with less, and the two ways to do that are to think outside of the box and to want it more than anyone else. When you don't have any resources, you get creative. It's that creativity under pressure, and the ability to thrive in that environment that makes a successful entrepreneur.
What lessons have you learned over the years that might help other entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
I've learned more lessons in the past 18 months than in the previous 26 years. I'll come back to the LovePop values once again: trust is the most important part of any team, and you won't be able to build a business alone. Quickly figure whom you can trust, and don't hold back. If someone doesn't work out, move on, but don't hinder people's performance by only half letting go. I'd also say, start with a product that has real demand. There are two tests you can do once you've validated a need: a) show the product to people, and b) estimate the market size. If both aren't a resounding success, it's going to be an uphill battle. Finally, I would say, always focus on understanding your customer first. Don't scale until you really understand your customer.
What has been the most rewarding part of business for you?
I love watching people open a LovePop for the first time. Even though I see it happen every day, it never loses its magic for me.
Since launching on The Grommet, how has business changed? How has The Grommet community made a difference?
The Grommet community has been phenomenal. For example, one of our advisors who has helped us improve our paper selection and gluing processes found us on The Grommet and reached out. Of course, sales have also picked up significantly, allowing us to reinvest in the business and truly grow LovePop with the new designs our customers are seeking. Thank you so much everyone!
To learn more about LovePop Cards, watch our video here.