Name: Julie Everhart
Age: Over 30
Location: Portland, Oregon
Education: Graphic Design degree from Portland State University
Job Title: Owner, Studio Olivine
What She Does: Julie is the artistic mastermind and owner of Studio Olivine, a wholesale stationery business. In her Portland, Ore., studio, she creates social stationery, business cards, boxed notes and invitations featuring bright, whimsical letterpress designs that she prints by hand on 100% recycled paper.
How She Got Her Gig: Julie initially took a job as an illustrator for a letterpress company and fell in love with the craft. After leaving that job, she bought her first press and taught herself how to create the kind of cards she adored sending as both a child and an adult. After getting past the huge learning curve of being self taught in letterpress, she launched Studio Olivine. Interested customers quickly started discovering her work and placing orders. “I honestly just think I drew the lucky card,” she says. “People started discovering my work. I would get phone calls early on and hang up the phone in surprise thinking, ‘How did they find me?’”
Giving It Her All: Julie works about 70 hours a week, though she’s recently hired an assistant to get her away from the office at least one day on the weekend. “Lots of people say, ‘Oh, it must be so nice. You can just go to work whenever you want!’” she says. “But the problem with that is if I don’t go [to work], there is no one there to do the work. Surprisingly, I would still rather do this than a 40-hour-a-week job somewhere. I really don’t think I would fit in anywhere else.”
Best Part of the Job: For Julie, the most rewarding thing is that people like what she creates and that they use her cards and artwork as a token of gratitude or love for the people in their lives. She can do without the business stuff like billing and licensing, which she counts as the worst part about working for herself.
Reading Materials: Julie tries to keep up on color and pattern trends in the industry and also reads fabric and textile sites—especially vintage ones. However, she doesn’t get too in-depth studying the work of her peers. “I like to think my work is going to go in a new direction from what is out there, so the more time I spend looking at the work of other letterpress lines, the less I’ll be able to keep things original,” she says.
Lessons Learned: Julie’s biggest mistake was starting her business without first getting advice from other business owners. “I am very squared away, but I definitely made some silly mistakes early on, like launching a lot of different products without really thinking about profit. I would get so excited about an idea and launch it but then realize it wasn’t very realistic if I wanted to bring home money,” she says. Since her start, Julie’s given Studio Olivine a more narrow focus but says new ideas involving wall prints and screen printing are in the works.
This Job’s for You if: “You’re inspired, dedicated, and have a deep love of what you do. I think a lot of the reason why these [businesses] fail is because they stem from less than 100% passion,” says Julie. “If you don’t want to live it, you likely won’t succeed.”