My friend Emily introduced me to Jeannette, the cofounder of Peyton and Clark, and we’ve become fast friends. Jeannette is so kind and always has the best advice. Jeannette and her mom founded the company Peyton and Clark. Jeannette’s mom makes the most beautiful, whimsical, fun illustrations. They started out with notecards and now they sell tote bags, coasters, wall art and even furniture! Once you start reading, I know you’ll know why I’m so inspired by Jeanette!
What inspired you to take the leap and quit your job in finance to start Peyton & Clark full-time?
It has always been a dream of mine to start my own business, especially one that could showcase my mom’s art. It has always made our family so happy; I thought it could make other people happy too. That was my goal even in high school. Working in finance in London, New York, and San Francisco was a great training experience – but working 14+ hr days, meant that I couldn’t do both.
Life is short and my parents always said, work hard, stay open and follow your passion because you never know where you’ll end up. I have to say, starting a business from nothing and growing it every year and the challenges you face and running it day to day – I’ve never learned more or been happier.
For years, I wanted my Mom to put her art into the world. I grew up in a house surrounded by her artwork, and her love of nature, and simple joys is evident in everything she does. She would draw up stationery for friends and family, and give her work out as gifts. One friend even asked to have prints made of almost all my mom’s designs. That’s when it hit me how much people loved my mom’s work – and I realized we had a great opportunity to spread her art and the happiness that come along with it.
I think that’s what it really comes down to – bringing people simple pleasures and bringing them back to nature and family in this hectic age we live in.
How would you describe the brand in a few sentences?
I would say it’s sleek, elegant and fun. Everything is made from the finest materials, so you’re really getting a special product. But that’s not even the most special part about it – it’s the fact that we don’t have a whole team of designers working at computers. Every design that gets etched onto our products comes right from my mom’s imagination. So in essence, whether you’re buying stationery or a coaster set, you’re also buying a unique piece of art that can be personalized to make it just as a unique as the person buying it.
We started with stationery, but we quickly began to see that people wanted to be able to keep the designs for themselves. They wanted to be able to have it around all the time – so we started selling the designs as wall art and have expanded to now include coasters, note pads, and tote bags. We are constantly thinking of new ideas to combine the designs with items you live with daily. The lucite furniture (my fav) is our newest addition. It was another idea that my mom dreamed up, and we see it as another way of bringing the outdoors in while bringing the same whimsical feeling that our paper goods do.
What are some of the best things, and on the flip side the most challenging things, about starting your own company?
The best thing about staring this company is that, out of all I’ve accomplished in life, this makes me the most proud. I think my Mom (aka the artist) feels the same way. It’s been a wonderful journey – to have an idea, build a website, create a product from nothing, and get into stores and press. It’s amazing to see where the spark of an idea has taken us. The coolest feeling in the world is meeting someone new and learning that they love the brand, or getting a call from a friend who’s abroad that’s just seen your product in a storefront. That feeling of accomplishment hasn’t gotten old yet!
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself by starting Peyton & Clark?
I learned that it’s true when people say you can do anything you set your mind to. I had been told that I could accomplish anything many times growing up. I did believe in myself, but when you start on a path and you don’t know where it will lead, it takes a lot more courage than you might think to keep going. I learned that I had that courage, and I’m so happy I listened to that age old advice.
What are your roles and responsibilities at Peyton & Clark?
When we decided to take the plunge and start this company we had an agreement – mom does the art and I do everything else. That’s pretty much the case….
Your mom designs the beautiful Peyton & Clark illustrations and you run most of the business operations. Do you have advice for other people who may want to work with family members?
We are really lucky because we get along so well and have very different strengths and weaknesses. We really balance each other out and without my Mom we wouldn’t have a business. My handwriting is horrible and my drawing skills are even worse! I would say, just know what those strengths and weakness are and respect each other and what you do.
Peyton & Clark has been featured in some of my favorite publications like Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Coastal Living, and LONNY. Do you work with a PR team? What advice do you have for getting buzz in the press?
We currently do not have a PR team. We’ve been so lucky and blessed with the press we’ve gotten. Lots of it has come from editors coming to trade shows and looking at our booth. Every piece of press we’ve gotten is framed in our office. It really makes me happy to see my mom’s work in major publications.
My advice would be to be open to all opportunities that might arise to showcase your products, because you never know where those opportunities may lead!
What is a typical day like for you?
When I first started, every day was so different and so unpredictable. At the end of the day, I would sometimes say, what I did I even do today? Or I would get bogged down with administrative items that weren’t exactly fun. There are all sorts of things I never realized I’d have to keep track of when starting a business. Now my days are still somewhat unpredictable, but now I’ve learned to block time off and allocate certain days and times for certain tasks such as reaching out to stores, marketing, updating spreadsheets, and responding to show requests.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Work hard, be nice and treat others how you’d like to be treated.
You don’t always have to in the spotlight at work, just be known for consistently doing great work, and being easy to work with – amazing things can happen from there.
What advice do you have for other young professional women?
I would say first of all that when you come out of school, go for something you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe you wanted to be an actress or live abroad. Try it while you are young and work hard. You’ll either see that it lives up to your expectations or that it’s not all you thought it would be. The job you take right of school does not have to be your life long career, you can always go back and get a graduate degree or change paths in some way.
For women further along in your professional life, keep in contact with your former clients and work friends. Have a list of people that you reach out to every 4-6 weeks. You want to stay on the radar and you never know where you’ll end up, and who might be able to help you reach your goals.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start their own business?
Do something you are really passionate about! Without a whole team of people when you start out, you’ll be doing everything that needs to get done. If you don’t love it, you’ll give up quickly.
Just as important – have a marketing plan and a consistent voice. Figure out how to make your voice and product come across on social media channels and in all your advertising. It’s really important that customers have a clear vision of who you are and why your products are worth their time.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be a little deaf and blind and happiness you’ll always find.” – My grandmother used to say that.
A note from Jeannette and Bebbins:
I just wanted to say, thank you so much for featuring my Mom and me! We are really proud of the company that we have built and it’s hard to describe how amazing it feels to see how we have grown from selling a few products in the USA to now having the collection at fine retailers in Europe and Tokyo. It really is a dream come true! We are continuing to expand and are even working on some new exciting projects and new website, so that we can offer our customers even more. Excited for what the future has in store.
Many thanks from our family to yours.
Jeannette & Bebbins