Female Founded Business Spotlight...
For my Female-Founded Business Spotlight posts, I always feature women that I’m genuinely friends with and who run their businesses with grace and grit… and I can confidently say that Catherine Sullivan is exactly that! 😊
Catherine is the artist behind Catherine Sullivan Design, and she specializes in custom wedding invitation suites and a variety of other products (basically anything that looks good with some watercolor flare!). She lives in a suburb just north of Chicago, and is actually good family friends with Johnny’s family! So much so that we actually spent a week together two summers ago, vacationing in upstate Wisconsin.
I got to know Catherine and her family (she has a toddler girl and a baby boy who just turned one!) and immediately fell in love with her work as soon as I saw all that she’s done. Though Catherine specializes in weddings, her work spans a variety of product categories and she also paints and sells art prints, home décor items (the champagne and orchid prints are to die for… se below!), stationery, custom watercolor door paintings, holiday cards, and more.
I had the honor of being the recipient of one of Catherine’s custom monograms, which she designed for me and then had printed on the products pictured above! I think that this would be the most special and sweetest gift for yourself or a loved one… I couldn’t recommend it more! It’s only $100 (which is unbelievably reasonable for a custom painting like this!) and then you can apply the design to so many useful items— like stationery, coasters, bags, etc. You can even choose the ‘Amy’ design when you’re customizing the monogram so we can match. 😉
Below I ask Catherine a few questions about her background, business, and advice for brides who have been affected this year. She shares her story of dreaming up her business, leaving her corporate job, and her favorite Tina Fey quote, fit for entrepreneurship. 😊
I got to see Catherine again this summer when I visited Johnny’s family, and was reminded of what a creative and smart business owner she is. I’m honored to feature her work and story on the blog, and am excited for you all to discover her beautiful and meaningful designs if you haven’t already.
What gave you the inspiration and courage to start Charm Studio?
CATHERINE: I worked in a small stationery shop in Winnetka when I was in high school and spent my workday daydreaming about having my own line of stationery products one day. My first job after college, I worked as an art director for a large advertising agency and was just dying to make my little stationery dream happen. So I quit my safe agency job and started working for stationery shops and event planners for a couple years before I felt I had enough experience to work for myself. I started my own stationery company called Charm Studio in 2013, specializing in wedding and event paper goods. I just rebranded to Catherine Sullivan Design this year to better suit the direction my business is going today.
Which type of product or project are your favorite to design?
CATHERINE: I love working one on one with brides to help them make their wedding vision come to life! My niche is using watercolors to create a unique look and overarching aesthetic for all of the paper goods, everything from save the dates and invitations through programs, menus, welcome bags and bridesmaid gifts. The best part of my job is the lasting relationships I build with my clients and getting to celebrate with them time and time again as they continue through life with birth announcements, holiday cards and beyond.
What's been the most helpful entrepreneur or business advice you've ever received?
CATHERINE: It’s not exactly business advice, but my secret motto from the very beginning has been one of my favorite quotes from Tina Fey, “Say yes and figure it out afterwards.” I found success in never giving up and not waiting for the moment to be perfect, because it never will be. If you are thinking about doing something, like starting a business you have to just start and try and figure it out as you go. I still feel like I learn something new *almost* everyday.
Do you have any advice for women planning weddings or events who have been impacted by Covid-19?
CATHERINE: Covid brides I feel for you! What a brutal and crazy time to navigate wedding planning. Wedding planning is always a little stressful, but this year is one for the books. All of my clients have handled the situation differently and there really is no perfect solution. For your own sanity remain flexible. You and your fiancé have to weigh the pros and cons and decide what feels right for you and your families. On the bright side, you have each other and if you can get through this year you can get through anything together!
Who would your dream collaboration be with to design prints or products for?
CATHERINE: Oooh, this is such a fun question! I am full of design and collaboration ideas, it is impossible for me to pick one. I can picture a collection of stationery, planners, office supplies, gift wrap and more on an endcap at Target. I would be thrilled to partner with a brand aligned with values I personally believe in, like Honest, and design bold watercolor patterned packaging for their non toxic products. Now that I have little kids at home, I would even love to design a classic collection of patterns for children’s clothing, just to name a few ideas that first pop in my head.