August 15, 2023
Like so many flourishing, women-owned brands, Aya Paper started as a side gig. But SaVonne Anderson quickly turned that side hustle into a growing brand, celebrated by Forbes and Refinery 29, and now joining our community on WMarketplace. SaVonne’s beautifully designed greeting cards reflect Black joy and her passion for sustainability. Read on to learn more from SaVonne and how she has grown a successful business with intention.
Aya was how I would help folks like me feel seen in the greeting card industry, and make a positive impact on the environment.
Why did you start your business? What motivated or inspired you?
As a lifelong lover of greeting cards and stationery, I was all too familiar with the feeling of walking down the greeting card aisle looking for something to celebrate my loved ones and not finding anything that looks or sounds like us. And as an advocate of environmental justice, I was also aware of how much waste product-based businesses can create. Aya was how I would help folks like me feel seen in the greeting card industry, and make a positive impact on the environment.
How long have you been in business and has your business changed since you started it?
I started Aya in 2019 as a side gig 2 years after college. Since then, I've become a full time entrepreneur, survived the challenges of COVID, been featured in Forbes and Refinery 29, and became a mom to a beautiful baby girl. In the beginning, there wasn't much pressure since I was just starting out. But now, I work a lot harder to keep up with the momentum that has built up around the brand. I also have to balance work with being a mom, which is a full time job on its own.
Do you have a mentor, formal or informal? What role have they played for you?
Yes! I have quite a few mentors. One of them was assigned formally through a grant I won at the beginning of my business journey and after the 6 month formal period, he continued to be a source of guidance and advice for managing business finances and wholesale channels. I also have some family friends who have turned informal mentors. They watched me grow up and when I started Aya, they became some of my most trusted business advisors and have helped me set up my warehouse, find a trustworthy bookkeeper, and introduced me to potential investors.
Our intention journal has "Nothing without intention" on the front of it and that is one of my mantras. It reminds me to be purposeful with everything I do, and not to take any moment or decision for granted. Having that journal on hand keeps me focused on our business mission to make a positive impact on people and the world.
Do you have items, photos or mementos on your desk that inspire you each day? What are they?
My item is actually a product from Aya. Our intention journal has "Nothing without intention" on the front of it and that is one of my mantras. It reminds me to be purposeful with everything I do, and not to take any moment or decision for granted. Having that journal on hand keeps me focused on our business mission to make a positive impact on people and the world.
Are there any apps or business services that you just can’t live without that you would like to give a shout-out to?
Calendly is my favorite service to use. It saves me so much time with scheduling meetings and managing my time efficiently. I also love Google admin for everything! From our Gmail to Drive to Meet, Google's business services keep Aya running seamlessly from my desktop and phone.
Thank you, SaVonne, for sharing your advice and journey with the WMarketplace!
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Launched in 2020, TheWMarketplace is a nationwide e-commerce marketplace for women-owned businesses to sell their products and professional and personal services. Offering favorable terms to its sellers, it also is a supportive community of women entrepreneurs that have access to learning opportunities through the trademarked HER-Commerce™ programs. With over 500 women-owned businesses selling 4000+ products and services ranging from home goods to coaching, in over 35 states, TheWMarketplace empowers shoppers with a new way to find the communities they want to support, including Black-woman owned, Latina-owned, AAPI-owned, Veteran woman-owned, and more. The Her Story Q&A is one benefit ThWMarketplace provides to sellers.