I started The Postman’s Knock (TPK) in 2012, and, since then, it’s been a passion, a hobby, and a profession all at once. In this post, I’d like to share some behind-the-scenes things with you that I don’t think I’ve mentioned before. It’s fun for me to get to write about this type of stuff, so I hope that you enjoy reading it!
1. The Idea to Start The Postman’s Knock Originated at an Office Job
I originally started The Postman’s Knock to offer my custom calligraphy and design services. The idea originated from an offhand remark made by a coworker at an office job I had in 2011. The coworker mentioned that she sometimes calligraphs addresses on wedding envelopes for extra income.
My initial reaction was, “Wait a minute — people will pay you to do that?” My next step was to just go for it. Within the next week, I had set up an Etsy shop and I was in business. (You can see some of the items that I offered here.) The Etsy shop wasn’t profitable for the first few months, but it operated like a paid internship. I had clients who compensated me for my designs or services, and I learned from each project that I took on!
2. I Learned How to Blog at Mother Earth News
In my last semester at university, I worked as an editorial intern at Mother Earth News. MEN is a sustainable lifestyle magazine with articles about gardening, how to raise chickens … that sort of thing. I wasn’t able to contribute much knowledge on that front, but I wrote research-based articles to the best of my ability. Along the way, I learned how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works, and I got valuable feedback on my writing style.
The TPK blog turns ten years old this year, and I am so proud of what this website has become. All of this likely wouldn’t have been possible without that Mother Earth News internship!
3. The Postman’s Knock Has Evolved. A Lot.
Last weekend, we were having a family Marvel movie marathon. As an actor appeared on the screen, I commented to my mom: “That guy was my client. The wedding invitations I made for him are framed and hanging on a wall in his house.” That made me think about how I used to take commissions, and how much I enjoyed collaborating closely with clients.
While I loved doing custom work, I had to stop accepting commissions in 2015. At that point, the website started to gain a lot of traction. I had to choose: focus on adding content like video courses, worksheets, and blog posts to the site … or keep on taking commissions. It was a tough call. Sometimes, I miss the challenge of commissions and having specific project parameters. I am happy to have chosen how I did, though. I love being able to put all of my energy into creating new content!
Cool fact: Every three minutes, someone somewhere in the world downloads a freebie TPK printable.
4. I’m Married to My Web Developer
A decade ago, my boyfriend-now-husband learned how to code in order to make this website. He went on to get a PhD in Aerospace Engineering, where he refined his coding skills. For five years, he worked exclusively for The Postman’s Knock. But eventually, the website reached a point where it just needs the occasional bug fix now and then.
Now, Hernán codes software remotely for a national lab in California. He stays busy with work, but he is always happy to help whenever things are over my head.
5. TPK Didn’t Have a Supplies Shop Until 2019
If you’ve followed TPK for a while, you already know that until 2019, all of the products on the site were digital. I had worksheets, video courses, and eBooks. Selling shippable products didn’t appeal to me because it involved a lot of logistics. Additionally, we traveled a lot before we had children. I couldn’t imagine managing inventory from a distance, and I just didn’t want to mess with it.
After I had our first child in late 2018, though, we traveled a lot less. Hernán did the legwork of finding distributors and hiring a couple of CU students to package up items. The very first TPK tangible product was this calligraphy kit. After that, we slowly added inventory. The shop isn’t vast, but I like it that way. I curate what I stock to only include items that I use and love, like iron gall ink, parallel gliders, and custom fitted oblique pens.
6. Time Management Has Been a Learning Process
When I first started The Postman’s Knock in 2012, nothing could stop me from working all day and night! I developed wedding invitation designs in a frenzy, stayed up until the wee hours making calligraphy, and posted to social media as much as I could. If I had to choose between eating a meal and working on a project, I’d always choose working on the project. As I understood it then, successful people are busy, and of course I wanted to be successful.
Today, I realize that one of the benefits of having your own business is getting to choose what to do with your time. Now that I have two small children, I prioritize family time. That means I rarely work after 4:30, when my three-year-old gets home from nursery school. During the day, I switch off with my husband, who also works from home, to watch our two-month-old. When he’s taking care of our infant, I do art stuff! When I have her and she’s sleeping, I catch up on emails and write blog posts like this one.
7. The Postman’s Knock Has Employees
At any given time, there are three part-time employees working for TPK. They’re usually University of Colorado students. The employees’ main responsibility is to package up Supply Shop orders. Beyond that, they contribute to TPK based on their skillsets.
For example, one of my employees — an engineer — has a knack for precision. He helps me out making Brause EF66 nibs. Another employee loves drawing and lettering. So, we meet for brainstorming sessions once a month to plan out blog post topics.
8. I Didn’t Go to Art School … Kind Of
The Postman’s Knock is all about art and calligraphy techniques, but its creator — me — never went to art school. Sort of. I grew up in a small town, so from kindergarten through senior year of high school, I had the same art instructor. We closely collaborated to hone my skills, and some of my works won national awards. I had a batik that was on display in New York City for two years! So, in a way, I studied art techniques for 12+ years during my childhood.
I applied to the University of Kansas too late to get into the graphic design program. So, I shrugged and decided to focus on my other love — literature — to get an English degree. In the midst of my university studies, I went on a semester-long art history study abroad in Florence and Paris, where I found a lot of artistic inspiration (and met Jess of Greenleaf & Blueberry). After university, my passion for art was reignited, and I used my writing skills to blog about the techniques I was playing with — like calligraphy. And here we are now!
I hope that you garnered some inspiration from this blog post, or at least learned some interesting things about The Postman’s Knock that you may not have known before! If you have any questions, I’m always glad to answer. Thanks very much for reading!