In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Natalie Keller Pariano, founder of NatterDoodle. NatterDoodle sells hand lettered and illustrated home goods, stationery and gifts, is based in Columbus, Ohio, and has been in business for five years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Natalie: I’ve been a writer since childhood and have always loved the emotion that poetry can evoke, the sense of connection an important piece of writing can surface or the giggles a clever piece of wordplay can induce.
In my previous career as the Dean of Student Life at a university, I was looking for a way to decompress, to turn my brain off at the end of the night. I turned back to my first love, writing, and started creative journaling. That’s how I found hand lettering and got back in touch with my love of creative arts.
I launched my brand, NatterDoodle, in 2015 after months of sharing my lovingly lettered creations on Instagram and mailing doodles across the country to anyone who asked (for free)! I realized my hobby was turning into a jobby!
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
N: I started with all original and custom hand-painted pieces. Over time, I learned how to share my creations so more people can enjoy them (printing, screenprinting, etc)! I still hand draw and illustrate everything, but now have a line of goods outside of paper that features my art!
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
N: I hand draw and hand illustrate everything. I love to draw on my iPad Pro, but I still really prefer the nitty gritty of pen and paper. As a business of one, I have created some incredible partnerships with local manufacturers and printers to help me produce all of my goods!
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
N: Every day is a little different! Some days I’m teaching hand lettering and other creative workshops at my studio or at wonderfully unique shops all over the country. Other days I’m lovingly packaging up wholesale orders for my awesome retail partners; still others I’m painting or writing, getting inspired for new pieces.
Every day I’m trying to engage with my friends and fans on social media and help women feel more colorful, creative and connected.
R: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
N: I first started with my online store selling all original pieces. Soon after, I got involved with the creative community in Columbus, Ohio and found my way into local markets, craft shows and then in some consignment stores.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
N: My online store, the occasional handmade market and some of the most charming gift stores and boutiques around the country. I also have a studio in Columbus, Ohio where folks can stop by to shop! Sometimes my work is licensed by larger companies for their product lines.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
N: I love brick and mortar stores! I adore the community they build, the individual quirky character of each one and the passion of their owners. I’d love to have NatterDoodle in every town’s favorite gift shop!
R: Do you have a favorite product? If so, which one?
N: I really love designing dish towels! They add such a cheerful pop of fun to the kitchen, which is the heart of most homes. Some of my most cherished pieces are long form pieces of writing I’ve done and made into art prints. I love seeing folks connect with the pieces; to witness that moment when a person feels like – “Someone gets it! This is about me!” Seeing someone connect with something I made and experience that warm hug of not being alone brings me a lot of joy.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
N: I really enjoy social media (for the most part) and work hard to engage my audience every day. I have a strong following on Instagram and a very loyal following on Facebook. I want to invite people into my process, my home, my life, so they feel connected not just to products they love, but to the person behind them. And I have a pretty fun rainbow theme happening on my Instagram, so creating that colorful puzzle can be pretty fun!
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with your business?
N: One of the best things is getting to have my hands in everything, which is fun as a creative. That said, there are days that feels overwhelming! I would love to be the artist and visionary and let someone else take over the CEO role some days!
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with your business?
N: Selling out art workshops all over the country continues to be something I’m incredibly proud of!
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
N: That no two days are alike! Also, that I get to have my rescue pup Confetti and rescue cat Caboodle at work with me all day!