March 30, 2019 4 min read 3 Comments
By Jess Yasuda
Last week we celebrated our website’s birthday, and it was a great opportunity to sit back and reflect on the journey Chasing Planner Peace has taken since we first opened our Etsy store in 2015. Now, the business employs myself full time, plus three other staff members (including my hubby, Keitaro), casually. But back in 2015 when I first started l literally worked on the floor as I didn’t even have a desk.
I didn’t really intend to start a business, I just began creating planner inserts for myself. I had become a “planner addict” after my second child Zita was born. At the time she was 6 weeks old and I really wanted a tool to help myself become more organised and help put on paper all the many things that were floating around in my head. Not just appointments, but budgeting, meal planning, household routines and health information. I didn’t even know exactly what I was looking for.
It actually took me a long time to find my first planner as I didn’t even know where I could buy them. I had no idea you could buy “inserts” on Etsy, I didn’t even know what an insert was. Somehow I found an A5 ring binder planner on eBay and shelled out what felt like a huge amount of $50 for my first planner. I loved it, but it wasn’t until I stumbled across “Planner Addicts Australia” on Facebook that I really fell into the rabbit hole. It wasn’t long before I had MANY planners, along with washi, pens, stickers and journal cards.
At the time there were extremely limited options in Australia to buy high quality planner inserts. I purchased a lot of printable inserts from Etsy but none of them brought me “planner peace” and the actual printing of them was often way too difficult to figure out. Pages would print in the wrong order, or I’d use a whole ink cartridge just printing one set of inserts. By this time I was using a discbound planner. I started designing my own vertical layout inserts and dividers and thought I might design a entirely discbound planner that I could get professionally printed. Before I got to this stage though, I thought I’d just pop some inserts up on Etsy to see if anyone might like to buy some. I knocked up a logo quickly (it was terrible), and took a photo with my mobile phone at 9pm on the coffee table (this was terrible too).
An example of early Chasing Planner Peace products
Astonishingly, someone ordered my inserts. Then someone else ordered some dividers. Maybe only two or three people in the first few weeks. But it was pretty exciting! Somehow I decided to turn this into a business – not a full time business, just a little hobby to have something to do in the evenings. I would sit on the living room floor once the kids were in bed with my laminator and paper cutter next to me. The printer was in our bedroom.
I went off to Officeworks to get a printer that could automatically duplex – just a cheap $160 inkjet. Eventually, as orders picked up, it was running for 12 hours a day (it was very slow)! Keitaro said $160 inkjet printers aren’t designed to work 12 hours a day, but that printer (we called it Unstoppable) ran for a good 6 months until one day it stopped working and we realized the insides had turned to dust. Unstoppable 2 was the same model and only lasted about three weeks. I often think if Unstoppable 1 hadn’t been such a great printer I would have given up on the business. I was completely lulled into a false sense of security about how reliable printers are. Since then printers have brought me to tears many times! We now run four laser printers (Unstoppable 4, 5, 7 and 9) and an inkjet for Traveler’s Notebook covers (Unstoppable 8). Keitaro is now the printer guru and there is no way this business would continue without his constant printer troubleshooting.
When I first started there were so many things I didn’t realise I would have to know – photography, postage, packaging, customer service, design, legal stuff, manufacturing and importing, book-keeping and lots more. Sometimes it’s best to jump in and learn all this stuff later or perhaps I never would have started. I am so grateful to the customers who ordered from me when I was working on the living room floor, the customers who received my first lot of personal size inserts that were cut from A5 paper two sheets at a time because I couldn’t figure out how to print on personal size. I am grateful to all the customers who have been patient when we’ve stuffed up their order.
These days we run our own website and have our own brand of planners. Last week I was able to quit my part-time government job (I’d been on leave for over a year). Keitaro can work part-time and be home for our kids, and I have made some wonderful friends – especially Jay and Clio who help out with packing orders and marketing. Our aim is to help people just like I was a few years ago who want to get a planner and get their family organised do just that – we like to think we offer customisation that not many other planner brands offer – by offering a mix and match service where customers can really build a planner that works for them. Funny to think that a few years ago I didn’t know even know where to buy a ring planner! I’d encourage everyone who has thought about starting something, to just jump in and give it a go, because you really never know where it might take you!