Lindsay Henry is the owner and creative force behind Inklings Paperie, a Plymouth, Michigan, manufacturer of sustainably-produced greeting cards and paper goods. Her creations aren’t just typography and design on quality paper – Lindsay adds a special touch of whimsy to everything and is constantly coming up with innovative ideas for greeting cards. She’s known for introducing scratch off cards, 3-D cards, confettigrams, and cards with reusable stickers.
2020 was a really difficult and upended year for the greeting card industry, as many retail stores closed at least for months, and sadly, some permanently. But we’re catching up with Lindsay as business is looking up, and with incredibly happy news for Inklings Paperie!
Chatting with Linsday Henry
First, the good news! This year, Inklings Paperie received the top honor in the greeting card industry. Your card – Anything is Possible, inspired by Ruby Bridges – won the Greeting Card Association’s Louie Award for Card of the Year. That’s awesome, Lindsay!!! I’ve been a Louie’s judge several times and the level of talent in the competition is fierce! Tell us about your card design.
Thank you Hannah! We were honestly shocked and thrilled to receive this award. It was not something we were expecting at all. This particular card started with the brave little silhouette of a hero of mine, Ruby Bridges, whose courage paved the way for so many. We wanted to incorporate a vinyl sticker that can be kept as a reminder of this message. My hope is that this card and what it represents will encourage all girls, but particularly those who are underrepresented and marginalized, to stand tall, dream big and let nothing stand in their way!
Is this your personal favorite of all the cards you’ve done? If not, which one is?
As for my favorite card of all times, that’s kind of like asking a parent which child they love best… how can I choose? Honestly, I don’t have a favorite…. but we do have a new range on the way which we’ll be announcing shortly at NY Now that is one I’m most excited about right now. It’s been in the works for years. That’s all I can say about it for now, but hopefully I can share more soon!
It looks like you discovered your passion for paper expressions early – in design school – and made a business life with it?
Yes! I’ve always loved art and design. My parents actually met in art college, so it’s something they always encouraged in me. I also had an entrepreneurial bug in me. As a kid, I was always making and selling things… haha! After about ten years working as a professional designer, I began to explore creating a brand of my own, which became Inklings. I never would have dreamed it would grow to become what it is today!
You started with a few products on an Etsy store, and grew into a company with Starbucks and Anthropologie collaborations and products in stores all over the country. What would your successful business woman-self want to tell the young Lindsay receiving her Bachelor of Design Degree?
I’m giggling here at the “successful business woman-self” title! But truly, if I could go back in time I would tell my young self to press on. When I graduated high school and pursued a degree in art, I remember the raised eyebrows when I mentioned this path to my teachers. Most of my friends were going into law or medicine. That was not the path for me, and I’m glad that I trusted my gut. But otherwise, I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. This life and brand that’s grown out of choosing a creative path has been one of the most beautiful surprises. Sometimes companies are born from a business plan, and some are born from heart, hustle, and a little magic. I believe ours is the latter.
2020 was hard. You and your team are moms. How did you balance work and family, especially when schools were closed during the pandemic?
Oh wow, yes! 2020 was a doozy. Our all-woman team truly pulled together to get the job done. I’m so proud of them. We did not lay anyone off when everything shut down. We’ve always been a super flexible, laid-back team as far as families and schedules are concerned. I’m also grateful that we have a space where kids can be. We literally keep scooters at the studio for that reason. So some days, we had kids working on schoolwork on our conference table. Other days, we took work home and made products there. We did what it took to get the job done, and also made sure that our own health and families were first priority.
Did 2020 teach you anything that you will carry forward in your business?
I feel that 2020 taught all of us lessons that we’ll carry forward. From a business perspective, I feel that it taught me about using trials as opportunities to fuel creativity and connection. When things came to a full stop in early 2020, everyone was paralyzed with fear. At Inklings, we took some measured risks and chose to use that time to create new products that were relevant to what was going on. We also reached out to our fellow small business owners and sent cards to our retail partners and really tried to let them know that we were there for them. Personally, 2020 also taught me even more lessons about work-life balance. In some ways the idea of balance is a myth, but I have felt a greater sense of freedom in this season of my business to say “no” to certain things. I chose this path of small business ownership so I could have the freedom and flexibility to enjoy a creative life while also being present for my family and friends. I’m hopeful that as 2020 forced all of us to “slow down”, this will be something that we can all carry forward. These days, the hustle is less important than the heart.
Your core values are important to you. How do you bring them into your business?
One of the best parts about owning a business is that your core values become the foundation of everything you create. I saw it first-hand in my own father’s business: he ran a small design firm with integrity, treating his employees like family members. I try to do the same, but I’m far from perfect.
Is there anything you do to help the creative juices flow and come up with new ideas?
I feel like I’m constantly jotting down ideas in a notebook or on my phone. Ideas are rarely the issue, it’s more about focusing on which ideas are worth pursuing and which ones need to be laid to rest! As a team, we often have creative huddles to discuss product ideas and review designs in their early stages. There are no egos here, and I love being able to brainstorm ideas as a collective whole. Every idea comes out better on the other side!
Women’s Daily Post has a lot of women members who wish they could start their own business, become entrepreneurs and mompreneurs. What would you tell them to help make the decision for a big move? What are some pros and cons of having your own business?
I would tell them to just start. You don’t need all the answers to begin. Start small, and trust the slow and steady growth. Sometimes we are so afraid to fail that we feel that we need to have it all figured out before we begin. Just take that first step. Also as an aside, why don’t we call men with families “dadpreneurs”? You can be a great mom and also have a great business. When your kids see you using your God-given gifts to do something that you love, that’s pretty important.
Your company motto is “We believe that love is in the little things.” What little things are your favorite things?
I would have to say that our Scratch-off Lunchbox Notes are my favorite little things that we make! They were one of our first products ever, and are still one of our most popular. Write a little note, and turn it into a scratch-off. I still like to give them to our boys, who are now 8 and 12.
Your card says “Anything is Possible.” What do you hope becomes possible for you and Inklings Paperie, and for everyone?
That’s a big question! For me and Inklings, I would hope that we continue to be surprised and delighted by what is ahead; that we would continue to create meaningful products that connect people and bring them joy. And for those who are reading these words, my hope is that you dream big and expect great things to happen!
Where can women buy your cards?
Everything we make is available at inklingspaperie.com. If you’d like to support a local store, they can also search for shops in their area that carry select products of ours: