Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Clarissa Harper founder of Cube Appeal, an office décor company based in Midlothian, Virginia. Clarissa is not only a small businesses owner/ young entrepreneur but also a mom. She is out to bring beauty and inspiration to work desks across the globe.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and career?
My name is Clarissa Harper, and I am the owner and designer of Cube Appeal. I make and sell framed prints, mirrors, and other office decor created to not only make your work space beautiful, but also to inspire and motivate you too. What makes my frames unique is that I specifically designed them to hang in cubicles. It’s been over a year now that I opened my Etsy shop, but this business has been a labor of love for me over the last couple of years.
I currently live in Midlothian, VA with my husband and 4 children. I’ve spent most of my career in the insurance industry working as an actuary, but like many other women, I’ve always had the desire to start my own business. I’ve had a love for creating and designing new things from when I was a child, but when it came time to think about a career, I chose something practical and stable. After many years working as an actuary, I began to think about my passion for art and design again and started to brainstorm ideas for a product I could create. Cube Appeal grew out of my desire to decorate my cubicle at work. With few options available that I could find, I started on the path of designing my frames and the prints that would go in them. Currently, I work full-time as an actuary, and run my business on the side. It is hard juggling two jobs and a family, but I love my business, and I’m enjoying every minute of running it. My hope for the future is that I will be able to afford to run Cube Appeal full-time and see it grow into a recognized brand in office decor.
2. Where does your inspiration come from when designing new products?
I find inspiration for my designs everywhere. I love Pinterest and looking at desk decor pins to find inspiration for nice color combinations and styles and motivational quotes to find words that will inspire my customers. I also look at what is trending, for instance I noticed pineapples has been very popular in décor so I will try to incorporate that into some of my designs. Magazines are another source I look to for inspiration and to see what is on trend.
3. Where did the idea of Cube Appeal come from?
Like I said earlier, Cube Appeal was born out of my desire to make my cubicle at work less stale and more personal and stylish. I was amazed to discover that there were not very many purchasable options available online so from that I immediately saw a need and got right to work designing. What started off as a hobby is slowing growing into a real business. It has been amazing hearing the positive feedback I’ve received from customers about my products and this motivates me to keep designing more and to take this company to the next level
4. Describe a typical work day for you.
Because Cube Appeal is currently a side business for me, a typical day for me involves a lot of juggling between tasks and priorities. In the mornings, I take to social media to post to my followers about a sale or a new product I just listed. During my lunch break, I’ll often go out to make some prints for my frames or run to the post office to mail off some orders. In the evening, after work I’ll work on orders while cooking dinner and taking care of my kids until they go to bed, then from there I’ll have a couple hours to either finish up an order or maybe work on a new design.
5. What is your most successful form of marketing?
I find social media, especially Instagram, to be my most successful form of marketing. I’ve been able to establish collaborations through this media and also interact with my current customers when they share feedback about a product they’ve received or reaching out to potential customers. What’s great about this is that you can reach a larger audience and still have that personal experience that I think will draw people to you and your brand.
6. Who is a #BossLady that you admire and why?
I greatly admire Coco Chanel, not only did she create a fashion empire, but she was also a woman of class and confidence. I featured some of her quotes in my “Iconic Women we admire” collection in my shop, and I find they inspire me everyday. In the same way Coco Chanel has affected people I want Cube Appeal to not only be a financial success, but also have an impact on women by inspiring them in their personal and professional lives.
7. What do you find the most challenging about being an online business?
Being a small online business, I find the biggest challenge is getting noticed. I’m basically a small fish in a big bond, so it is definitely a process to get my shop and products noticed, but I think reaching out to bloggers, and other online shops is a great way to reach a larger audience. I spend some money online ads, but I think getting a great review whether it’s from an existing customer or through a collaboration with an influencer is the best and most organic way to grow your business.
8. What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
I still consider myself a young entrepreneur, but one solid piece of advice I would give to a fellow rising entrepreneur is to make sure you are passionate about your business. I’m talking about when you can’t stop thinking about it and it excites you everyday. Because the fact is starting a business is hard, and a lot of work, so you will need that passion to get you through the tough times and obstacles. If you have that passion, I think your chances of succeeding will be great!
9. If you could collaborate with another brand or person, who would it be and why?
I would love to collaborate with the company Kate Spade! They have an amazing brand and products that caters to the young professional woman like I do. I think it would be amazing to do a series of Kate Spade inspired framed prints with some of the brand famous quotes like “She leaves a little sparkle where ever she goes”. I’m sure that would be a great hit with my customers.
Behind the Boss: Clariss Harper’s Mood Board
More on Clarissa Harper:
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