If you’ve ever wanted to hear the story of a true go-getter, then this is it! Whitney English started her stationary business at age 23 and ran it successfully for ten years, until choosing to take another design path. Whitney is a designer, an entrepreneur, a mom, and a spokeswoman for living a creative life, and she is on a mission to help others. By developing the Day Designer, Whitney has helped so many entrepreneurs, moms, etc. find balance and clarity in a busy, bustling life. We’re thrilled to have Whitney English sharing her story with us today in this exclusive feature, photographed by Amanda Watson.
Your planner, Day Designer®, is creating quite a buzz. How did you get in to designing planners? What about it piqued your interest?
Literally, what prompted me to create Day Designer® was a pile of dusty planners in the corner of a disorganized office. When I was running my stationery business, things were crazy. I was constantly looking for a way to “get organized” and “find balance” and every single thing I tried, flopped. Finally, I came up with the idea to bind my to-do list next to my schedule, and Day Designer® was born. It was the first planner of its kind on the market, and I hope it continues to impact users’ lives in the future, as it has for the past two years.
The Whitney English brand was a unique niche in the marketplace. How did you manage to combine all your passions (stationery, antique prints, textiles, etc.) into one distinct brand?
Ah, yes, the Whitney English brand. That would be my old stationery company. It was fun. I started it when I was 23, and ran it for over 10 years. I got into it because it was after September 11, 2001, and I couldn’t find a job in the interior design space. Interiors were my first love, which is how I came to use pattern designs on stationery. And pattern design quickly became a fascination and love as well.
You closed your successful stationery business in 2012 to focus on guiding other entrepreneurs. How confident were you in this choice? Did your family, friends, and co-workers support the decision?
It was definitely a tough decision. In many ways, I felt like I had no other choice. There were extenuating circumstances that lead to the closure of my company, and in a lot of ways, not having control over those outcomes was extremely worrisome. I had sleepless nights. In the end, even though things didn’t end the way I would have hoped, it was for the best. As far as being supported, to be honest, not many people knew what was going on. I did lose some friends in the process, but my parents stood by and encouraged when they could, and my husband has always believed in me and let me chase the crazy dreams, within reason.
Tell us about your new creative program for aspiring entrepreneurial women, Authenticate.
I started Authenticate, because I needed a way to run my consulting business, and let clients have “a piece of me,” without cramming my schedule full of conference calls. It’s been a huge learning experience, but then again, that’s the point–to learn something and then to pass it on. I consider the members of Authenticate to be my “inside circle,” and they’re the first ones I think of when I find a juicy nugget or a piece of great advice that’s just begging to be shared.
What’s one piece of advice you wish someone told you before you founded your own business?
Hire a financial consultant early on, and pay them well. I have a team I talk to once a week. If you want their name, shoot me a line. I’m happy to recommend them, as they’ve been a huge help to me.
What’s in the future for Whitney English? What can we look forward to?
Well, [deep breath], A LOT. If we were having this interview in person, I would laugh, maybe a little bit nervously. I’m working on something really fun right now, and I want to say, ask me in a year? I’m excited about a few things happening with Day Designer®, and I’m hoping to eventually write a book. And at some point, spend a year in the South of France. Maybe we should take a BFFF trip? :)
Photography for Best Friends for Frosting by Amanda Watson