Catching Up With the Crew: Jasmine Wall on the Adventures of Owning Your Own Business

Jasmine Wall (JW) and Kasey Kirchner (KK) recently sat down to talk about Jasmine’s design and stationery business, The Imagination Spot, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. With a degree in Illustration and Classical Animation, Jasmine has worked as an educational book illustrator for Scholastic Canada, a t-shirt designer for Disney Consumer Products, and a graphic designer for a large gift company. She just joined the Write Connections Creative Crew last year.

KK: So I read in another interview that you started doodling at a young age, and I wanted to ask what you most liked to doodle—if there was anything specific—or why you think you enjoyed it so much.

JW: I grew up in India where it was warm and nice and we had lots of flowers all the time. So I grew up doodling flowers. We also had a lot of festivals and I would doodle cards for the festivals for friends and family. I then started taking some classes in art. I did a lot of art competitions where there was always a theme to draw. But in my sketchbook now, I mostly doodle animals and cute little creatures. I love to draw nature because with flowers and animals, you can put any kind of expressions on them, or you can make them make you feel a certain way. You can make them fun and whimsical and cute in a way that makes you smile. I love to doodle patterns too, because the design just kind of flows in patterns. You can have several different elements to the design. I love using bright colors and drawing things like that.

KK: When you sit down with your sketchbook, do you have a goal in mind, or do you kind of just let let it happen?

JW: I would say it’s more like I have a goal in mind. When I started, it was all over. I would draw whatever I would think of. But I think, since it’s become more of a business than a hobby, I now have a goal of what I am drawing. Like I have to create so many sticker designs.

As a stationery designer, you have to draw new card designs all the time, and “birthday” is usually the biggest seller. So after I’ve had the same designs out for a while, I will give myself a deadline to create new ones. For example, by next month. I’m going to have three new Mother’s Day cards. And stickers are so popular right now. So I am trying to get myself more due dates to come up with new designs. And I also order in bulk, so it’s better to have 10 designs at one time to send to a sticker company instead of two or three.

KK: So this year marks the 10th anniversary of The Imagination Spot. Congratulations! How does it feel?

JW: It feels good. It’s been a roller coaster ride and a lot of learning. I worked full time as a graphic designer before I started The Imagination Spot. On the side I would then do art and craft shows. I had no idea what wholesale was at that point. Then some people reached out and said, hey, we’d love to carry your cards in our store. So I researched, learned, also exhibited at the National Stationery Show in New York. Then I decided to open a retail shop. And that was a very different kind of learning experience. So I have learned a lot in the last 10 years. I’ve grown a lot. It feels good to be able to say that. Yeah, It’s been a great experience. I did not realize it was 10 years, but it feels good.

KK: Was there anything you didn’t expect to experience in the last 10 years?

JW: One thing I would say is that opening a retail shop was never really my goal or what I had wanted to do. I never thought I would be hiring people or purchasing for a shop, but I would say it’s been a great experience to have done it. If I sell wholesale now to another shop, I feel like I know a little more about what the store owner might be thinking. I have had the chance to look at it from the other side.

KK: Does the name “The Imagination Spot” have an origin story?

JW: The Imagination Spot was started by both my husband and I. He’s an animator and was working on tv animation for “Tom & Jerry” then. His style of drawing was completely different from mine. Within a year, I figured out that to be a stationery brand, you cannot have too many varied styles. People need to get to know your brand and so we focused to have only one or two styles that work well together. And with his schedule, he wasn’t able to put as much time into the business. That’s when we decided that it would all be just my style of illustration. That’s when we came up with The Imagination Spot. We also wanted to teach classes and thought of it as a spot that’s full of imagination. So it wouldn’t be just the things we create, but it would also be things we teach. We wanted to keep it open as to what it could be. Which is what we kind of ended up doing at my retail shop. We had classes and workshops there as well. So it kind of worked out in that sense.

KK: What do you love most about graphic design and illustration?

JW: I would say, for me, graphic design and illustration come together when images work great with text. I like when you can treat text like images as well and text and graphics balance each other to create something.

KK: Do you feel like you always kind of need a source of inspiration when you sit down for a project? Like, okay, I need to do a coffee t-shirt design—let’s look at some images of coffee to spark the fire.

JW: Yes. I know there are some people who can just draw from memory—like my husband. For me, I have to see an image in different ways, and then see what parts work for that composition the best.

KK: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced on your creative journey?

JW: The hardest part for me has been figuring out the business aspect of it from the beginning. What goes in, and making sure there’s some profit, and just figuring out all those things has been the hardest. I know a lot more now, but I still struggle on that part.

KK: So for things like greeting cards, is it ever difficult to come up with what to say?

JW: It is because there’s so much out there, and you’re trying to make something different. It’s a big, saturated market. So it does get hard. I do look at other people’s work because I don’t want mine to look like somebody else’s.

KK: Especially in that market, where you can go on Etsy and just scroll forever.

JW: Yeah, and you can actually see a lot of people doing the exact same design. So I just want to make sure my work doesn’t look like anybody else’s.

KK: What is on the horizon for The Imagination Spot? Are there any new product lines you’re hoping to offer in the future? Or any new markets you’re going to break into?

JW: It’s kind of in the process of evolving. I am trying to streamline what The Imagination Spot will be in the future. I think I am looking to slow down a bit. Because with retail, I was working seven days a week. And it was just taking so much time. So now, I am looking to keep creating but slowing down a bit. There are expectations we give ourselves and I am trying my best not to do that. It’s also hard with social media because you see what everybody is doing and you kind of get roped into it. You get influenced by others and the more you see something, the more you think that is what I should be doing. Everyone is drawing on a tablet these days, so for the last month I was trying different apps on the tablet, but I did not enjoy that. I like to design more on my computer or laptop. And as a business, you always want to grow and grow. But I think I want to slow down and keep it a little smaller now.

KK: Well, I think I speak for everyone when I say we love having you on the Creative Crew. And I wanted to ask what is your favorite part about being on the crew?

JW: I think it’s getting to know everybody. Everybody has their own different creative strengths. So it’s kind of fun to get to see what everybody does. I think that’s my favorite part.

Check out Jasmine’s online stationery shop at www.theimaginationspot.com.