Franny & Franky Designs
Tell us about your business.After I had my son in February 2013, I started to feel this creeping itch to create. I would come home feeling foggy, with creative visions darting through my head, incomplete and unrealized. Finally, my husband told me, "You want to create. So create." First I wrote a book. Well, the first draft, anyway. I stuck it in a drawer, and to fill the time I'd spent writing, I decided to open an Etsy shop with a little idea I had: Making map art with a twist. Art with heart, as I like to call it. What started out as 10 or so states listed online has blossomed into more than 200 items, over 300 sales so far, and a renewed passion for life and for my career. Since debuting the original State of Love prints, we have added cities and countries, along with initials and custom neighborhood maps for most major cities. We base all of our designs on the idea of a sense of self and place: Where have you been? Who are you? We want to offer customers a way to answer that with art.
Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.I work out of my small home studio, a third bedroom in our 1950s block home in Saint Petersburg, FL. Occasionally, my tidy chaos spreads to other areas of the house -- the couch, the dining room table -- and my laptop computer follows me to bed most nights of the week, but I try to keep it all confined to a few tabletops and bookshelves in that spare bedroom. I personally print most of my digital work on an Epson printer, which uses pigment-based inks for a really brilliant print that is archival and has a long lifespan. I use acid-free papers and am always on the lookout for media that will best showcase my work. For my wedding prints, I use a printer in Eagan, MN (White House Custom Colour), chosen for their high quality, dedication to community and sustainability, and speed and affordability. Most recently, I have begun experimenting with printmaking, and am excited to roll out several hand-printed designs over the next few months.
What inspires you?Old maps, old books, vintage magazines, the smell of aged paper, graphic design of yesteryear, souvenirs, memories, old photographs, the wonder my son exhibits when he experiences something new, my interactions with weird and wonderful folks, other artists and designers, my home, nature preserves.
What makes your business stand out?Lots of people do what I do. Affordable art prints, state art -- it's been done. But my designs are unique. You can't find them anywhere else. They're high-quality -- conceived by me, designed from head to toe by me, printed on paper and using inks personally sourced and chosen by me, packaged by me, shipped by me. I do it all, and I'm proud. I'm always looking for new ways to offer the hometown enthusiast a well-designed product or decor item. Most recently, we added a line of custom city neighborhood table cards to our wedding products -- instead of sitting at Table 1, a guest would sit at Table Back Bay, or Table Wrigleyville. This is just one example of how we work to stand apart from everything else that is being offered. Our designs are personal, customizable, and unique. You can't find what we offer anywhere else -- at least nothing quite like it -- and we go out of our way to deliver an outstanding product and experience to each and every customer.
What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?If you have a passion for what you're doing and the confidence that it is excellent and that people need and want it, then don't give up. If it is important to you, it will become important to others. Stand behind your product, your mission, your materials, and your process. Find the best way to do everything, and then own that way. Nobody can tell you that you're doing it wrong, because you know that you are not. I have a tendency to become excited about something, and then burn out on it very quickly and toss it to the side. I think everybody was holding their collective breath when I started this business, expecting me to quickly grow tired of it and discard it like every other fly-by-night passion. But that didn't happen -- partially because I made a sale within a month and it just kept building by there, but also because I now know that I am doing what I have always wanted to do. If you know that, really know it, then nothing can keep you down.
What does American Made mean to you?It means a community of artists working symbiotically to produce goods with meaning. It means that my customers know where their prints come from, who designs them (from the concept to the heart icons to the printing and packaging), who they're dealing with on the other end. It means that my customers are looking for something perfect to fill a spot on their wall or to give a newly wedded friend or a loved one who loves a certain place, and that they can find that perfect item from me, sometimes in their own back yard. It means that I will never stop doing my absolutely best to make sure that those who buy from me are buying an experience -- something to hang on their wall, sure, but interactions they can fondly look back on. It means fulfilling my responsibility to not only provide a product, but to uphold the entire tradition of American Made products, services, and ideas.
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