October 3, 2019
Industry Profile on Amy Zhang, illustrator
Amy Zhang is an illustrator and opened her business, Amy Zhang, in January of 2018. Initially she worked as a freelance graphic designer and created wedding stationery. Since May 2018, Zhang has focused on greeting cards and gifts.
Stationery Trends caught up with Zhang in Las Vegas in July and asked her to share more about herself and her product.
ST: Please describe your offerings?
AZ: Amy Zhang specializes in pretty, witty greetings and gifts — our current product range includes greeting cards, art prints, calendars, notebooks, and enamel keychains. We also just launched our very own quarterly subscription box!
ST: There are some things that are timeless — a little black dress or the perfect martini comes to mind. What epitomizes “timeless” for you when it comes to stationery?
AZ: For me, it’s all about the experience of choosing the perfect card, writing the message inside, and even addressing the envelope. You’re taking the time to craft something special for a friend or loved one, and that makes each step thoughtful and personal — and ultimately, that’s at the core of why I love greeting cards so much.
ST: What are your three top-selling products?
AZ: Our Push It Pregnancy Card, Plant Lady Friendship Card, and Party Animal Birthday Card are perennial best-sellers!
ST: What have you learned about running a stationery and gift business that’s surprised you?
AZ: I think the biggest surprise has been how much variety you can create on what might initially feel like such a small canvas! It’s been so amazing to meet and connect with other designers along my own journey — getting to know what inspires them, admiring their unique voices and artistic styles, and experiencing such a wonderful, welcoming community of business owners.
ST: If you were a stationery product, what would you be?
AZ: I’d be a planner, for sure — I’m obsessed with lists and staying organized, and will always prefer a physical planner over digital apps. Incidentally, we also have some fun planner designs in the works for the coming year!
ST: What is the best buy under $50?
AZ: I would have to say our Old School Beets Calendar! It’s just $20, and brings together three of my very favorite things — food, puns, and classic hip hop songs. It never fails to make people laugh, and more often than not it results in a little jam sesh, too!
ST: What is your best splurge product?
AZ: At $16, our enamel keychains aren’t necessarily a huge splurge, but they’re cheeky, colorful, and full of personality — plus, they make really great gifts.
ST: What is your design process when adding a new product? What kind of research is involved?
AZ: I keep a running list of ideas and phrases that pop into my head throughout my day-to-day, so I always start by pulling from that list when I’m planning new products or putting together a new seasonal collection. By the time I’m ready to create a product, the idea is usually pretty well-developed and I tend to dive straight into the illustrations — mostly with gouache, although I do work digitally for our enamel products.
If I’m exploring a new product category, like our wire-bound wall calendars this year, I spend a lot of time researching U.S. based manufacturers, getting samples made to make sure the quality is up to our standards, and also sourcing packaging options. The best part is when all the small pieces come together — it’s so rewarding to experience the physical version of what I’ve been picturing in my head!
ST: Any tips for others in the stationery industry?
AZ: Trust yourself enough to get started, but also allow yourself the room to keep growing! I think it’s natural to want to wait until things are perfect, until you’ve “perfected” your style (it certainly was for me!) — but changing and evolving are part of the process. Plus, real-life experience and feedback are such an invaluable tool for developing your own goals for your business.