We had the good fortune of connecting with Angela Oltmanns and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Angela, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I want to contribute something good to society. As I looked around and asked myself what I can offer as products in the marketplace, I kept returning to what I am drawn to as a way of living.
As long as I can remember, I have pretty much tried to create simple joys in my daily living. It is a way of life for me – living in simple daily joy helps me become a better human being. It’s stood the test of time for me (I’m counting decades here!) and I love being part of that movement that seeks to appreciate simple joys in the daily.
In other words, my online shop, Simple Daily Joy (simpledailyjoystore.com) is not just a shop offering journals, mugs, canvas prints or stickers. It’s more than that. It’s a message and a lifestyle I am advocating.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
With an online shop, I am most excited about the opportunity to partner with others who share the same vision, passions and values as I do. I enjoy showcasing and collaborating with other people from other parts of the world, whether it is from Indonesia, Netherlands, Russia, California or right here in Houston (or Texas broadly).
At the beginning my creative work was in my writings and physical artwork. Like any new immigrant to this country, the freedom to explore, discover and create appealed to me greatly. It started with very simple things like playing with acrylic paints bought from the local craft store. It was nothing complicated because I strove for simplicity and I wanted to stick to my small budget.
For a long time I shared my creativity mainly through writing even though I produced a great number of paintings. I sold an occasional homemade card but that was before many people bought things online.
So I took a break from the marketplace when I became a parent. It was an intentional move on my part – shifting my creative energy toward building a home and family. The stuff my kids taught me that I was able to learn through them and together with them – what joy! Later on, my season in public school teaching gave me more inspiring ideas and courage for this creative journey.
I was creating constantly still but just not for the marketplace. Last fall during the pandemic, I decided to go into online retailing first with an Australian company. A lot of it was turnkey in terms of turning designs into products which meant I could learn many other digital skills required for online design and retailing.
While my creative ideas and core message of living deep, simple and joyous has been constant over twenty years, I found the methods of delivering that message to the world had changed. Technology and navigating the online world was very hard for me! EXTREMELY! In the beginning, I was so determined to conquer the obstacles that I would work often till midnight.
I found the pandemic time to be an extremely useful training ground for me. I finally did battles with my fears – technology and emotions. When I first learned to pivot and acquire new digital skills, it was not easy. My emotions were out of whack too – I had to constantly look at them and even used an emotion wheel frequently to help me stay productive throughout the day.
Over time, I realized that for the business to be sustainable and enjoyable, I needed to live in simple daily joy. Today, I practice mental wellness by setting realistic goals that I could accomplish each week. I also resurrected an old skill I had from television days – interviewing people. So on occasional Friday afternoons, you’ll find me interviewing over Zoom women who are over 70 years old. Again, I intentionally picked that group because they are full of grace, unhurried, have lots to teach and still have lots of fire in their souls.
Until I get some extra capital, I’m a one woman shop this moment. This means I am responsible for executing the idea I have in my head and seeing it to full production as a product. I am also responsible for the promotional work out there as well. It’s quite a process but all part of ensuring good quality products that others would enjoy.
I realize building this online shop is a journey and I am really happy when someone recognizes the work that I do and wants to give me a shout out. (So thank you Voyage Houston and whoever that nominated my shop!)
Last Thanksgiving in 2020, I had only 7 products uploaded on my Etsy shop. Today, I keep a rotating collection of at least 120 products there. While I run tests and experiments on that platform, I now have my own webstore. Yay!
This moment, the focus is on journals. But really the customer can use these spiral notebooks for anything. Among the millennials, there is a trend for fun happy hacks toward organizing one’s life, it is called bullet journaling (bujo). I feel privileged that as I venture further into the world, I am meeting so many people and learning from so many different types of customers. As a mentor friend once put it, “You have something for everyone’s taste.” That is so true!
I hope people would check out my webstore (simpledailyjoystore.com) or Etsy shop (SimpleDailyJoy) – and find something they like either for themselves or someone in their life. Thanks for reading and dropping in!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
1) “Fresh Meet Fresh” – a healthy Taiwanese dessert shop, either in Katy or Chinatown. Great place to people watch too! https://www.meetfresh.us
2) Gong Cha
I can make a good Starbucks at home but do not know who to make these wonderful refreshing drinks.
There’s one I enjoy which is by the Houston Premium outlets in Fairfield. It is run by a new immigrant, whom I like to support as local business. (https://www.gongchausa.com/location)
3) Chick-Fil-A – any location will do!
4) Any BBQ,
Examples: Rudy’s BBQ (https://rudysbbq.com) or Spring Creek BBQ (https://www.springcreekbarbeque.com)
5) A church service.
We live in the South. Whether you are a Christian or not, it’s good to go visit a service.
Example: Community of Faith (https://cof.church)
6) A museum.
The one I recommend is free. Museum visits always spark good conversations over a meal thereafter!
Example: The Menil Collection. (https://www.menil.org)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
This should be simple to answer, right? But it’s not!
As far as people go, I would rank my husband of 28 years at the very top!! There’s never a put-down or you-can’t from him. We both enjoy pushing the envelope and trying new things. When you operate from that space, not many around you can understand your passions and dreams. Creativity takes courage and it is such a huge blessing to have someone cheering you on especially when you are being your worst critic.
Each time someone deposits a kind and tangible thing into my life – I’m given new fuel to go on. For example: my widowed mother who didn’t understand me for the LONGEST time bought the first book I published for US100. This past summer, one of my sons worked on my website for me. Another son gave me really honest feedback.
When you have people who do not understand you and eventually make a CONSCIOUS decision to root for you, that deserves a major shout out from me. Thank you for choosing to believe in me – it means a lot!
I’m most appreciative of these two countries – the US and Singapore. When I first came here as a new immigrant many years ago, I was met with open arms. I am not exactly sure how to describe this to other people who have not lived here, but there is something REALLY amazing and wonderful about the people and the land here. People are forgiving about the mistakes you make and there is such a rich spirit of generosity. All you need is faith and you’ll find that tribe of yours eventually. Nothing is complete without mentioning Singapore and my friends/family there – they help me see the interconnectedness of what I do on a global scale.
Lastly, can I just give God a shoutout? Yes, please! I doubt I would consider myself a very creative person had He not shown me that I am!
Linkedin: Angela Oltmanns
Other: Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SimpleDailyJoy (Full range of products) Webstore: simpledailyjoystore.com (currently journals and mugs)