We had the good fortune of connecting with Vallan Bledsoe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vallan, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I worked as a graphic designer after college until my daughter was born in 2011. Daycare was so expensive and my pay was so little even with a collage degree that it didn’t make sense to continue working. So I quit to become a stay at home mom.
In 2013, after my daughter was a few years old, I decided I wanted to do something for myself. I loved staying home with my daughter… but I also loved working. So I decided to open my own business.
I originally started out making invitations, both print and online versions, but I soon figured out that wasn’t my true passion. I was getting my hair colored and saw my hair stylist’s book sitting there and thought to myself that the appointment book they were all using were plain and boring. So I got an idea to design my own planner. After all, I am a graphic designer. And I knew that other stylists would love a cute, chic book.
I didn’t know anything about making a planner much less what I would need to print and put them together. I had an idea of what kind of printer I would like to use since working at an ad agency after college so I decided to take a leap of faith and invest in the right equipment and supplies. And that’s how KBD Graphics was started.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My planners and appointment books are all hand made by myself alone. I personally design every page of the book and choose every single background that I use. My goal is to create the cutest, most chic book out there so my clients don’t have just a boring, plain book.
I also can customize each planner specifically for each client and their business. I love when a client tells me that they have been searching for something like what I offer for years and are so happy they finally found me. That brings me so much joy!
My books are completely different from others that are found online. They are designed to help organize finances and to help make tax season easier.
It was not easy to get to where I am now. I’ve been designing and printing planners since 2014. At first, I couldn’t afford the equipment that I truly wanted. But over time, I’ve been able to work my booty off and continue to grow my client base.
At first my family didn’t believe that my books would sell. My husband told me that it was a horrible idea. My parents didn’t believe that my business was a “real business” and would instead send job listings each day in hopes that I would go back to work “at a real company.” I was determined to prove them all wrong. So I worked. And worked. And finally after a few years, I was making MORE than what I was making working an 8-5 job Monday to Friday at a local advertising agency. Over the years, my parent’s realized that my business actually was successful… and the job listings stopped coming. My husband actually apologized for doubting me.
It hasn’t been easy to get my business to where it is now, but it was worth it all. I get to work from home, be my own boss, all while still being able to be there for my daughter. I don’t have to miss school functions. I get to go on her field trips. I get to raise her myself instead of having her go to daycare.
I also realized over time that your business is not for everyone… and that THAT is actually okay. At first, I wanted to please everyone. I wanted to set my prices so they were super low and affordable. I was killing myself building books for no pay. So one day, I woke up and decided that I needed to set my own self worth. I realized that my books sold themselves. People would pay for the quality of them. And the ones who didn’t want to, would go elsewhere. And guess what… that’s okay! I’ve had clients who have bought books, didn’t come back because they thought the prices were too high, but then immediately came back and paid a rush fee because the cheaper books was delivered and they hated it.
Another lesson over time was finding my supplies and sticking to them. It took forever to personally choose each paper from a paper mill store. The ink I used. The printers I purchased. The lamination and lamination film. All of my equipment and supplies that I use to make each book was thoroughly sourced. I refuse to put my name onto a cheaply made product. And I stand behind my brand.
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?
I’m living in Nacogdoches which is definitely NOT a large city at all. We do have a few hidden gems though! One of my favorite spots to go is downtown Nacogdoches. We have the cutest little antique shops and my favorite little Diner is located along the old brick streets. Dolli’s Diner is a MUST when visiting Nacogdoches!
Another cute little spot is downtown as well. The Fredonia Hotel has the cutest little diner as well along with a really nice Steak House. You can eat inside or dine on the outdoor patio by the pool.
There’s truly not much to do around the town. For the most part, we typically just get together to relax and hang out at a friends house. I personally don’t have much time to do anything other than work, take my daughter to and from school and then to her competitive cheer gym!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would love to give a shoutout to my family and friends for always supporting me in my crazy adventures. Without their support, I wouldn’t have the motivation to continue what I’m doing.
I would also say that if it wasn’t for my High School Journalism teacher, I wouldn’t have actually went into Graphic Design in college. Participating on my high school yearbook was the motivation for deciding what I wanted to do as my profession after college.