Planner Girl Interview: The Paper Llama Kelli Ramirez
Kelli Ramirez, creator and owner of The Paper Llama Etsy shop and Youtube channel, has recently made her way into my life by way of an almost obsessive love for all-things planning and planner related. I know it may sound silly to some, but this community is huge, from Twitter accounts to Instagram accounts and everything in between, planners are IT! Planner nerds everywhere unite. I am in the minor leagues of planning, but Kelli is a player for the majors, and it takes a lot to keep up with this lifestyle. In other words, it takes a lot of planning to be a planner. Let’s check out how Kelli keeps it all in order!
Tell me a little about yourself?
Hi! I’m Kelli and I’m 26. I was born and raised in southern California but now reside in south-east Nebraska where I live with my husband Rafael and our four-year-old son Rafi. I don’t consider myself to be any more interesting than the average person. I mean, I have a sick obsession for tacos and Ancient Aliens, but who doesn’t?
What got you into planning?
It’s hard for me to pinpoint any one certain thing that got me into planning since I’ve been doing at least some form of planning pretty much since I could read and write. But if I had to narrow it down I would say that I have always craved a way for me to give my life some sort of order. I’ve always been obsessed with organizing things (as a child I would constantly reorganize my bedroom and organize the bookcase and movie shelves by color, author, title etc. Just because it gave me a sense of peace and calm) and making lists ( to-do lists, wish lists, lists of things I want to do and places I wanted to go. You name it and I had made a list for it). I would have to say that those same motivations are what keep me planning to this day.
What was your first planner?
My very first planner ever was a silver patent-leather personal-sized planner with rainbow glitter that I believe was actually geared towards children. It was gorgeous and a part of me is really sad that I don’t still have it. However, after graduating high school I didn’t really use a planner I just made lists in a notebook until about four years ago. After my son was born I was finding that I was more busy than ever and just lists wasn’t cutting it. I actually bought a cheap $4.00 planner from Walmart and used washi tape and stickers to decorate it well before I even discovered “pretty planning” was a thing.
How many planners do you utilize at any given time?
Currently, I use six different planners consistently and for all different purposes. I have one to track my fitness journey, two for memory planning, one for my Etsy shop and Youtube channel, one for day-to-day tasks and one that is strictly paper and pen where I record little memories and things I did each day so that I can go back and record them in a more visually appealing way later.
What made you start an Etsy shop?
I was sitting at home one day decorating my planner with my usual washi and scrapbook stickers and watching Youtube videos while my husband and I talked about how I could take my passion for creating and my graphic design skills and turn it into a way for me to work from home. While we were brainstorming I must have mentioned something about my planner to him. I can’t for the life of me remember what it was, but he then asked me a question about it. Which again I cant remember. What I do remember is getting on Youtube and searching for the answer when I came across a plethora of plan with me videos that I had never known existed before. I must have spent hours watching them and then I started to research all of the materials and planners they were using (I spent several hours researching) and something in me just clicked. I showed my husband everything and we both knew this was it. It’s difficult to explain and it sounds incredibly cheesy but we just both knew this what I was meant to be doing. That same day I purchased a new printer, bought my first Erin Condren life planner and my first Happy Planner. Saying it all now it sounds insane but that’s what jump-started this entire adventure and I’ve never looked back.
How hard was it to gain a following on your Youtube channel and your Etsy shop?
It took quite a while for me to gain regular customers and viewers. I started selling planner stickers in my shop in September of 2016 and between then and December 2016 I think I made maybe 10 sales. It wasn’t until near Christmas time that I really started to gain a bit of traction. I started my Youtube channel around the same time and I had reached 200 subscribers within two months and it has grown slowly but continuously since then. Growing my Youtube channel was significantly easier. I’d say what helped was uploading content regularly and using tags and titles appropriately and creatively.
Did you have a mentor when starting your business?
I’d say the closest thing to a mentor that I had was the wonderful women I found on Youtube that were already creating and using planner stickers. I don’t know any of them personally, unfortunately. I’m not always able to meet the deadlines I set for myself and that’s difficult for me to accept sometimes but it is what it is and I get a little better at it each day.
What has been your biggest challenge with being a planner girl with a shop and Youtube channel?
My biggest challenge has definitely been balancing my work schedule with my crazy busy life. Working from home and not having a separate work location means that often times I work very late at night once my son is asleep or sometimes even struggling to keep him occupied in my office so that I can squeeze a few minutes of work in.
How did you come up with the name The Paper Llama?
I actually came up with the name while doing homework for an art class in college. The assignment was to find an image on the internet and reconstruct it into something that could be used for a logo and to come up with a business name to go with it. I’ve always loved llamas and what they symbolize so I searched for llama images. The one I found was actually a picture of an origami llama someone had folded. The Paper Llama sounded good so I went with it.
What are your goals for 2018?
My main goal for next year is to grow my business enough to be able to branch out from Etsy into my own e-commerce site and be able to start offering a wider variety of planner and crafty goodness.
Are you looking forward to any of the new planner releases?
I think that I am most excited for all of the new Happy Planner releases for the 2018 planners. In my opinion, they are the most versatile, innovative and cost-effective mid-sized planners on the market right now, and their 2018 line has so much variety it’s ridiculous! I’m not affiliated with them at all I’m just crazy obsessed. They recently came out with a paper punch that allows you to punch out a piece of paper or photo to fit perfectly in the full boxes… genius! It’s such a simple concept ( I mean it’s literally just a rectangle punch), but it has so many possibilities and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I love that planning has taken such a front seat in the crafting world. It’s so much fun watching all the innovative ways companies have made such a functional hobby appealing to so many different types of people.
What advice can you give to someone who wants to start their own planner business?
I have learned so much throughout the last year and a half because I started all of this essentially on a whim and with no prior business experience that I could probably fill a book. I’m not great at explaining things so giving advice isn’t my forte but I would have to say there are a few things that are important for someone to know if they are thinking about starting a planner-related business. First, be patient. Don’t get discouraged if your business doesn’t take off like a rocket right away. It may take quite a bit of time but if it’s something you truly believe in and are passionate about then it’s worth it. Second, use social media to your advantage. If you can, make a Youtube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and even a blog and post about your business regularly. The more you put your business out there the more likely it is to be seen and social media is free advertising! My third piece of advice may be the most important. Have a game plan! Starting a new business is really exciting and it can be tempting to just start putting up everything you make as soon as you make it especially with how easy Etsy makes it, and because you probably have a million ideas of things you want to do, but it’s important to edit down your ideas. Narrowing your focus and even creating your own unique spin on things will help both you and your consumer to better understand what your shop is all about.