Dream For Others notebooks: the story, the collaboration, the sale

I have always loved buying beautiful notebooks, pens that write smoothly, post-it notes and other fun stationery bits and pieces. 

When I originally started my business back in 2014, I had a feeling that this love of stationery would lead to me creating a line of my own – but at the time, I had thought that the stationery line would have a health, wellness or organisation focus. 

I would pursue the idea of creating and selling planners that would help people on their wellness journey, but for one reason or another, it just never worked out. I’d be short of funds. I’d struggle to find an available designer that aligned with my vision for them. I’d struggle to find a printer who could do what I specifically wanted. Or another business owner would create a product that I thought was so cool that I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel – I could just use and shout out to their product instead!

The Story…

So, my little idea of creating stationery would return to the Some Day List. I bet you have a ‘Some Day List too right – a list of those ideas or things you might do one day when you have the money, vision, time or inclination to actually follow through and make it happen?

As this idea remained on my Some Day List, I would continue to buy stationary from other folk – not just for myself, but for my coaching clients too. Every client would receive a notebook and pen, and usually a planner of some sort (e.g., my business coaching clients would get Natalie MacNeil’s Conquer Your Year and The Conquer Kit), along with their welcome pack.

One day, when I was looking at my expenses, I realised I spent a ridiculous amount of money on A5 notebooks for my clients and suddenly realised that this simple little item was perhaps what I was destined to create – not just for my clients, but for anyone else who might love them too.

By this time in my business journey, my message and work had evolved significantly – I was doing less work in the health space and more work in the business / purpose / self care / social change space. I had been interviewing incredible folk on the Dream For Others podcast and realised that the learnings from these interviews might become the focus of the stationery instead. 

The Collaboration…

Upon making this realisation, everything very quickly fell into place without me even seeking it out. When I stopped trying so hard to find the right people and to make it work, the right people seemed to find me.

1. Inspirationery – Eco-Friendly Printer + Social Enteprise

I reached out to Cassie Dewar the founder of the social enterprise Inspirationery to interview her on the Dream For Others podcast about their wonderful work and mission. Upon doing this, I also realised that Inspirationery were the perfect people to collaborate with in creating and printing the notebooks.

They are a stationery label that is specifically designed to help you make your mark in the world. Their products are eco-friendly, ethically printed and 50% of their profits go to supporting women and girls. When looking through their website, and talking to Cassie on the podcast, I realised that our values were wonderfully aligned – she was all about using her platform and resources to dream for others and create social change. It was the perfect match. (Note: If you’re thinking of getting any printing done, check Inspirationery out here – they are amazing. Check out their IMPACT page to learn more about how they try to make an impact on the world through their work and products.)

2. Lee Simmons – Graphic Designer

At the time, I had just finished working with a wonderful client who was a graphic designer and had found a friendship forming. We shared many similar values and Lee loved working for social enterprises, non-profits and those who were trying to make a difference in the world. The glimpses of her work that I saw through our time working together were also stunning and I suddenly realised that she might be the perfect designer for the project.

When I floated this idea with her, she was so excited and oh what a joy it was to work with her. From the very beginning she understood exactly what I wanted and the notebooks ended up being even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. (Note: If you’re looking for a graphic designer, please consider getting a quote from Lee. Since creating these notebooks, she has also helped me with visual identity work, creating digital workbooks and more. She’s sure got talent! You can find her here.)

3. Jane Illustrates – Illustrator 

Earlier in my business life, I had engaged Jane to create a print for me picturing two women lying on a picnic rug dreaming together. I wanted to send it to my newsletter subscribers as a surprise thank you gift for being part of my exclusive email community. The illustration was so beautiful, that at the time I paid extra to purchase the rights to use the image in other contexts. I had a feeling that it would be repurposed into something else – even though at the time I had no idea what that would be.

Lee ended up using the illustration of the women on one of the notebook cover designs and also used elements from the illustration (e.g., the flowers) to bring together the other designs too. (Note: You can find Jane here if you’d like to engage her to do an illustration for you too.)

4. Cassie Mendoza-Jones – Kinesiologist + Business Alignment Coach

When we were creating the notebooks, I wanted one of the designs to contain one of my favourite quotes by Shiza Shahid (CEO of The Malala Fund):

“There are no superheroes. There is just us. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

I reached out to The Malala Fund to get permission to use the quote, but did not hear back from them. I wanted permission before doing so, and found myself a little stuck about what to do next.

In a kinesiology session with Cassie Mendoza Jones that I had booked before knowing I’d have this conundrum I brought it up and she said to me something along the lines of “Use one of your own quotes! You say heaps of things that are quotable and worthy of being on that cover.”

Cass then went to my website, opened my About page and said “this is it”: 

“When you dream for others, the axis shifts. It shifts from ME to WE, from I to US.”

Bingo. Without even trying or seeking it out, I suddenly had the quote we needed. Thanks Cass! (Note: If you ever feel stuck on like ANYTHING, book in a session with Cass. Seriously. You can find her here. I also did an interview with her on my blog here.)

5. Freethinker Co – Communications Consultant

Now the quote that Cass had chosen was one that I had not written on my own – it had been crafted in a collaboration with Leah Davies from Freethinker Co when she was helping me write my website copy. 

Leah had also been featured on the Dream For Others podcast to talk about the power of using words in changing the world. It felt like such a beautiful alignment to bring Leah into the collaboration of the Dream For Others notebooks in this way.

(Note: If you need a copywriter, writing coach, or communications consultant, check out Leahs work here. We have worked on a number of projects together now and she’s always done a wonderful job.)

6. Renee Bell – Photographer

When Lee was designing the notebooks, she told me that photography would be important. She told me that in addition to beautiful flat lay images, lifestyle images of people using the notebooks, including myself in workshops or with clients, would be critical. 

My budget had run out and I didn’t think I’d be able to do any of this in the short-term. Then before I knew it, Renee Bell who took my branding photos when I first launched my website, sent me an email saying she was hoping break into doing more product photography and would I be open to letting her take some shots of my notebooks? All I had to do was send her a box of notebooks and credit her work when using the photos. I thanked my lucky stars and sent a box her way. 

The beautiful photos of the notebooks on this page are thanks to Renee.

(Note: Please reach out to Renee for a quote if you want branding, event or product photos done. I promise she is worth every penny!) 

The Sale…

So that is the story of how these beautifully designed, ethically made, eco-friendly and heart-centred notebooks came to be. I hope that if there is a project on your Some Day List right now that it will come to life in it’s own time as this one did for me. I hope that you too will feel proud and in awe of the final product. 

Thank you for reading this story and if you’ve made it all the way to the end and would like to buy some of these notebooks, you can find them here. They would make a great gift not only for yourself, but for Mother’s Day, to clients or colleagues or treasured loved ones. In fact, at the time of publishing this post, I have a promotion running – buy two notebooks, get one notebook free – so feel free to make use of that if you choose. Simply write which notebook you would like for free in the Order Notes. Offer expires at the end of May 2018.

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  • Thanks for sharing all of this. One of your books hosts all of my poems I have been writing and when it is filled up I’m actually going to publish my poems as a book 🙂 So your notebooks hold some special dreams indeed.

    • Oh my gosh Diana, that is so special. Thank you so much for sharing this with me. You’ve made my week. I can’t wait to red the book when it’s ready. xx