By Catherine West
Based in Dallas, Susan Strauss ’00 launched an online company that allows clients to add a personal touch to their invitations while sticking to their budget. Popular among brides, Simply Personal offers a variety of colors, designs, and fonts that allow their invitations to reflect their personality. Clients can quickly design their invitations from the comfort of their own homes and personalize on a budget with a professional look, making this business popular by today’s brides and event planners.
How did Simply Personal begin?
During college and the few years that followed, I was in nearly eighteen weddings. I was constantly receiving invitations that lacked color and, most of all, personality. In 1998, it was ‘normal’ to send an ivory invitation with black text without portraying anything about the couple’s personality or color scheme for their event. The last two years in college and the following five years as a professional event planner in Dallas, I kept a journal of ideas and company names. My general focus was to create custom invitations using color, design, presentation, and personality — to give guests a sneak peak about their event. In January 2005, Simply Personal was launched.
What is the mission of Simply Personal?
Simply Personal is passionate about detail, diligent to please, and ambitious about creating new things. The heart of Simply Personal is to provide personal attention and service to its clients, and the company is whole-heartedly dedicated to delivering creative solutions and exceptional client service. The six core values that are the epicenter guide to every interaction — are value, service, integrity, innovation, embracing challenges, and teamwork.
Why did you decide to make Simply Personal an online company?
When the economy worsened in 2008, I began to strategize how to protect high-quality products while being able to offer them to brides of all budgets, without sacrificing the personal attention every bride wishes to receive during her invitation process. I took my sales approach online and lowered the cost to give each bride an opportunity to receive a custom invitation for a price that fit her budget.
How has Simply Personal expanded?
In May 2011, simplypersonal.com launched in New York City at the National Stationery Show. Simply Personal has evolved to be the bridge between the online world and the retailer/planner. We now have eighty-eight retailers and planners representing simplypersonal.com.
What is the process of ordering from Simply Personal?
Step 1: Pick two colors (out of seventy-seven colors)
Step 2: Pick your design
Step 3: Select the items you need
Step 4: Enter your content and select your fonts (optional)
Step 5: Send to nearby dealer to receive quote and/or set an appointment.
Every design is available in flat printing, thermography, and letterpress printing. Based on the budget and overall style, the dealer will help the customer select which printing option is the best fit. You can also add pocket folders, embellish with rhinestones and ribbon, add backing, and more, with your dealer.
What has been the most exciting aspect of running a business?
I love the freedom to use all my gifts and talents every day. I thoroughly enjoy building the company by creating new strategies and procedures along with new designs and products. Also, the majority of my best ideas come late at night, so having the flexibility to manage my own schedule has been wonderful.
What are your future hopes for Simply Personal?
My hope is to create more steady jobs. Our focus is retailers and wedding and event planners; therefore, the more we grow and expand innovation, the more they will grow as well.
Who are your biggest supporters?
My parents have listened to every single idea (good and bad) my entire life. I am the risk taker in my family, and I would not be where I am today without their support. I have also surrounded myself with incredible employees that have stuck by me since day one. I am forever grateful for Brian Lawrence, the former vice president of marketing for Encore Studios, who challenged and helped us become a national company. Finally, God has opened the doors of opportunity and given me my gifts and passion to serve and love others.