Conversations with Creatives: Caroline Droke of Shake the Love

Caroline-Droke-Shake-the-LoveToday I’m excited to introduce a new series on the blog called “Conversations with Creatives.” I will feature inspiring creative entrepreneurs and their stories. I love learning about what others are doing with their dreams and talents and am curious about their process and work. We’ll kick things off with a Q&A with my dear friend Caroline Droke of Shake The Love card shop. We go way back to our high school days when creativity meant improv skits in Theater class and making pinhole cameras in Photography class. When I heard about her new venture, I just had to have here on the blog to share shake the love. Enjoy!

Hi Caroline! Tell us a little bit about yourself. By day I am an associate designer for a baby clothing brand, and by night I am a self-employed stationery designer. I live with my husband Brad in a sunny apartment in Queens, NYC. Brad and I designed our wedding invitation together with some help from an illustrator friend. I had so much fun with that project that I decided to try designing a line of greeting cards, and in December 2014 I launched Shake the Love.

wonderful bday3How did you come up with the name Shake The Love? My shop name Shake the Love came from a tradition that started with my old roommates at our Sunday suppers. Every Sunday evening the four of us would cook together and then gather around the dinner table. Before we ate we always held hands to say grace, and before we let go we would give each others hands a little jiggle to "shake the love" around the table. I want the products I'm designing to evoke that same kind of warmth and love that I felt in that apartment. Those girls are sweet and caring, and our time living together was truly magical.

Who is your ideal customer? My cards and prints are for anyone who loves spreading joy to the people around them! I like to incorporate bright colors and cheerful patterns to match with the positive message of the products. In the age of texting and tweeting, its still wonderful to receive an actual card from someone you love.

happyday sketch What made the biggest difference in starting out your business? The support of my husband, friends and family has made a big difference in my success as I start out with this new project. I have so many wonderful people encouraging me and supporting my business.

Where do you find your inspiration? I find ideas in art, fashion, and really all over the place. I might see lettering I like on a restaurant storefront or a color combination on a pillow in a catalogue. I love vibrant color combinations, which is evident in my products as well as my closet. The messages in my products truly come from my heart. In this first year, I've been following the calendar with my new designs- New Years, Valentines, then a first anniversary card to give to my husband on March 15th. The card says "Happy 365 days of awesome", which is absolutely how I feel about our first year of marriage. I am so blessed to have his love and support. I've also designed some wall art of scripture verses and hymn lyrics that inspire me.

happy365_1What's a big win you've experienced so far? One major success for me was a feature in an article on USAToday. One card in my shop is for Galentine's Day- a holiday that was invented on the tv show Parks and Recreation, and has really taken off as a way to celebrate your lady friends the day before Valentine's Day. That card sold more copies than anything else I've made to date and the USAToday feature brought a lot of new traffic to my shop.

What is a lesson you learned from your experience? Something I've learned is that I can't focus on changing buyers' behavior, I need to focus on improving myself. When traffic and sales are down, that doesn't mean my productivity takes a dive. I have set my own timeline and goals, and I'm constantly looking for ways to enhance my business- new products, better photos, competitor research, more engagement on social media. I take both failures and successes as a challenge for improvement.

valentine sketchesWhat do you think a creative's greatest strength is? Weakness? For me personally, I would say being creative allows me to problem solve in creative ways and see new opportunities. My success on Etsy is dependent on my ability to stand out by creating new and unique products. My greatest weakness might be focus- I tend to skip around between projects instead of taking them one at a time. Sometimes that's not a bad thing though, if I'm having trouble with one thing its good to move to something else.

What's next for you and Shake The Love? I'm looking forward to lots of new additions to my product line. Coming up soon I'll be adding customizable party invitations to the shop for baby showers and bridal showers. I've also been commissioned to design a wedding invitation! I'm so excited to create something wonderful for their special day.

loveneverfails2Thank you, Caroline, for sharing your story!  Check out Shake the Love that has stationary products that are as colorful, thoughtful, and fun as the designer!

Shake the Love,

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If you found this conversation interesting, share it with your friends using the buttons below!  If you know an inspiring creative entrepreneur whose story can bless others, email me and let me know, would love to chat with them!