Pinboard entrepreneur – who knew there was such a thing?
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably bought a pinboard from me in the past, or maybe you’re considering buying one in the future. Thank you for being here and being part of my journey so far. And don’t worry – I’m not about to launch into a sales pitch!
I’m writing to you today to share my story. To peep out from behind the pinboards and share my journey of becoming a full-time pinboard entrepreneur. Who knew there was such a thing?! Certainly not me when I started this side hustle back in 2016 with two young kids. It’s been an incredible five years. Pinpals is now a fully fledged business that helps support my family and allows me to share my love of pinboards with people like you.
So, if you’re curious about the person behind Pinpals, I’d love for you to grab a cuppa (or a wine!) and keep reading. It’s my hope that by sharing my story, you might feel inspired to explore more of your own passions (shameless plug: pinboards can help with that). At the very least, I hope you’ll enjoy learning about how I took the seed of an idea and grew it into something bigger.
Before I launch into my story, I want to admit something: I actually really struggle talking about Pinpals. Writing to you like this is way out of my comfort zone. Maybe it’s a female thing (thanks Patriarchy) or maybe it’s because running an online business feels a bit surreal. Like it’s not a ‘real job’. Truth is, I am winging it a lot of the time. Because that’s what entrepreneurship requires of you – a willingness to experiment and evolve. And, though I’m resisting it with every fibre of my introverted soul, it also requires a willingness to put myself out there. So, here goes. Thanks again for being here.
It all started at my cousin’s house
I often tell people I started this business as a way to dip my toes into the world of entrepreneurship. “To experiment with being an entrepreneur for the first time” are words straight from my About page! But that’s only half the story. Yes, I love the thrill of working for myself. But my love for pinboards began long before I knew what the word entrepreneurship even meant.
Throughout my childhood, I was very fortunate to be part of a large extended family. I grew up surrounded by cousins, aunts and uncles. We’re spread all around the world now, but on the rare occasions we get together we pick up straight from where we left off – with lots of love and raucous laughter.
As a kid, I spent a lot of time staying over with one of my cousins. She had an amazing pinboard full of special photographs of memories with family and friends. Oh how I coveted that pinboard! I don’t know why I didn’t ask my mum for one – she would have surely obliged – but for some reason I didn’t.
Of course, it wasn’t the actual pinboard I loved, but the sense of connection, belonging, and love it conveyed. It was something you could stop and stare at for a long time. I believe displaying happy memories can help children (and adults) to think positively, develop confidence and self-esteem, and feel a sense of connection with the world.
When I became a mum, I began looking for the perfect pinboard for my daughters. I searched high and low, but I could only find very dull and industrial looking cork boards. Not only did these not look right in my kids’ rooms, but they also didn’t stand the test of time (the cork deteriorated quickly). So, feeling frustrated but hopeful, I decided to make my own. And Pinpals was born.
From public servant to pinboard entrepreneur
Before Pinpals, I worked on legislative and regulatory change within the UK and NZ health sectors – about as far from ecommerce as you can imagine. I enjoyed my job, and it taught me many things, but ultimately, I wanted a more creative and flexible career. One that would allow me to work around my kids’ schedules and have more control over my time.
Ironically, I now work seven days a week! A story that inspires smiles of recognition from other small business owners. Working for yourself is a lot of work. My house is quite literally bursting with pinboards. I try to invite friends over when the ‘pinboard factory’ looks a little less chaotic. I’m so grateful to my family, who now find it completely normal to have pinboards all over the place.
Thankfully, my work energises me. I love the opportunity to get creative and feel incredibly privileged to have such amazing support around me. From my family and friends to some great customers, I’m really proud of the community I’ve built.
What’s next for Pinpals?
The next phase in Pinpals’ journey will be to create a dedicated workspace so I can reclaim a bit of space in my home. Plans are underway, and I hope construction will commence soon – pending lockdowns and other related challenges! Once I have more capacity, I’d love to expand, potentially employ someone, and start shipping pinboards further abroad. At the moment I only ship within New Zealand, but global reach is most definitely on my wish list. Watch this space.
I’ve also expanded the Pinpals range to include bed heads and tableware. As with my pinboards, there are shades and colours to suit all styles – whether you’re looking to make a bright and bold statement or opt for something more neutral. The bed heads and tableware are made from the same versatile, high quality felt material as the pinboards. The tableware has the added bonus of being crafted from pinboard offcuts, resulting in less waste – something that’s very important to me. I’m always looking for ways to run this business as sustainably as possible and welcome any feedback you might have.
The Pinpals promise
As the business continues to grow and evolve, my values remain the same. Here are the core principles I try to live and sell by.
Great products. My products are sustainable, durable, stylish, and of excellent quality. Some people even buy them as pieces of art!
Exceptional service. I’m only ever an email away. I’m here to answer any questions you may have, including providing tips on dimensions and colour schemes.
Local and lean. When you buy from Pinpals, you’re supporting a New Zealand owned and operated business. I source my materials in New Zealand, and the pinboards are made in Wellington.
Hope and happiness. Spreading hope and happiness is at the heart of everything I do and everything Pinpals stands for. Knowing each pinboard I sell will help someone cherish and display precious memories is my deepest ‘why’.
OK, your turn!
Thank you for reading my story so far and being part of my community. One challenge of running an online business is it can feel isolating from time to time. I’d love to learn more about you and how you came to be reading this blog – leave a comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t wait to hear from you.