Mossery talks with Judith Joosten, owner of Splendith in the Netherlands on her thoughts on business, crafting and her favourite Mossery products!
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got started in the stationery business? How long have you been in this business?
I can’t believe it is actually already over six years since we opened our online shop! It all started when I wanted to do modern calligraphy and I could not find the supplies. And shortly after that I was searching for other craft supplies, and again I had to order them from the United Stated or elsewhere, which involved a crazy amount of shipping costs. In the Netherlands a lot of craft shops were a bit ‘old fashioned’; missing the things I wanted to use. Then I thought, if I am having this problem then probably other people also have this problem. Shortly after, the idea for the Splendith shop began. Needless to say a lot of other supplies followed shortly after.
What is the best thing about running your own business?
I love searching for the best materials and then being able to make our customers happy. We do not simply sell what is available, we make curated choices. I test the materials myself first, and I love that I can quickly decide to include something in the shop.
The range of the shop has now also grown to such an extent that we can curate combinations with materials we love. From the most beautiful sketchbooks to embroidery materials. The best thing about this is that we can facilitate creatives to really get started with specific mediums. It is a beautiful thing to see people create things with materials from our shop.
Can you share any challenges you've faced as a small business owner?
It is challenging to be competitive in the market, to ask for fair prices whilst also offering good service. We value good customer service and products, making it impossible to match some of the prices of competitors. Distribution in the Netherlands is very good, but It is hard to compete with prices in the e-commerce space, it becomes a race to the bottom. That race is not sustainable at all, and that is why we try to find our own way around this.
And an online shop is also not as flexible as it seems, sending parcels every day as a small company also means that taking time off is not that easy. Fortunately, I run the shop together with my husband, which makes us a bit more flexible than when I did it alone.
I see from your blogs that you are an artist yourself, do you have a favourite medium?
When it comes to materials, I am not a minimalist at all… whoops ;) I have months when I use certain materials and then I switch it up. At the moment I like to work with mixed media. A combination of gouache, watercolour, pencils and pastels.
You do a multitude of crafts on your site, what’s your process in selecting brands to carry? Do you test all the products first beforehand?
There isn't really a specific process, I think it's more of a creative process.
When I want to begin a personal embroidery project, I dive right into finding the materials.
What would I like to use and know about myself?
I also read countless forums and do a lot of research, then I buy many different brands to really test what is the best. Then I try to translate this process into content and materials, so that my customers have my tried and tested supplies. In the process I have made bad purchases too but that is part of the process. I also compare that with many opinions of other creatives in order to then offer a beautiful collection.
How do you balance your time creating content on social media and running a business? Do you have a team behind these wonderful videos and photos?
I think this balance will always be a challenge. Although this balance is currently very good. I am proud that I work a lot less than in the first years of the shop. Currently I have room to work in the shop, instead of in my company.
You invest a lot of time in building a company in the first few years, while you cannot yet reap the benefits. Weeks of 80 hours were typical, but I genuinely enjoyed them then. When you see the company flourish, it really gives you satisfaction. It was not something I wanted to do for the long term, but it was necessary to build the business.
Once your business grows, it can also take over your life, it consumes all your time and you don't have time for other things. During the pandemic for example, it was so incredibly busy. The shops were closed, but our online business was thriving but it was at the expense of my personal life.
Since I no longer send parcels myself, my days have become more flexible again. And that also means more room for creativity. In my case, that means creating beautiful content and sharing inspiration.
I love your tagline—"Create the things you wish existed," other than Splendith, is there something else you wish existed?
Oh yes, there are still a lot of ideas! Our next project is our little girl we are expecting in June. We would love to open an offline pop-up shop one day, and we still have a lot of ideas to
expand our assortment. Furthermore I have too many hobbies myself, so hopefully our cutting garden is going to be successful this summer :)
Describe yourself in three words.
Creative, enthusiastic, dreamer.
What drew you to Mossery?
Mossery is playful but practical. I always love it when supplies are made and developed with the artist in mind. That seems so obvious, but it is not always the case. And what I mean by this is for example, take Mossery’s sketchbook – a sketchbook is all about the paper and the binding, and being able to use it everyday so that you can make beautiful artwork. But the playful side in the form of beautiful covers is a very welcome bonus!
How do you see the stationery industry evolving in the next few years, and how do you plan to stay relevant and in trend?
Impossible to say. We never look too far ahead, but stay flexible to adapt. The loveliest thing about our shop is that we can adjust whenever we feel like it is needed. We hope to keep expanding and adjusting our assortment, to make it more complete every month.
What advice would you give someone interested in pursuing their dream to start their art and stationery business?
For a stationery business, the competition is real: so the start will be hard. You need to really focus on the core of your business, what story do you want to tell? And then think how you can serve or help your customers from that core. And: if you really want it?
Stop hesitating and just start, even if it is small. Sometimes you just have to try.
Lastly, can you share with us any personal favourite Mossery products or designs that you especially love?