Book clubs are wonderful for so many reasons. They foster community, broaden perspectives, introduce new reads, and give us an excuse to chat about books over snacks! And in Gloria White's situation - a book club did all of the above AND it inspired a small business idea: Page Petal, a home for highly-aesthetic bookish products - most notably, handmade pressed-flower bookmarks.
In just over a year, Gloria turned a fun craft idea into her full-time business. She's changed careers, sold thousands of bookmarks named after fictional characters (Hermione Granger, Nancy Drew, and Allie Hamilton to name a few) - and has big plans for the future. Oh, and did we mention she did all of this during quarantine?
Read on to learn more about our Founder and CEO's inspiring career journey, lessons she's learned along the way, and some insight into the future of Page Petal. (Psst, there's so much good to come!)
Name: Gloria White
Job Title: CEO & Founder of Page Petal
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Favorite Book: Beach Read By Emily Henry
Favorite Flower: Red Tulips
Fictional BFF: Sarah from One Day In December by Josie Silver. I loved her zest for life!
First things first, how did you come up with the idea to start a flower-pressed bookmark business?
I had recently launched a book club and gifted my fellow members flower-pressed bookmarks. The thing was, I had to make them because I could not find highly aesthetic, affordable, bookish products. Faced with COVID lockdowns, I had to keep myself busy, so I made more flower-pressed bookmarks and started selling them to friends to raise money for a women’s shelter. When strangers began placing large orders I realized I had stumbled across an untapped market. In February 2021 I left real estate to grow Page Petal full-time.
What did you do before Page Petal?
After completing my business management degree, I pursued a career in Human Resources in various industries. However, after a few years I knew I wasn’t in my lane and it wasn’t the right fit for me. I then got my real estate license and built a successful real estate practice for almost six years. When the pandemic hit in 2020, my business was put on pause and Page Petal was born!
How did those experiences help you start a small business?
They helped in so many ways! HR taught me how to interview and what to look for in a new hire. I also learned early on the importance of setting clear expectations with your team, over-communicating, and having everything in writing. With real estate, I had to accept that there would always be new challenges, to be quick on my feet, and to be bold enough to ask for the sale. All of these skills and experiences set a great foundation for running a business, so I’m very grateful for my background. I’m still learning A TON and I’m always being thrown new challenges. You never stop learning! :)
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start their own small business or change careers?
"Have as many experiences as you can because it’ll only add to your skill set."
I say go for it! There’s no time like the present. Be humble the entire way. Expect your product or service to evolve and change over time because if you’re a smart business owner you’re listening to feedback from clients/customers and making adjustments along the way. If you’re considering changing careers, I say YES. I wish I had done more of that in my twenties! Have as many experiences as you can because it’ll only add to your skill set. Every job has given me perspective.
What are some lessons you’ve learned since starting Page Petal?
- Your product is always evolving.
- Listen to your customers because they know what they want.
- Be really kind and patient with yourself during the early stages of your business.
Like most, I want immediate gratification. Big growth. Brand recognition. Huge following. All that. But I’ve had to adjust my expectations. Because slow growth is normal and good! Anything that comes fast, comes with a lot of challenges. Time really is a gift. I can go on and on about the things I’ve been learning, but these are just a few of them.
What does a day in the life at Page Petal look like for you?
My morning routine is so important to me. I make sure to read for 30 minutes. If I feel like I have the energy to, I will work out and move my body. I then meander my way over to my office and first tackle new orders. That is priority number one. After orders are fulfilled, I strategize and think through my content whether that means responding to comments/DMs on social media or making TikToks.
"The early stages of a business are so special and I know I’ll look back and smile at these times."
I also have three girls who work out of my house and it’s so helpful. One team member is overseeing operational tasks, while the other is making the product. I’m beyond grateful for my team and their flexibility to work out of my house with me. We have a lot of fun. The early stages of a business are so special and I know I’ll look back and smile at these times.
As the founder, you do a little bit of everything. Social media, making bookmarks, customer service, editing the website, the list goes on and on. How do you take care of yourself?
My faith is my anchor. I know that I’m never given more than what I can handle and that there is a special grace for me and the season that I’m in. Also, my husband is so amazing. He knows when I am pretty much running on empty and he helps me to step away and relax. That could mean going for walks, making cocktails together, watching a favorite movie, or planning a vacation. I also started journaling and seeing a therapist again, which have both been so, so helpful.
You’ve recently celebrated your first full year of Page Petal! Tell us about a career moment you’re proud of.
There are so many! Customer reviews or mentions on social media make my heart just explode with happiness. Those are small proud moments that we always celebrate. Another really cool moment is our partnership with Fabled Book Shop in Waco TX. We are so excited about our partnership with them!
Any secrets you can share about the future of Page Petal? Where do you see the business in five years?
The future is bright for Page Petal! We’re going to branch out into apparel and some stationery products. In five years I hope that Page Petal is in major retail stores like Target and Barnes & Noble. That would be a huge win for us. I’d love to start a podcast or Clubhouse for Page Petal where we talk about books or advice on life! We’ll see but I’m hopeful!
Last question, what are you reading right now?!
My book club and I are reading Midnight Library by Matt Haig!