Mentor Monday with Kelsey Baldwin

Mentor Monday - Paper+Oats

I am incredibly excited to introduce you to one of my Stationery Academy buddies, Kelsey Baldwin of Paper + Oats. Not only did Kelsey and I meet in Phoenix, but we’re in a group that meets weekly to hold each other capable to achieve our goals. And in addition to all of that, I’ve just completed her new e-course that launches tomorrow called The InDesign Field Guide and loved everything about it! Kelsey is someone who I admire not only in the paper industry but also in life and I’m honored to get to share some insight and advice from her today.

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Paper and Oats - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

What’s the inspiration behind Paper + Oats?

Paper + Oats is part branding + design for digital products and part online shop selling printable planners + organizers. The graphic design side of my business was inspired by the shift in current trends to start sharing your knowledge online via online courses, e-book, and other digital products. I love designing these types of projects and realized there was a gap in the industry for designers specializing in this type of design. I hate it when I see entrepreneurs work so hard to write and build their digital product, but the outside doesn’t match the hard work they’ve put into the inside. I love helping them bring life to the outside of their product. It builds trust with their customers and can lead to more eyes on their product. The organization printables side of Paper + Oats was inspired by my long-time love affair with organization and planning 🙂 I love a well-designed checklist or planner and couldn’t find the style I was wanting for my own household needs, so I started designing + selling my own organizational printables on Etsy and they took off! They’re still a big foundation for my business today.

Kelsey Baldwin - Paper and Oats

You have a unique story which requires a lot of balance between your work and your daughter. Have you found anything that works to help you balance it all? Do you have any tips for us?

I’m a single mom to a wild one-year-old who keeps me on my toes 🙂 Everyday is a challenge to balance being a mom and being a business owner, but I’m definitely blessed with a great little girl who does a pretty good job of letting me do both! I’ve found we both do better with a routine. Kids love routines, so we’ve tried to stick to a pretty set schedule during the week for waking up, eating, napping, snacking, and playing. She’s great at playing independently, so while she’s awake I’ll take some time answering emails and doing small tasks that don’t require much concentration. But when she naps and after bedtime is when I do my heavy lifting 🙂 That’s when I tackle more difficult tasks and feel the most productive. I’m a night owl, so I’m usually up until midnight or 1am working. Some moms prefer to get up early and work while the kids are still sleeping – that works too! Finding a good routine that works for you and your kids can help keep everyone on track and hopefully feeling a little more balanced. Of course, we all still have days when we lose the balance in one direction or the other — and that’s ok! Have your routine, but also learn to be flexible and just go with the flow sometimes 🙂 Life of a mompreneur!

What three things must you have/do every day?

I need just one cup of coffee every morning. I can’t live without my Asana calendar + task lists. And I have to shut my computer and be totally present with my little one at least once a day! Not changing a diaper or feeding her, but just sitting and playing 🙂

If you were going to give someone just starting a business some advice, what would it be?

I always have one main piece of advice — look at what everyone else is doing, and do it differently! There are probably a million other people doing the exact same work you do, so find a way to stand out and make yourself memorable.

What has surprised you the most about being an entrepreneur?

I’ve been surprised how lonely it can be sometimes. I work from home obviously, so not a lot of adult interaction happening sometimes! I’ve found it really important to seek out communities of people who truly get what you do. I’m in an accountability group with Jennifer and 2 other ladies from Stationery Academy and we call each other weekly to talk goals and planning. I love having that connection and consistent interaction with other creatives! I am also in a mastermind group with a couple other designers and we bounce ideas off each other almost daily – they’ve been a huge help in moving my business forward and staying innovative. Attending conferences, finding small groups like these, or even interacting in business Facebook groups or in-person with locals can keep your sanity when you start to feel isolated.

The InDesign Field Guide - Paper and Oats

There is a plethora of learning opportunities out there and I know you’re launching one such course tomorrow. What makes The InDesign Field Guide different and who is the course made for?

The InDesign Field Guide is my first online course and I’m SO excited (and equally nervous!) to launch it tomorrow! I’ve been working on this since May, so it feels a bit like birthing a child – but with less pain 🙂 INDFG will teach you the ins + outs of Adobe InDesign so you can start using the software like a pro for your business or for client work. The course will offer video tutorials and PDF resources, but there are two other big parts that are my favorites and make my course a bit different from the sea of other online courses out there right now.

The first is the course project – this will be a real-life tangible project that students will work on throughout the entire course. You’ll practice on it and learn how tools apply in a real setting, and then you’ll finish the course with a complete, finished document that you can start using in your business right away. My other favorite part of the course are the demonstration videos. These are screenshare videos that show my designing a page layout from start to finish – so you can get in my head a little, see how I make design decisions, and watch a page come together from pasted text to a finished design.

The course launches tomorrow (October 27) and it will only be open for registration for about a week! Registration ends November 4, so you can head to to read all the details about the course and grab your seat before the deadline. While the registration window is limited, it is a self-paced course, so you’ll have access to all the lessons right away and can work through it at your own pace.

Who do you admire and keep up with in the business? Any mentors, groups, podcasts, etc that you recommend we keep up with?

I love following along with Elle + Company, ByRegina, Spruce Rd, and Phyllis Sa, and lately I’m into Caroline Kelso, Jason Zook, Bryan Harris and Paul Jarvis. I listen to a lot of podcasts while I work – my favorites are How Did You Get Into That, Startup, Being Boss, Smart Passive Income, RadioLab, This American Life, and 99% Invisible. On Facebook, I have to shout out to the best creative entrepreneur group around – Savvy Business Owners, hosted by Heather Crabtree 🙂

Kelsey Baldwin - Paper and Oats - Mentor Monday - Tales of a Peanut

8. How can we keep up with you online?

Website | InDesign Field Guide | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest

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Kelsey Baldwin is the owner and designer behind Paper + Oats, where she helps other creative entrepreneurs design + brand their digital products, e-books, and online courses. Kelsey has been a designer for nearly a decade, working both for agencies and as a freelancer, and loves helping small businesses put their best foot forward. She’s a single mom to a wild-haired 1-year-old girl, and just moved to Nashville, TN.

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I told you at the beginning how much I got out of The InDesign Field Guide. I think InDesign is going to play an essential part of my business over the next few years. Why don’t you head on over to Kelsey’s page about the course and check it out!

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