523 Shayna Norwood:
Entrepreneurship is not for the faint-hearted – it will surely trigger our fears, anxieties and any lingering doubts – subconscious or otherwise – about our worthiness of success.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur w ho has overcome anxiety to prosper in life and business.
Shayna Norwood started out in the art world as a visual artist, and quickly came to find something was missing for her. So she took all her artistic skills and jumped into business – founding her company, Steel Petal Press in 2011 to share beauty and humor with the world through her collection of handmade stationery.
Shayna Norwood started out professionally trained visual artist with a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute and started work in letterpress printing in 2004. It wasn’t for her, and she knew she had to take her talent and do something with it in the business world.
Her company Steel Petal Press has been featured in Proof to Product, Pop Sugar, BuzzFeed, Brit + Co, Refinery29, Southern Bride, Paper Crave, Oh So Beautiful Paper, Stationery Trends, Style Me Pretty, Brides, Inside Weddings, The Knot, Apartment Therapy, CBS News, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times and more.
Today we talk about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, how to handle all the anxieties and fears along the way, and why it’s vital to remember you are not alone – and need supportive people around you where you can be open about how you feel and ask for help.
And you’ll want to take out your phone and download the Podopolo app too as you listen to this episode, so you can join the conversation with me and Shayna. Please share if you can how you handle anxiety when it comes up in your business and your life.
Today we talk about how best to handle our fears and anxieties, how to build a supportive community around you – and what it takes to turn a skill, craft or talent into a prospering business.
Let’s put on our Wings with the inspiring Shayna Norwood.
Melinda Wittstock: Shayna, welcome to Wings.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah, thanks so much for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I love to start with the origin story. What was it that made you launch your business?
Shayna Norwood: I went to art school. I started off as a painting major and realized that wasn’t for me. I took some time off and then went back to school for interdisciplinary art, which is more telling a story through multiple mediums instead of focusing on one specific craft. While I was there, I was introduced to bulk and paper art. Fast forward a few years later, I go to school, I finish my BFA, I go to get my MFA, I realize the art world isn’t for me, but I have some of these skills which is telling a story through text and imagery and letter press printing. I know that one of the things that people do as a vocation through letter press printing is greeting cards. I kind of started printing greeting cards while I was in grad school as a side thing.
Shayna Norwood: Then in 2008, was laid off of my job and decided to try and make it a thing from there. Then it just kept working and going. It was kind of a by happenstance that I had an art degree and wasn’t sure what to do with it. So I started a greeting card company and haven’t looked back.
Melinda Wittstock: I find it curious that so many women go into business after, I don’t know, kind of doing something, having a vocation or having a career or learning a skill, getting really good at it and then just, “Nah, you know what? I’m going to take all of this and create my own thing.” Were you very entrepreneurial as a kid or was this kind of a later stage kind of realization that you wanted your own business?
Shayna Norwood: Let’s see. I wouldn’t say I specifically knew I wanted to run my own business, but I always knew that I was more self-motivated than working under other people’s rules and guidelines. I know I’ve always been like that. Anytime I had an idea I was like, “I’m going to start something with this,” but it was never like, “I’m going to start a business.” It was more like I wanted to start an arts collective and I wanted to throw parties and I wanted to get people together to talk about social issues and I wanted to start a community garden. So, whenever I had an idea, I was always self-motivated to start something on my own, but it was never specifically business oriented. It just kind of translated to that naturally.
Melinda Wittstock: Shayna, what surprised you the most? When you said, “Okay, right. I’m just going to open up for business. I’m going to start this company,” what was the thing that surprised you most about that startup experience?
Shayna Norwood: I would say that because it was kind of a gradual leaning into it, there weren’t any big surprises necessarily because it wasn’t just like I took a leap. It was like I’m going to do a little bit of this. Then also, I’m a go getter, but I’m also very cautious and deliberate with how I do things because I know how risky it can be. I kind of felt like I was wading into the water, inch by inch, in which case I could always kind of see what would be coming ahead of me
Melinda Wittstock: So you kind of took your time. What was the biggest challenge that you faced as you got going?
Shayna Norwood: In the beginning, it was time for sure. The amount of time that I dedicated to working on these things, there was not enough hours in the day. I would work 12 hour days and I would also be up half the night and then I would do that for six or seven days in a row. I think I still have the same issue now with staffing. Maybe I’m not doing all the work, but I don’t have enough man power to do all the work because it is kind of this push and pull up. You don’t have all these extra resources. You don’t want to be overstaffed because you might not be able to afford everything, but then at the same time, maybe with the ebb and flow of business, you’re like, “It’s feast or famine.” I feel like it’s kind of always been balancing the resources you have with the amount of time and people you have to do things.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. We all have business challenges and things, right? But we have to show up. Entrepreneurs have to show up with a different kind of attitude in a way. There’s so many things that test us. I joke on this podcast that if you want therapy, just become an entrepreneur because it’s going to bring up all your stuff. Right? [crosstalk 00:13:29] Everything, right? So what’s that experience been like for you?
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. So for me specifically, I have definitely struggled with anxiety issues my whole life and it was something that before being an entrepreneur and running my own business, I was always able to take the time off that I needed if I was going through a rough patch or having an episode. The first two times that I had bouts with severe anxiety, and I would say debilitating anxiety to where I couldn’t function, I was taken out of school. There was one time where I ended up in a hospital, which was somewhat traumatic. I always kind of thought those things were behind me because I could see the signs coming and be able to remove myself before it got to the point where I would have to be removed from my responsibilities and stress.
Shayna Norwood: Owning a business is not like that. You are in charge of everything that happens. There was a time, it was right around 2016, where just a bunch of unfortunate events happened. I had just opened up my retail shop. I was being triggered by election issues and then the woman who was kind of my right hand didn’t show up to work one week and ended up being in a coma in the hospital for… in a coma for a week and then out of work for three months. This was right before the 2000… This is my before our first holiday season as a retail shop gift shop. So I was just working seven days a week, 16 hours a day for basically the whole month of December. At the end of it, any normal person would crash and burn after that type of stress. So I took some time off after the holiday season and I just started having these insane anxiety attacks where I would just be brushing my teeth in the morning and then start hysterically crying in the middle of brushing my teeth and not be able to go into work.
Shayna Norwood: It was really a time where I had to evaluate what my situation was and what I was able to do and not do based on my history. This was different than the times that I had had in the past where I could just take time off of work or be taken out of school or take five days and go to a hospital. I basically had to really reevaluate what I could do and what I couldn’t do. I ended up going to a psychiatrist and being prescribed medication. I’m way more aware of when I overwork these days because otherwise it could lead to just a really bad situation for me. I think it’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough within entrepreneurs is that you can’t take the time off if you need it potentially. It’s not like a regular job and just the stresses of having to lead a business when all this other stuff happens is real.
Melinda Wittstock: It really is. Thank you for sharing so openly about it because it’s true.
Melinda Wittstock: I know I’ve been there in your shoes where it’s all resting on you, right? You have to work through a sustained period for a long time and just pull out all the stops to get there. There are so many things. It’s like a Chinese menu of all the things that you could become anxious about in your business when it’s all on you.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Over the years, I’ve learned I think just through my own, I guess personal growth because it’s pushed me in that direction where I’ve had to say, “Oh my goodness. Okay, this is interesting. Why am I being triggered? I’m being triggered, so obviously there’s something that I need to clear, something I need to let go of,” right? What’s the lesson in this or whatever. Now, when these things happen, I don’t have the same reaction that I used to, but I think, this is business five for me now. So I think of business one and two, gosh, I had my moments and there was no one to talk to about it. [crosstalk 00:18:52]
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it’s so true. I think also like what I’ve learned with sharing my story more is that I’ve… I’m in a women’s business group also is that there are more people that have anxiety that run businesses that you think. A lot of times, I had one woman in this business group say that, “In order to even run a business, you need to have a little bit of anxiety because otherwise, you wouldn’t be up late at night trying to solve the problems that are coming up.” I think it’s way more prevalent than you expect [crosstalk 00:19:31] and just being able to talk about it and to be able to know that this is not a weird freakish thing that you’re suffering by yourself just made it easier to… Even I’ll still have anxiety and I’ll still have things I’m going through, but just knowing that I’m not alone it in.
Melinda Wittstock: You’re not alone in it. No, that’s the thing and it’s so important. For anybody listening here, I think as women we can think, “Oh God. We’re the only people that are having this issue,” because you look on Facebook or Instagram and it’s all their highlight reel. People keep these things really quiet, so I think it’s very important to actually talk about it because it’s actually more normal than not, but this is why we need communities of women and coaches and mentors and masterminds and things like that for us to help each other through it. I think we do better when we have that for sure.
Shayna Norwood: Totally. I think it also will affect men too, but they’re just less likely to talk about it or be open about it. But anybody who’s experiencing anxiety across the board really…. when you’re in those moments, you do feel alone because you feel so and you don’t feel like you’re able to connect with other people.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. No, it’s difficult. It’s actually really difficult to reach out. I have a mastermind group associated with the Wings of the Empowered Woman Retreats that I do for very successful female entrepreneurs. These are all women with seven, eight, nine figure businesses. It’s like pulling teeth to get people to actually use our hot- We have a hotline. So if you have some big issue in your business or you’re having an anxiety moment or whatever and it’s just getting women to just pick up the phone. When we do that, we’re all better for it because I think we all learn from each other-
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: … and it’s great. I think what’s interesting though too is this idea though that it has to be a struggle because I don’t know if it necessarily has to.
Shayna Norwood: No.
Melinda Wittstock: I like the idea of reframing this and getting out of that thing like it’s got to be a slog or we’ve got to be suffering to be able to succeed.
Shayna Norwood: Right. I agree. [Crosstalk 00:21:46].
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, the more I’ve shifted that in my life-
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: … interestingly, the more I succeed. The less I struggle, the better I do. [crosstalk 00:21:56].
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. I think it’s important that there’s two sides of it. If it’s a struggle, you should expect struggles to happen, but at the converse of that, the flip side of that, you should also expect that there are times of triumph too. I think it’s when it’s all one or all the other, that it starts to become detrimental to your mindset. You should enjoy the moments where you’re feeling good about things and you have some free time and you’re like, “I did that.” But then at the same time, if you’re only expecting to be like that, then the hard times will be terrible. You know? Yeah, it’s a full spectrum just the way life is, just the way humans are.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Well, just having good go-to systems for it. Right?
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s interesting the perspective of being a serial entrepreneur though too. For me, I’ve had businesses that are just easy and flow and the right people show up at the right time and everything is kind of copacetic. I’ve had other ones where it’s like for every two steps forward, you kind of feel like you’re getting hit in the head.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: With my perspective because I’m old enough now and I’ve done this so many times, I think, “Well, that’s interesting. What’s this head damage showing me? Am I actually on the right track? Or do I pivot slightly? Is it in alignment with who I’m supposed to be? Or is there some growth opportunity here for me personally?” The further along I get, I always see these anxiety moments or things like that as like, “Oh, I know what’s happening. This is cool. What can I learn from this?” But I wouldn’t say that I started that way. It’s taken a while to be able to get to that kind of position.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. Something that’s helped me for sure is, and this is simple, but like a mission and core values. It’s like maybe this thing that I’m doing is really challenging, but if it’s a part of the values that I have for myself and my business, then I’m going to keep figuring out how to work around these challenges. If it’s not a part of my core values, maybe just cut it out. Maybe it’s not worth continuing to be challenged by.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. Right. I think this is interesting even with team, right? As you, you have a team, getting people in the right seats, really understanding them and what they need. They have their own anxieties, all these things as well.
Shayna Norwood: Right, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: So how to make sure that everybody, well, first of all is obviously aligned in the vision, mission of the company, but that you’re able to create a scenario where they can be their best and they feel supported. I think in a weird way, all the stuff that we go through as leaders helps us lead others.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah, for sure. [crosstalk 00:00:24:45].
Melinda Wittstock: If we didn’t experience it ourselves, we wouldn’t have the empathy to lead others.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. Well and also, there’s some things that people on my team have that are experiencing that I don’t understand, but I can understand having worked with enough people that it is an issue, or that it can be an issue or these are with certain ways to look outside your own mindset. I also think not everybody who runs a business is like… There’s difference between…. Managing people and leading people are kind of two different things too.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah, there’s inspiring people and then there’s also putting people in the positions for them to be their best.
Melinda Wittstock: Absolutely. Right. What are some of the things that you do practically? When this actually comes up for you, what are some of the systems that you have in place for your own self care?
Shayna Norwood: For my own self-care. That’s a challenge. Honestly, it really is. I would say the biggest thing for me is having an open dialogue with the people in my life, both personally and professionally, having them know that I am aware of what my limitations are and what my weaknesses are so that if I am having issues, I can tell them and be like, “I just need to take a day off or take a few hours off,” or, “I’ve been struggling with this.” I would say I don’t announce it to the whole team during staff meetings, but having the managers that report to me or telling my husband or my friends like, “Hey, I’m having a hard time. This is what I’m doing,” so that I’m setting expectations of they know what my history is and they can also be gracious and understanding of that.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Well, self-care is a big challenge for a lot of women because we tend to put ourselves last and if we’re… I’m trying to remember who said this, but if we’re serving from an empty cup, we have nothing left to serve-
Shayna Norwood: Yes, totally.
Melinda Wittstock: We’ve got to make sure our own cup is full, so we can kind of serve from the saucer.
Shayna Norwood: I also like the airplane analogy. Put on your air mask first before helping others around you. If you don’t have any air, then you can’t lead the people around you.
Melinda Wittstock: When your team members see you go through something and handle it, it’s like an inspiration for them, to have that sense of openness and it’s a tricky thing. What’s the boundary there? How much to show your own team of what you’re going through because [crosstalk 00:27:37] you don’t want to panic them. You want to be the strong leader, but at the same time, you also… It’s an interesting balance, right? Where do I get that right.
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. I’ve learned that for the most part I should not… Only if it gets to the point where it would affect me at work is when I should say something. On the day to day little things that I need to do, I could just go home and take care of myself or talk to my husband, you know? So yes, I definitely don’t want to panic people, but if it’s like I think I need to take a day off of work then, those days still come up sometimes. Yeah, yeah. So just being able to do… Yeah, it is a fine line basically.
Melinda Wittstock: I’ve learned along the way that I now put self-care things in my calendar. They’re actually like meditation, take a break, have a massage once a week. I just do all these things. I make sure that I have time, which I get my best ideas when I’m out walking my dog-
Shayna Norwood: Yes.
Melinda Wittstock: … or meditating or when I’m actually not working is often when I’m the most productive, if that sounds odd, but it’s true.
Shayna Norwood: Oh, yeah. For me, because I have a creative business, I can work, but it’s I could either be doing like business-y things, which is like numbers, managing people social media, whatever and that’s just task oriented work. When it comes down to I’m creating new designs for my greeting card line, I need to literally sit in a room and putz around or just do things that seem not productive, but in order to get to the kind of get the creative juices flowing where it’s kind of more like play and experimentation rather than like, “I’m going to sit down and get this done.” so yeah, I can totally identify with that for sure.
Melinda Wittstock: So what’s next in your business? Where are you right now and what are the next big milestones you’re looking to hit?
Shayna Norwood: We have some internal restructuring that’s happening. So some people are leaving and getting some new people. That’s kind of just making sure that the staffing is stable and kind of figuring out what the new steps are from there. I’ve kind of felt like sometimes you need to like slowdown in order to accelerate. I’ve kind of been focusing on downshifting a little bit in order to figure out what the next steps are. So I feel like I’m a little bit in a in-between zone right now as boring as that may sound.
Melinda Wittstock: What’s the big vision for the company? You’re in a lot of retail stores. You’re doing a lot of things. You’ve gotten a huge amount of press-
Shayna Norwood: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: … big milestones. Where do you see the company going in the next five years?
Shayna Norwood: Five years, for sure. So we’re definitely working on growing our wholesale line, which is we’re in I think over three or 400 independent retailers now. So just continuing to go to trade shows and do big releases in terms of that. Then we have one retail shop in Logan Square in Chicago and I would like to try and get another retail shop. My reach would be one in New York and one in San Francisco because I have family in New York and I used to live in San Francisco. Yeah, that is a long-term goal. But yeah, in order to get to that goal, we need to figure out staffing and to make sure we have a really solid foundation because like I said before, I’m pretty slow growth type of person. I like to make sure everything’s stable before building on top of that.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. Well, that’s smart. So you’re building a business to really go the long haul it sounds like. Some people build businesses because they’re going to grow really fast and sell it. [crosstalk 00:32:10]
Shayna Norwood: This is my passion. This is my calling. This is where I want to be for a long time. I want this to be sustainable and long-term and to really have a solid foundation.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. So Shayna, how can people find you and work with you?
Shayna Norwood: Yeah. So, I am online at Steel Petal Press. You can find our greeting and other home goods and we have mental health trackers there. Then if you’re in Chicago, we are in Logan Square. We have our first retail store front there, and hopefully coming to a city, a coast near you.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for putting on your wings, flying with us.