Kathryn Carter started experimenting with calligraphy in high school. At first she recreated pins she found on Pinterest, but soon she moved on to making her own prints and journal covers. When she was a sophomore in college, she decided to take the plunge and start her own business, knowing, “It wasn’t a matter of if, but when for me.” Today the North Carolina State University senior is juggling a busy class load while also finding time to create pieces for her company, Uncapped Calligraphy and Designs. Despite the workload, the college age entrepreneur is grateful to be starting up when she is, knowing that she’s got plenty of resources at her fingertip on campus, that she might not have otherwise.
Carter’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
To tell you a little bit about myself, calligraphy has always been a passion of mine. It all started in high school, where I would recreate pins from Pinterest. From creating prints, I moved onto painting canvases, then to creating journal covers for myself. These caught the attention of numerous friends and family members and I decided to officially start my business in 2018 (during my Sophomore year at North Carolina State University). I may have started this business in college, but in my opinion there was no better time to take the chance and start up Uncapped Calligraphy and Designs. It wasn’t a matter of if, but when for me.
Success to me is achieving personal goals that incorporate personal passions that as a result have a positive impact on others around you. In other words, it is using my God given talents to leave a positive mark on the community around me.
My biggest success to date was being able to get my product into 5 different retail stores within the first 6 months of being in business…it might be a smaller success because I am still growing, but in my opinion, every little success counts and those little successes contribute to your overall success as a company.
One of my top challenges is balancing work and life. As a full-time college student at North Carolina State University, and current senior, I take on the challenge of being an entrepreneur while juggling 16 credit hours per semester. I am studying Fashion and Textile Management with a concentration in brand management and marketing. I always laugh when I think back to my first year in business, where my first (and really rough) product pictures were taken in the bad dorm lighting of Sullivan Hall, and how my inventory was neatly stacked under my lofted bed in Bragaw Hall the following year. This serves as a glimpse into how much motivation and passion I bring to what I do.
Being an entrepreneur has had it’s highs and lows, there’s no question about that. But I have to remind myself that it gives me a special purpose, helps me connect the things I learn in my classes, and makes me unique in the fact that I have access to an exponentially growing market in college with resources to help me along the way. On the days that are overwhelming, when work seems to pile up, or when I have to miss a football game in order to go to a pop up market, I remind myself of these unique opportunities that I have as an entrepreneur in college that others don’t.
On a more practical note, time management, organization, diligence, and boundaries are key for me. I hold myself to a strict 9-5 standard for all business activities, including communication. In addition, to-do lists and pre-planning keep me afloat. During summer and winter breaks, you can find me planning all social media posts for the next semester and creating new products to get ahead.
My most important role model for my business is my dad because he is a creative entrepreneur who has owned his own graphic design company for over 20 years. Throughout my life I have seen him navigate the inevitable good and bad times of entrepreneurship and his support in my own business means the world to me. I am a firm believer in community, and having someone who understands you as an entrepreneur, who you can bounce ideas off of. It’s one of the greatest tools you can have in your toolkit as an entrepreneur.