Kyle Sommer
Kyle Sommer, founder of Sommer Letter Co. (Credit: Courtesy of Sommer Letter Co.)

Kyle Sommer has always enjoyed sending personalized notes and cards to her loved ones. When she couldn’t find the exact kinds of greeting cards she wanted to share with friends and family, however, she decided to make her own. In 2015, she launched Sommer Letter Co. to turn her self-made watercolor works into notebooks, planners, greeting cards, puzzles and more. While the Fort Wayne, Indiana, entrepreneur has struggled with her mental health as a solopreneur over the years, she has recently struck a better balance – finally allowing herself to rest as needed without feeling guilty. 

Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.

How is your business different from others in your industry?

I was tired of the snarky greeting cards I saw trending in stores, so I decided to start making the cards that I wanted to send – cards that are heartfelt and kind.

Tell us about your biggest success so far. 

I have had a handful of TikTok videos go viral, each of them receiving over 1 million views. I have found that consumers enjoy getting to hear about the decision-making process behind creating products – and I am extremely careful and particular about that. 

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?

Learning to manage my mental health without it impacting the quality of my products. In seasons where I am struggling, I let myself do the bare minimum – vital tasks only. I call this “maintenance” mode. And in seasons when my mental health is better, I pick up my work pace significantly. Now, I no longer feel guilty about the times when I am less productive. 

What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs? 

Follow a map of what is important to you! Don’t conform your product or business to appeal to the masses. People value authenticity over trends long-term. Also, you will burn out if you are making your product just to appeal to others.

How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?

My faith is my biggest motivator. Also, on my worst days, I rely on my husband and friends to remind me of what is good, what is true and what is right.

What is your go-to song to get motivated on tough days? 

We love listening to a Taylor Swift playlist in the studio!

Who is your most important role model?

My mom. ◼

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