We had the good fortune of connecting with Erica Sardarian-Peterson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erica, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Growing up as a first-generation Armenian American with immigrant parents, I was always taught to work hard. My dad moved to Los Angeles in 1979 as a young twenty-something and his first job was writing tickets at a car wash. He eventually started his own business, which has always inspired and will continue to inspire my entrepreneurial spirit. I started Sweet Little Nothings xo, a stationery company specializing in sweet notes and custom cards, after I began roaming the aisles of a card shop and couldn’t find the right card to send my then boyfriend who lived across the country. Not finding the right card really inspired me to create my own. I didn’t have a design background and I had no idea how to even create a greeting card but I loved handwritten notes and I knew I wanted to make something special. The relationship didn’t last and, ironically, I never sent the card, but the feeling I felt when I saw the “i miss you” card come to life (now our best seller!) was pure magic. It just felt right and I knew I wanted to create more. I didn’t know anything about the stationery business when I first started, which was a little scary but also exciting. Starting your own business is probably one of the most challenging things you can do, but I took small steps every single day and stayed committed. I learned to really trust myself and trust the process. I allowed myself to be vulnerable, to take risks, and to ultimately move forward without fear.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Sweet Little Nothings xo is a stationery company specializing in sweet notes and custom cards handcrafted and made locally in Los Angeles. I knew I wanted to create something simple and understated but also unique. Our paper is textured and of a higher, more premium quality, which is something I haven’t really seen in the market. In addition to the greeting cards, we have a line of postcards and note cards with our logo in the back in place of the stamp. We’ve hosted pop-up shops at West Elm (our dream!) and have sold as a local vendor in their California stores and are looking forward to expanding our line designing notebooks, journals, and wrapping paper. I am most proud of the authenticity of our work and the thought, effort, and energy we put into each and every card we create. It hasn’t been easy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. I feel very grateful for all of the obstacles because they taught me so many lessons of what to do and what not to do. Overcoming those fear based stories we tell ourselves and listening to my intuition is what really helped me take those risks. This will always be an ever evolving process. Learning to pivot and adapt especially during these uncertain times has been a great challenge but now more than ever we need our pen pals and stationery to help us all feel connected. That’s ultimately my mission for Sweet Little Nothings xo – to make people feel loved and valued in a deep, meaningful way.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love this question! There are so many fun and exciting things to do in LA and within an hour drive from the city as well. If I had a friend staying with me for the week, we would go to the beach. Drive down PCH to Malibu. Hike Solstice Canyon then head to Lily’s and grab some tacos to go and then have a nice picnic near the water. On the way home either pop into Moonshadows for a drink and an app or head to Malibu Farm and order their cauliflower pizza and a cocktail. I would head to Santa Monica, pick up some Bay Cities (the godmother) and go to Will Rogers beach. On the way home, I would pop into the Brentwood Country Mart for a coffee at the Farmshop and a sweet treat along with some local wine. The diesel bookstore is also located in the Country Mart if you’re looking for a great read in a cute, independently owned shop. Although closed now, I would love to go to the Hollywood Bowl or the Greek Theatre for a live show, museum visits in downtown LA, and also a Dodgers game. Huntington Library is one of my favorites in Pasadena. I’m also a homebody so staying in and cooking are also on the agenda. If you want to get out of LA, I would definitely recommend taking a day trip to Santa Barbara and going to the Douglas Family Preserve which is a trail that overlooks the ocean. It’s a dog trail so you can bring your fur baby and just walk around and take in all the beauty Santa Barbara has to offer. I would stop by Honor Market in Montecito (my fave!) for delicious artisanal pizza and their chocolate chip cookie for dessert and a bottle of local Santa Barbara wine to go.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am filled with so much gratitude for all the love and support I have around me. The most important is my husband who always supports me in everything that I do and always encourages me to continue doing what I love. I jokingly call him my Creative Consultant because I get his thoughts on all of the designs. He has a great eye and I deeply value his feedback. My family, including my dad, who taught me to always believe in myself, my mother who taught me the importance of a handwritten note and who’s been the inspiration for the brand, and my brother who always tells me to just go for it. To never let fear get in the way, to never get too comfortable and to continue to evolve and try new things. I work with designers, who are incredibly talented and have helped me create this beautiful brand that I am so proud of. My dear friends who were first in line to purchase the cards, who are my sounding boards, and who continue to support the business through and through. My fellow female entrepreneurs Innovative Domain and Unspoken Nutrition who know how challenging it can be to start your own business and have inspired me with their commitment to their work every day. NPR’s podcast How I Built This with Guy Raz has also been a huge inspiration. The podcast highlights our favorite entrepreneurs and tells their stories first hand of how they built their businesses. I also love Second Life with Hillary Kerr, which focuses on female driven businesses and entrepreneurs who changed their careers and essentially started over. Over the last few years, I set my intention to heal from trauma that was holding me back both personally and professionally. Through a lot of self work – reading books, listening to inspiring stories, journaling, meditating, and getting advice and guidance from amazing women, I learned to have self-compassion, to surrender, and to trust that everything will be okay, no matter what. We are culturally conditioned to feel a sense of lack and making the choice to live with gratitude and focus on all of the abundant things in my life and my business has brought me so much peace. There is no such thing as impossible. There is no such thing as failure. Everything is a learning and as long as you keep going and continue to follow your heart, everything will unfold the way it is supposed to. Once I shifted my perspective, everything changed for me and ultimately for Sweet Little Nothings xo.
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