An invitation to success

When Jessica Nicely couldn't find wedding invitations she liked that fit within her budget, she decided to design her own.

Family and friends were amazed at her creativity her invitations were modeled after airline boarding passes and pushed Nicely to produce more. She posted some of her work on Etsy, a Web-based store for handmade items, and sold seven orders the first week.

In February Nicely, 27, founded the Stylish Scribe, an Internet site that produces custom-designed wedding invitations, announcements and cards. The business has experienced fast growth, and Nicely currently has about 80 orders going, mostly from customers on the East Coast and as far away as Canada, Hong Kong and Italy.

"It is amazing the way people find me," she says. "I had no idea this would take off like it has."

Nicely seems slightly shocked at the rapid increase in business. She continues to work full time as a project manager for a general contractor in Reno, and she also recently completed her masters in business administration from the University of Nevada, Reno, where she also earned a bachelor's of science in information systems. Her undergraduate degree helped her design her own Web site, and the skills she learned while earning an MBA help her manage the Stylish Scribe.

Although she puts in about 30 to 35 extra hours per week, the business is significantly boosting her household's bottom line. She converted a spare bedroom into an office, where she designs invitations and other announcements, and prints and hand cuts them. She typically interacts with customers through email, revising designs until the customer is satisfied.

"Brides can be very picky I was that way too," she says. "But giving them something that encompasses their style and is within their budget, that is what is keeping me going. Right now I have about a 3-foot stack of paper I need to cut."

Word of mouth, especially in the Reno-Sparks area, and repeat customers have been the best advertising, she says.

"I get clients that are getting wedding invitations, and six months later I'll do their baby announcements. They also send me their friends. Even though it's through the Internet I still feel like I know most of them they will call me just to chat."

While she's not ready to give up her fulltime job, Nicely enjoys riding a wave of success that has yet to break. She wants to expand the business and its products, especially with local customers.

"I want to see where it takes me," she says. "I never envisioned it taking off like it has, so wherever it takes me is great."


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