Life (Planning) According to Erin Condren

Words of wisdom from the L.A. woman behind the eponymous line of paper goods and home décor

It knows my thoughts, my goals, and my daily schedule. No, I’m not talking about my best friend (although she does know all that, and more), and I’m not talking about my cell phone, either. I am talking about my Erin Condren Life Planner—the personalized, silver-foiled, spiral bound notebook I take everywhere. Long a fan of her products, I reached out to Condren to ask her about her line of paper goods and home décor (it all started with a single Thank You note) and her life. One exciting update: Her calendars and desk supplies, which were previously only available online, will be sold in Staples stores starting this month. Here’s what else she told me:

Starting a stationery and lifestyle products empire takes caffeine and 24-hour copiers.
“It’s a total blur right now honestly when I look back and think about it,” says Erin of starting her business in 2004. “I put the kids down at 7:30 at night, made a pot of coffee, and worked every night till midnight. Then, I would drive to Kinkos and be home by 1 or 1:30 in the morning. The babies would be awake at 5:30 or 6, and it would all start all over again. It was really, really difficult. My husband was also an entrepreneur and we didn’t have money.”

Being willing to make personal sacrifices goes a long way, too.
“My business partner Al Marco told me that many people can be entrepreneurs and have a great idea, but it’s very difficult to jump from being an entrepreneur to being a successful business person. Not many people can do it. For me, it means I’m not the room mom [at my kids’ school]. I’m not at every event. I have to make personal sacrifices to grow this company. There are tough decisions I need to make along the way. I had to make it work. It wasn’t a hobby because I had to have an income.”

It’s good to say “Thank You.”
“I have an on-the-go pack of Thank You cards at all times in my bag. It takes a minute to write a note and to put it in the mail. We’re always texting, posting, and Tweeting. How rarely do you get a hand-written note? It’s a good feeling to give, even more so than to get.”

Playing hostess doesn’t have to be work.
“People think its funny when I say it because entertaining can be stressful, but we like to entertain. I call my house Club Condren. I love to have a themed tray for parties. I’ll put one out with bagels in the morning, use it as a cheese platter for the pre-party, and clean it off for cookies and dessert at the end of the night. My husband and I are into entertaining together, so that’s a big help. It sounds crazy but that’s how we relax and spend our free time.”