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Building A Business On Vulnerability and Community|Interview With Sadie Banks of Good Grief Journals

If you love finding a company built on an incredible personal're about to fall in love with Good Grief Journals. The founder of Good Grief Journals, Sadie Banks, turned her infertility journey into a business that creates journals to help others walking through grief. Not only have these journals provided help and support to others, Sadie has also created an incredible community of support and hope by sharing her personal experiences.

During our interview we dive into the process of creating products, incorporating vulnerability into your business, overcoming roadblocks, and so much more. I absolutely fell in love with this incredible company and Sadie's openness. I know you're going to love this episode! Check out the show notes below and then head to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Play to listen to the entire interview for yourself!

Sadie Banks is the founder and owner of Good Grief Journals. They currently have journals for infertility and miscarriage, and this year they are launching journals for IVF, pregnancy, motherhood, anxiety, and general grief.

What was the catalyst that led you to turn your infertility journey into a business that could help others experiencing similar trials?

It honestly wasn't ever in the plans to turn that experience into a business. I had been wanting a journal for a really long time--like two years-- that would help me cope with the emotions and experiences of infertility, but I couldn't find one, so I decided that I could make one myself. After I created it and began using it, I realized that other women probably needed it too, so I started selling them and it just kind of snowballed from there.

I had been sharing my experiences on my personal instagram and that was growing too, but again, I never intended for it to become a business or to become the community and platform that it has.

How did you come up with the name “Good Grief” and how did you decide to go with journals as your product offering?

Hah. Actually it's a mix between Charlie Brown and a quote from The Office. Michael Scott says something along the lines of, "there's such thing as GOOD grief… just ask Charlie Brown."

Because I had created that first journal for myself, I always knew it was supposed to be journals. When I realized how healing and important writing was for me in my own journey through grief, I knew that others needed it, too.

What was the process of product creation like for you? 

Obviously, first-- ideation. Which is mostly just choosing a topic. Then from there I do some market research to make sure that people would be interested in a journal on that topic.

Once I know there's interest, I begin forming a basic focus group of people who are currently or have experienced the topic and I ask them questions like, "what do you wish you had known?" and "what helped you through your journey?"

From there, I begin writing prompts and looking for inspirational quotes and affirmations that could work with the topic. And I begin brainstorming feature page ideas.

Once I have a good amount of prompts and feature page ideas, I send the prompts over to my friend who works specifically with people who have experienced trauma and need help emotionally and mentally. She helps me make sure the wording of my prompts is helpful for others, and that the prompts are on topic.

Once she finishes, I draw up my VERY rough sketches of what I hope the pages will look like and then I send everything over to my designer, Elise (from Elise Creates) and she magically makes it look exactly as I see it in my head.

Then, once we make sure everything is perfect, she sends me a print ready file and I send that over to our printers and they print me a sample copy. Once that gets approved, we begin our pre-order process!

How was the process of creating your product different from what you may have expected?

The biggest thing was the amount of TIME that goes into creating a physical product. From ideation to holding a physical copy in my hands takes about 6 months to a year. 

What tips do you have for people launching a product based business?

Be patient with the process, but don't let that stop you from creating products! The world needs what you have to create and it needs your story! So go for it!!

One of the hardest parts of building your own business can be drawing the line between business and personal. So many times, it can be hard to not get too emotionally invested in your business/products (they’re your babies!). How have you found is the best way to draw a line between the business and personal to help you make better business decisions as you grow your business?

This is something I am constantly working on. Because it is SO hard to draw the line and STICK TO IT. But one thing that has really helped me is setting goals and making clear plans for where I want my business to be in the next few years.

What are some of the biggest roadblocks you’ve come across as you’ve created and grown your business, and how have you overcome them?

Actually, a big roadblock I've had is the amount of journal topics that we COULD create journals for. We get daily requests for specific journal topics and it's hard to not drop everything to try to create a journal for those peoples' specific needs. So, one way we have tried to overcome that is by creating journals on more broad topics like anxiety and general grief. We hope to be able to create more specific and niched journals along the way, but for now, that is how we have worked through that roadblock.

Another roadblock, which I imagine is hard for any business, is funding. We have personally funded Good Grief from the beginning. And I am positive that people don't understand and underestimate the amount of work and money that goes into building a business-- especially a product based business. It's not as simple as be given an idea and start selling the product the next day. There are lots of steps involved and each step costs money.

What would you do differently if you could start all over again?

I would market better. And work harder to build the brand from the start. I have really only just begun to work to market better and it feels a little clunky right now instead of just the norm. So I'm working to make that BE the norm and a lot less clunky right now. I have a lot to learn and a long way to go, but it gets better every day!

Something I LOVE about you and your business is that you share so authentically. It’s inspiring to see how you’ve brought your own experiences into your business and used your platform as a place that cultivates true connection. How have you been able to have the courage and skill to share so authentically? How has it impacted your business? 

Thank you, that is really sweet and means a lot to me. I really try to be authentic when I have the mental capacity to do so. Writing has always been my preferred way of coping with the hard things in my life. So when I am struggling--with anything-- I write. I keep my own journals and write in the notes section of my phone very regularly. That's where I draw from and come up with captions.

I actually talk to my husband, Parker, about courage a lot. Sharing my experiences doesn't feel courageous to me. It just feels like that's what I'm supposed to do. And there are definitely parts of my story and experiences I haven't shared, that I'm not sure I'll ever share, because I'm just not ready for that or it feels too personal. I think that we often feel like we have to post EVERYTHING in order to be vulnerable and authentic, when in reality, we get to control what we share and when we share it.

It has definitely impacted my business because that's the only way I have grown is by being authentic and vulnerable. I've been able to connect with my audience and chat in the DMs with so many women who are experiencing really hard things. And being able to offer them a tool to get back to having hope and helping them cope is incredible

Sadie's Book Recommendations:

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

Why She Buys: The New Strategy for Reaching the World's Most Powerful Consumers by Bridget Brennan

If you could go back in time and give yourself advice when you were first getting started (on either business, or both!) what would it be?

I get this advice from Alison Faulkner but it's something I tell myself daily. "If you feel called to do it, freaking do it." I get caught up in feeling the need to have all the right credentials and background, but at the end of the day, I feel so called to do this and everything has fallen together so perfectly every time I push through the negative talk in my mind and just create the things I feel called to create.

Connect With Sadie!

Instagram: @sadie__banks (that's two underscores) and @goodgriefjournals.


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