“Everybody loves to make a wish,” that is the simple yet totally inspiring concept behind Flying Wish Paper, the brainchild of Artist/Mum/Entrepreneur Julia Lambie.
Julia launched her company – from focus group to finished product — in less than one year. Impressive, but not surprising given her unique concept, incredible business sense and can-do attitude about life, work and everything in between.
“Flying Wish Paper is a wishing activity kit to celebrate and inspire,” Julia says as she explores why her product has resonated so strongly with customers from all over the world. “The process of manifesting a wish is always a fulfilling and inspirational experience.”
Here at House of Coco, manifesting your own personal success is something we truly believe in as a brand. And so, in this interview, we sit down with Julia to discuss the mottos that inform her life, the biggest challenges and pleasures of being your own boss, and her personal journey to make her own wishes come true with Flying Wish Paper.
Tell us about the journey that led you to launching your brand Flying Wish Paper…
My journey began from jealousy. For 25 years, I worked in advertising helping other companies bring their products to life. I discovered that I wanted to do the same for myself.
In 2007 I organised a focus group to review three product ideas: a kitchen gadget, a guitar accessory, and a wishing kit. And the winner was…flying wishes!
With my background in project management and print production, I was able to develop this new concept in only six months. Flying Wish Paper debuted at The National Stationery Show in NYC with just a few designs and a handful of prototypes. It got attention and was on store shelves in less than one year.
I had two bits of early, unbelievable luck. First was being featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Second was a CNN marketing and business show. The national coverage gave Flying Wish Paper exposure, bragging rights and credibility with buyers.
And so began the sweet story of my husband, two daughters and me in our living room, turning on a good movie and assembling wishing kits for shipment. After the first year, I was happy to hire a warehouse.
Describe your product line and how long you’ve been in business.
Flying Wish Paper is a wishing activity kit full of inspiration and power. Write your wish on the special paper, light it and watch as your wish flies to the heavens. “Write it. Light it. Watch it fly!” Kits are available in two sizes and 50 designs.
At the beginning 13 years ago, the concept was new to the marketplace. That was a big hurdle to overcome, but the activity is now a common and popular concept. Wish Paper is a feel-good product, and we all need that positive energy now more than ever.
This activity is inspired by an old tradition which was started by a company in Italy, Lazzaroni (lazzaroni.it). They sell an Amaretti cookie that is wrapped in a special paper. One eats the cookie, then shapes the wrapper into a tube, lights it on fire and makes a wish as it flies up into the air. I developed my own paper and packaged it with a few accessories to make a kit (alas, no cookie).
It’s a fun, whimsical brand. Who’s your ideal customer?
Everybody loves to make a wish! Sometimes it’s just for fun, like the bride making witty (or dirty) wishes at her bachelorette party. Birthdays are big and holidays are huge. Others like making wishes on Christmas morning, or at the table with family and friends. Sometimes it’s a sombre experience, like remembering a loved one. Often, it’s just a private, personal message sent into the universe.
What’s the process before adding a new kit to your collection?
Because my product is ‘paper’ and 100% made in the USA, I can react quickly to trends. I look through so many magazines, walk through a lot of gift stores and talk to buyers, travel, and scroll through Instagram to see what styles or themes are popular. My client base is diverse, so my product line includes a large variety of unique designs to choose from.
How do you want people to feel after using your kits?
Empowered, inspired, entertained, energised, hopeful, lucky, and connected to the universe.
If you were to describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Playful, positive, and pretty.
What advice would you offer to anyone wanting to become an artist?
Do it but have a business plan to back it up. Being a poor artist doesn’t have the same ‘je ne sais quoi’ as during the renaissance period. Find a community or a mentor because all artists need this kind of business and personal support.
How would you describe your personal style?
Aesthetically, I operate in the ‘classic’ zone. My home and office are mid-century modern. I can look at a well-organised shelf all day long and be perfectly happy. I can’t get enough tone-on-tone, black and white, simple lines, or shades of blue. Add a ruffle (button-up blouse, toss pillow or potato chip – any ruffle will do) and I am good to go.
Talk us through an average day in your life…
I work from home, so focus is my superpower, but frenzy is right on its heels.
As the owner and only employee, my hands are on EVERYTHING. I have pages and pages of things to do. I’m a morning person so I jump right in. My day starts with a call to my warehouse to review assembly and orders for the day, then I whip out my list and do my job.
Working alone, it’s easy to lose track of the hours I sit on this chair. (My record is five straight hours by the way.) I’m careful to create distractions: eating lunch with my husband, working out, or FaceTime with a friend.
I easily work a full forty every week but it’s a mix of 12 hours one day, 2 hours the next. My approach is to power through and then enjoy large chunks of time off. Oh, and very important – I never work weekends.
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
I consider social media ‘an important hobby’ compared to my old-school style of picking up the phone and just talking to someone. Flying Wish Paper is such a personal product, and it’s important to maintain personal relationships. The type of person who buys my product relishes this kind of interaction…and social media doesn’t provide that.
Individual customers create a lot of content around ‘making wishes’ and I repost many images and videos. There’s undeniable value in social media and I love to create content. It’s fun, but it’s secondary. Foremost to the success of a brand is a great product, a unique message and strong customer service to support it.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
My husband and I are going back to Italy as soon as we can. We’re not getting any younger, and those cobblestones get harder to navigate with every passing day.
There are many things I want to do again: walk through The Hall of Prisoners at the Uffizi, drink a limoncello martini in Sorrento, buy a new pair of red leather loafers in Rome. And so many things to do for the first time – eat pizza in Naples, learn how to fry zucchini blossoms in Siena.
Remember, the original inspiration for Flying Wish Paper comes from Italy – so I feel very connected to this place.
After that, my first trip to Japan – which has a strong culture attached to paper fortunes, known as Omikuji.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
I have two, and they will get you through anything.
“Don’t Dream It, Be It.” This goes way back to my teen years in the late ‘70s, a favourite lyric from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Like most teens I was insecure and unworldly back then. These words continue to push me outside my comfort zone.
My other motto is “It Never Hurts to Ask” – Many times along the way, you’re going to need help. If you are brave enough to put your needs or desires in front of someone (or out into the universe, for that matter) often the answer will be…YES.
What’s next for you and the brand?
I’m keeping it simple. I own this category, so I just want to embrace design trends and push market growth.
I’m going to seek out brands to partner with for custom designed kits. I’ve created wishing kits for Urban Outfitters, Anthropology, Sonia Rykiel Design House, Make A Wish UK, and Paper Source. I’m coming for you, Desigual! (Remember, it never hurts to ask.)
What does self-care mean to you?
I believe self-care begins with mental health, and whatever you need to do to keep your head straight. The rest is cake. No literally, cake! Everything in moderation works well for me.
Where can people find out more?