In a quest to perfect her handwriting, Jo Eleanor’s journey took an unexpected pivot when she attended a class in Calligraphy and decided to leave her successful medical clinic behind to pursue her new found creative passion. This leap of faith soon saw her become the creative behind her modern calligraphy studio, Calligraphy En Vogue, which has the likes of Chanel, Dior and Givenchy knocking at the door. With a unique ability to transform a narrative into written words that ignite true meaning and connection, her tailored calligraphy pieces have become in demand by brands wanting to create a personalised experience for their audience and bride’s looking to elevate their wedding with calligraphy that encapsulates the essence of their special day. We spoke with Jo about her creative business journey, untapped marketing tools, advice for building lasting customer relationships and gratitude.
Hi Jo, welcome to our #bethegirl interview series. Let’s start with a bit about your professional background?
I studied for 5 years with an allied health degree in Podiarty and ran my own private practice for over 10 years before i took some time off for maternity leave when i had my twins.
Tell us all about Calligraphy En Vogue!
Calligraphy en vogue started out as wanting to fix my terrible hand writing that 15 years of medical notes had wrecked havoc me! What turned into a fun passion morphed into a full time business servicing brides who want beautiful calligraphy for their wedding stationery & working with luxury fashion brands to create on site experiences & personalising in the form of engraving, foiling & traditional pointed pen calligraphy.
We would love to know about your creative business journey. How did you get into calligraphy and design?
I wasn’t really intending on making calligraphy my career i wasn’t even sure that was a career! But after i started practising my new found hobby daily i started an instagram page and weirdly started getting asked to do projects for complete strangers! When it came time to decide if i was going to go back to my medical career i took a leap of faith and decided to try pursuing an art career instead and i haven’t looked back since! It wasn’t easy it was a lot of late nights and hard work but it was definitely worth it.
“I’ve always had a passion for fashion, design & french styling so
having the chance to work with a luxury fashion house was a
dream come true, that I never could have achieved without
following my passion for calligraphy”
You have worked with over 104 highly reputable brands (including Dior, Chanel and Vogue might we add!) and have help them create an interactive, personalised experience for their customers by transforming their products into keepsake pieces with hot foil calligraphy and engraving. Tell us more about this…
Whether it’s through a thank you card, invitation, place card or a interactive personalising event on thing is for certain, people love having a personal experience. In a world where it’s rare to receive a hand written note calligraphy really fascinates and connects on a deeper level. I love doing onsite events because it’s about creating memorable experiences. People can shop easily online these days so if they are in store, it’s about being entertained and having something created that isn’t mass produced by an online store on a production line. Because of our current social distancing measures we have shifted focus on how we can recreate that experience for consumers online and we have had some really fun ideas come to light!
Jo, you believe that there is an ‘untapped marketing tool’ that brands should be paying attention to in 2020 and that’s immersive experiences. What does this mean for women in business?
The face of retail has been evolving rapidly for the last couple of years. In store shopping is no longer about convenience but experience and connection. Having an artist hand engrave your perfume bottle for example, it creates an interactive experience, it encourages user driven content marketing through the customer sharing the experience on socials, it allows the store to tap into a new audience of ideal clients through promotion on our social pages as well as attracting customers who may not be familiar with the brand in store. There is so many marketing advantages for women in business who choose experiential marketing over a transactional experience for their customers. I want to walk into a store and be entertained, surprised and rewarded and that is exactly what Calligraphy en Vogue gives their clients. It isn’t just about an increase in immediate sales during the promotional period but about building elusive brand loyalty which is becoming increasingly difficult with the noise of social media distracting customers. I think women instinctively know how important this element is within any retail business whether its a physical store or an online store. We have evolved to focus on how we can recreate these experiences virtually, which means we can reach a much wider audience and influence on a much larger scale.
The key to building relationships with your customers is by turning your offering into a moment they will remember. How has this worked for you and what are some key words of advice for those wanting to do more of this in their business?
It really applies to any business. Nothing will ever replace good relationship building and showing your customers/clients that their needs and desires are the top focus of why you do, what you do. It could be anywhere from sending thank you cards to each and every business you interact with. Hand written personalised stationery is the key! Depending on your business personalised gifting, hosting networking events for your clients or remembering their birthday or favourite bottle of wine really does go a long way in building raving clients who will always feel a connection with your business & brand. So much of marketing focuses on how to acquire new business prospects, but in truth focusing on personalising the experience and knowing your targets audiences true desires & needs can be a much more effective way to generate revenue in your business.
What would be one of the most memorable experiences you have had so far with Calligraphy En Vogue?
Gosh there has been a few! Getting to work with Chanel and Dior in the early days when it was still a dream to work with luxury brands was definitely a “pinch me moment”. My favourite part is when a client gives me free reign to come up with an exciting concept that is perfect for their products and target audiences. I absolutely adore doing wedding styled shoots and working with incredible businesses within the industry. Our most recent one was in Brisbane and i was so in love with the dress i was lucky enough to have a loan of and the team let me loose with the calligraphy concept and everything just came together so perfectly. Its my creative escape. Probably my proudest moment i can’t talk about yet, but watch this space all will be revealed soon!
What are you focusing on at the moment in your business and projects you are working on?
Right now with weddings on pause and retail stores closed my focus is on supporting my retail and wedding clients. I have been working really hard on putting together an offsite strategy for all our retailers to continue to offer a personalised experience but for an online platform. So many of the ideas we’ve come up with are new to the market so i’m excited to see where that might steer our business moving forward. In regards to brides my main focus is keeping spirits up, keep providing inspiration and an escape from the uncertainty and reminding everyone that this too shall pass and once it’s all over we are here to help them celebrate!
How do you find balance in it all and take time away?
I have a husband that runs a construction company and 3 girls 5, and 3 year old twins so honestly sometimes there isn’t life balance. I am so blessed that I do have a studio in my house so when i’m not working on site i am there, creating in my happy place. Having a supportive husband and family is why i can do what i do and we make it work around my retail hours and his early starts. I love that every week in my business is different and it ebbs and flows, some days i don’t have a crazy schedule so i’ll pick up all the girls early and we’ll go for ice cream at the beach. I try not to beat myself up too much about not being as present on the busy weeks. I always wanted to be the mum that picked up her girls from school and i’m so grateful that I’ve found a job that i love and ties in well with my family life, even if it means lots of late nights working on admin, it’s worth it.
What are you feeling grateful for right now?
I am grateful for the roof over my head and the blessing of having been given more time to spend with my daughters & hubby and the rare chance to stop, pause and reflect on my business, my goals and how i can best utilise all this extra time I’ve been given. Right now it is about the simplest things, health & happiness.
Where can we find you?
On Instagram and over at our website.