Alitzah and Brandon Stinson on Refueling Inspiration, Increasing Productivity and the Value of Gratitude

UPDATED: March 3, 2023
PUBLISHED: March 3, 2023
Alitzah and Brandon Stinson, owners of Ivory Paper Co

Even in the digital era, this couple believes paper planners lead to productivity.

Alitzah and Brandon Stinson, the operators and owners of Ivory Paper Co, offer gorgeous organizational products with a modern twist. Their boutique paper company specializes in creating planners, journals, stationery and more to assist entrepreneurs, self-starters and go-getters in their quest to manage the many stressors of the COVID era. We asked them how they manage it all together.

What gives Ivory Paper Co planners a competitive edge?

Alitzah & Brandon: With so many planner companies and new ones popping up each day, we have found that our in-house manufacturing is what sets Ivory Paper Co apart. We make every single planner to order, which allows our customers to personalize their order just for them. Our customers put their names on their front covers, and even get to choose their start date. If you were to shop from many of our competitors, they have only two start dates: one in January and another in July or August. If you want to purchase outside of that window, you get stuck either waiting months to use your planner or with a planner that has a ton of wasted pages. We have completely eliminated that issue by having two planner start dates for every single month, which our customers absolutely love.

Do you use your own planners?

Alitzah: Of course! I use the All-In-One Planner. This was the first and only planner we had when we started Ivory Paper Co, and it is still our bestselling planner to date. I love this planner because it allows me to plan my months, weeks and days all in one place. Brandon quickly became a planner convert after starting Ivory Paper Co with me, and he uses the Ultimate Weekly Planner.

Do you ever feel nervous about running a stationery business in an increasingly paperless world?

Alitzah & Brandon: Not at all. As the world evolves and tech expands, people are wanting to disconnect more than ever from their devices. You see this in tech through tracking screen time and expanding “do not disturb” settings. Tech brings a ton of good to the world, but it also causes people to be easily distracted. If a person wants to disconnect, accomplish more and eliminate distractions, then paper planners will always help the user achieve their goals. We feel confident that people will continue to choose paper planners even as the world becomes increasingly digital.

What’s been the biggest challenge with Ivory Paper Co so far?

Alitzah & Brandon: The greatest challenge was during the COVID pandemic. In December 2020, we experienced massive growth, and scaling for the growth through the pandemic was the hardest challenge. Managing scaling is challenging in general, but when you add the specific challenges that 2020 brought—like supply shortages, hiring and shipping carrier delays—it made an already difficult time even tougher, which led to fulfillment delays for our production team. We learned that you need to build redundancy into your entire fulfillment system to be prepared for the worst-case scenarios, such as a pandemic. Since 2020, we have worked alongside our team to adapt our production workflow to be able to scale up as needed.

Are there any perks to working together?

Alitzah: There are a ton of perks: the midday pep talks paired with a hug, eating lunch together and, of course, the occasional dance party. We aren’t joking. We dance a lot at the Pink House—what we call our warehouse and manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ohio. Proof can be found on our social media platforms!

That being said, running a business with your family or partner can be challenging. Brandon and I have learned to truly trust each other and not micromanage. Brandon manages all of the marketing along with our creative teams, which includes design and product development. I handle the administrative side of the business, the face of the brand and run our entire production floor.

How do you get back into an inspired headspace when you’re feeling burned out?

Alitzah: This can be so tough, especially in the startup phase. Luckily, Brandon and I have a great foundation. We have always prioritized family time. Spending time with our two daughters truly helps keep us centered. Children are so innocent, and whether we’ve had the best or worst day, they are consistent in their playful, uplifting spirit. We also give ourselves time to rest. When we feel burned out, we try to listen to our bodies and take a step back—maybe a day off or a work-free weekend to refuel our tanks for the week ahead.

Have your children learned anything from watching you run Ivory Paper Co together?

Alitzah & Brandon: We really hope our daughters learn the power of hard work. We hope they see through our example that, if they work hard in pursuit of their goals, they can accomplish so much.

What’s one value you bring to every business pursuit?

Alitzah & Brandon: Gratitude. We have included gratitude into every single Ivory Paper Co planner and included a letter regarding gratitude in every planner in our 22-piece collection at Target. We have found that practicing gratitude has allowed us to become better, happier people. Stressing about the past or worrying about the future only takes away from the experience of truly living. For us, practicing gratitude is a way to center ourselves and live in the moment. 

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo courtesy of Alitzah & Brandon Stinson

Rae Fitzgerald is a freelance writer, fly-fishing enthusiast and musician on the Austin, TX-label Keeled Scales. She received her BFA in Creative Writing from Truman State University.