Starting a new journal is always exciting, but oftentimes intimidating too. Many of us are unsure where to begin when opening a blank journal. But for Kate, a small business owner from Warsaw, Poland, a blank journal is exactly what she needs to create something stunning.
Kate, who creates custom journals and planners, has amassed a significant audience of over 70,000 followers for her small business on the @madetoplan Instagram account. Her work involves creating and testing different journal and planner designs to suit the needs of her customers, so we wanted to learn more about her passion for all things design, stationery, and planning.
Here's our conversation:
The Washi Tape Shop: Can you tell me about your passion for journals and planners? When did you start using a journal or planner, and why?
Kate: This is one of those questions that is really hard to answer because every answer will be predictable. For me it started in the early school days. Back then, no one had heard of bullet journals and special planners. You invented such things yourself in school notebooks. I started using a real planner in college. It helped me keep up with all important deadlines, exams and upcoming events. Also it helped me organize many things and keep up to date with everything that was happening then. I've always been kind of a stationery person. So using the planner was a natural thing for me! I have always liked to put all things on paper. It has its magic! To this day, I think exactly the same so the planner paper version is still ahead of the digital one for me.
TWTS: As a small business owner, you make custom planners and journals for your customers. What inspired you to offer this service and create custom products? Have you always been interested in designing products?
Kate: The idea for my planner business was born from the simple need for such a thing! The whole idea was born a few years ago when I was looking for a planner in the middle of the year. I couldn't get it anywhere because it was neither the beginning of the year nor the time to go back to college or school. All the shops were empty! Thought that's probably it! Time to make planners that everyone can start at any time during the year.
Personalization was another thing I thought would be a great idea. All of us want to feel special. We use the planner a lot, so why should it be like millions of others? Why not add some extra touches to the cover? I still think it was an amazing idea!
TWTS: I'd love to learn more about your creativity and design process, which I've seen a bit of on Instagram. Without revealing too many details, can you tell us how you create custom-order planners and journals? For example, do you start with specific requests for certain layouts, or themes?
Kate: The whole process is not complicated. The customer has the option to choose the start month of the planner, cover design, inside layout and of course personalization on the cover. All those details are discussed before making each planner. The cover is the element which is most time consuming. Matching all details, glue drying time is the longest. Each planner is handmade manually, so it additionally extends the production time. I also accept orders for covers with the buyer's logo. This mostly means designing the entire cover from scratch. So it’s quite time consuming and requires knowledge of many design programs.
TWTS: On that note, are there any spreads or layouts that you like to regularly use in your own journal? Do you prefer a blank journal or a planner with a set layout?
Kate: Hard question! I am a person who uses several planners (I know ...). I love simple dot pages. I can get creative and do any kind of layout on such pages. When I don't have time for that I use week-dots layout. It's cool enough to have a simple weekday table on one side and dotted on the other side so you can get creative too!
TWTS: Looking at your social media, it seems that you're always busy experimenting with new designs and creations -- that seems like a lot of work to balance! I'd love to know if there is a particular organization tip or method that you apply to your daily life?
Kate: Thank you very much! I always try to surprise my followers! It is not easy because a lot has already been invented and done by other creators. Constantly experimenting with bujo layouts, as you mentioned, often means long working hours. I try to spend a few hours each day on creative work. I like to set a timer for various tasks. For example, I plan that I have 2 hours to make a new layout. I set the phone alarm and during this time, I do not make any other tasks. I only do one thing at a time. This means that I do not get distracted quickly and all tasks scheduled for certain days are all successfully completed.
TWTS: I'd also love to learn a bit about your stationery collection. Do you have any essential stationery items that you can't be productive without?
Kate: Yes! My collection is endless, but I am most addicted to sticky notes and colorful markers! Whenever I'm in an art shop, I buy new colors! They help me to remember and highlight important things. For sticky notes, I always do them myself. I come up with different shapes and sizes. I always print them on my small printer and use them in my planner.
TWTS: Lastly, where can our readers learn more about you and your work?
Thank you to Kate for answering our questions and sharing your work with us. Be sure to check @madetoplan on Instagram