Samantha Moon founded Lunar Ink, an online wedding invitation and stationary boutique, after a potentially sobering realization: “I wasn’t very satisfied with my wedding.” So she made it her business to help other wedding couples stay satisfied with theirs, starting with the invitations. Her role is part artistic advisor, part counselor, and—reading between the lines—part diplomat. With two young kids at home, Lunar Ink is a 24/7 gig, and Samantha loves creatively responding to frequently high-pressure situations. “When you’re getting married, it’s stressful,” she says. “You have to talk through issues. That’s what we do.” (Happy to report that if Samantha’s wedding was less than perfect, her marriage has trended positive: “I get a lot of support from my husband. …It’s wonderful to have that support at home.”)
How did you launch Lunar Ink?
My education is actually in biology. I went to a liberal arts school, and one great thing about liberal arts schools is that they teach you more than just your degree.
I wasn’t very satisfied with my wedding, looking back on it. I decided that I had an interest in invitations. I wanted to help other brides find something that was priced well and fit what they wanted. My husband’s grandmother had sold invitations for many years; she advised me how to get started. That’s how I started Lunar Ink.
What’s Lunar Ink’s specific focus?
What sets us apart is the fact that we’re an online business that treats you more like a boutique business would. I get to know each bride who orders from me, and I get to know their tastes and styles. I work as an advisor and sometimes more like a counselor. When you’re getting married, it’s stressful, even when it’s not that hard. Lots of times, there are questions on etiquette: “Should I or should I not invite these people?” You have to talk through issues. That’s what we do. We’re more like a boutique experience, but it’s online, so you can shop whenever you want. I work 24/7. Whenever emails or calls come in, that’s when we’re there.
How do keep work-life balance?
It’s not easy. I have two small children—one is three and one is almost eight months—and there’s the craziness with that. What I try to do is devote certain times of the day to each item I need to do. If there’s calls coming in, AnswerConnect handles them for me during certain periods of the day. After-hours calls I deal with as I have time; lots of times, that’s late at night, when the kids are in bed. I’m kind of a night owl. For a long time, when the baby was little, I was working at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. It’s the way it worked out.
I get a lot of support from my husband. He’s a good guy. On the weekends, when I want him to watch the kids for me, he’s there. It’s wonderful to have that support at home.
Does he work from home?
Yes; he works at home, during normal business hours. I work anything and everything in between. I managed to hire on summer help—two new employees—for the busy season. They’re both part-time. One is a sitter to watch the kids for a couple hours, and the other one assists me with other things.
You said you help brides with wedding invitations. Do you usually work with just one partner?
Generally, it’s the bride contacting us, but I also sometimes deal with the groom or the parents of the bride or groom. I’ve also dealt with bridesmaids. I’ve dealt with wedding planners. But generally, brides themselves like to be in control of this part of their wedding because the invitation sets the tone for the ceremony. Is it going to be fancy or casual? Where is to going to be: in the same town? Is it a destination wedding? Most brides like to be in direct control, though of course, there’s always the exception to the rule.
I also work with [same-sex] partners—lesbian, gay, transsexual—as well. We help everybody. Everybody gets treated the same.
What are some challenges you’ve faced with Lunar Ink?
One of the biggest is staying up-to-date with the current wedding trends. It’s amazing how many changes there are, just in a year, especially with color and designs.
For awhile, we’ve been talking about launching our own product line instead of being a retailer for one of the companies we work for. The challenge is finding time to work on that and source our print shop and learning the technology. There’s a lot of demand for custom designs. I have to start learning design software.
The fact is, AnswerConnect frees me up to learn and do those things. They can take messages; that way, when I call back my clients, I have a targeted way of addressing their concern, because AnswerConnect has already let me know what it is.
How much time do you spend on marketing?
That’s hard to say. Generally, we focus on marketing at a certain times of the year, usually between Thanksgiving and the new year. The rest of the year, usually, we’ve already gotten our marketing plan into production. Bridal season starts in January. The high season runs from January into May. Then after May, you’ve typically finished, with just last-minute ordering into fall. So the bulk of my time in the off-season is working on marketing.
What do you love most about your small business?
It lets me be creative. I really love that. I see a lot of things that other people have come up with. And if a bride likes one invitation, and the price isn’t right or she wants to make changes, we do custom-ordering. That allows me to get creative. That’s what I love. I love the fact that I can write and research about it and let my imagination move with the business.