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Daily Inspiration: Meet Alison Rose Guzman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alison Rose Guzman.

Hi Alison, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I’ve been a lover of words and writing for as long as I can remember—majoring in English in college, obsessively collecting greeting cards and stationery, and writing letters to friends and family since I was 11 years old.

In 2017, I started making word art for my own home. I wrote my own whimsical definitions of words and family names and hung them in nearly every room in my house.

A few people started asking where I got them from or if they could buy them so I thought, “Hmmm, maybe I should make this a side business.” I spent a few months researching and creating products and decided to open Alison Rose Vintage on Etsy. I started with maybe 10 or 15 prints and notecards and now 4.5 years later, I have over 300 products, my own website, and sell wholesale to 30 retail shops.

After I opened my shop, people would ask me if I planned to work on this business full-time. I would always say no because that wasn’t my intention starting out and I could have never afforded to live outside of Boston without my corporate salary. But then in May 2020, my sister died unexpectedly.

Even though we hadn’t lived near each other in years, I felt an immense sense of loneliness and a need for even more purpose in my life. I had heard “Life is short” many times, but it really hit me. I started to question everything—why was I living so far away from family? Why wasn’t I giving my business—a business that fills my heart every single day—my full attention?

So last year I quit my corporate job, moved from Massachusetts to East Tennessee, and now work on Alison Rose Vintage full-time!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Are you even a small business if you haven’t had a complete and total meltdown at least once a year? Haha.

The biggest challenge is having no idea what I’m doing. I am the CEO, CMO, CFO, COO, CTO, photographer, copywriter, and customer service rep (shout out to my parents for helping with large orders and big shows, and my dogs Shiloh and Max for being my Chief Cuteness Officer and Head of Security!).

I mostly wing it and rely on instinct to make decisions. I’m learning as I go, but it’s completely overwhelming when I think about it too hard—am I sourcing from the right places, will USPS deliver on time or at all, how do I get more followers, email subscribers, and web traffic? The list goes on and on.

I try to center myself on the rewards. The rewards are endless: phenomenal customers, wonderful wholesale partners, and a wildly talented artisan community that I get to be a part of now.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I define myself as an old soul with a generous heart. I’m deeply passionate about words and giving so Alison Rose Vintage is truly an extension of who I am.

It’s a shop filled with thoughtful, vintage-style word art printed on handmade paper and cardstock, as well as beautiful antique books. I write all of the definitions and some of the quotes and poems myself, and also print custom items like wedding vows and song lyrics.

I’m proud of the more than 1,000 5-star reviews I have on Etsy and all of the beautiful words people write about me, my business, and my products. I am really grateful that I get to pour my heart and soul into something I cherish, and other people cherish it too. Nothing compares to the intimacy I get to share with my customers and followers, the new products I get to create or curate, and all the words I get to write and share.

I’m also proud of everyone I partner and collaborate with–from the amazingly talented artist, Patricia Shaw, who paints all of the illustrations for my products, to Kelsey Pike from Sustainable Paper+Craft who individually makes each sheet of beautiful cotton rag/abaca fiber paper I use for my prints, to every single retail shop that carries my products.

I made the decision at the beginning that I would be as open and vulnerable as possible in my social media and blog posts. I’ve experienced a lot of joy and pain just in the 4.5 years I’ve been in business, and I think that comes through in the products I create and the words I write. Words have the ability to build us up or tear us down, and I want the word art that I create to be a part of uplifting others.

The superheroes in our lives deserve appreciation. Our friends and colleagues who are working and parenting and taking care of themselves need extra encouragement. Those in the thick of grief need our comfort and support.

I want others to feel comforted and inspired by my humanity and giving spirit, and to also remember that we can always love ourselves and others a little bit more.

Do you have any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
When I was 11 years old, I moved from West Virginia to Ohio. I had a very hard time with the move because I missed my family and friends so much. At that time making long-distance phone calls could get expensive.

So I started writing letters. Sending and receiving letters made me feel close to people that were hundreds of miles away. I wrote to my great aunt and childhood best friends and every time I received a piece of mail from them, it would feel like a big hug, helping me adjust to the distance between us.

Later on, I started writing to my sister when she went to college in another state, I wrote to high school friends when we all went to different colleges, I wrote to colleagues after they left jobs we worked at together, and today I still write to my great aunt, childhood best friends, as well as other family, friends, and pen pals I’ve only met virtually.

After my sister died and we were going through her belongings, we came across a giant box of every letter and card anyone ever sent her—including all of the letters I wrote to her when I was younger.

Not only did this make my snail mail loving heart happy and bring back a flood of memories, but it also reminded me that people truly appreciate receiving these little pieces of love, and they hold onto them.

It makes me grateful that little 11-year-old me started something that I’ve carried with me my whole life and now into my business—a passion for connecting with others and making cards and prints that I know will be cherished for many years to come.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Alison Rose from Alison Rose Vintage, Alyssa Thiel from PCB Home, and Autumn Hassett from On Pointe Digital

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