Jess & Jason Holdaway from FRANK Stationery
Jess and Jason are the couple (professionally and personally) behind the ‘Buy one, Give one’ business that is FRANK Stationery. Their story, beliefs and WHY is so inspirational and they are making an incredible difference on the lives of kids in our community…their product range is gorgeous and we love to support, in our own small way, enterprises with real purpose.
Why are you doing what you do/motivation to start your business?
The way we see it is, a healthy community is better for everyone. We are firm believers in community and the role we can play in taking care of each other. When we lift each other up, we lift ourselves up. 🙋♀️
Our story started all the way back in 2006 when a friend sent a brief email to say “Check out this new business that has just started”. It was a business who 6 months before had just launched a One for One shoe company. It was like a light went on inside of us and we had an immediate connection to the idea that businesses can be a force for good. The seed of the idea was planted.🌳At the time we didn’t know what to do with the idea or how we could apply it in our own lives, but we knew it was a concept that we just loved! Social problems being solved through business.
This seed kept growing until one evening in 2012, we sat down for dinner and accidentally switched on a documentary about Child Poverty in New Zealand. Totally unaware that poverty like this even existed in NZ, we sat there in shock, not really believing what we were seeing. The part that shocked us the most, was that this poverty was happening so close to where we were living. How could New Zealand children be experiencing such hardship just down the road from us, and why didn’t we know about it until now?
So we went out to see for ourselves, visiting schools and talking to teachers about the challenges their students & families face. The stories were heart-stopping, tragic, unjust and frustrating. We watched children leaving schools with no shoes, no backpacks, no schoolbooks and no jumpers in the middle of winter, the basic tools they needed for an education.
This is when we began brainstorming how we could apply the same “business for change” concept we had heard about in 2006, and find a way to easily enable others like us to make a genuine difference to the lives of these children. We decided to adopt the Buy One, Give One model and sell beautifully designed stationery that would give back stationery supplies and school books to the children that needed them most. It was then, from the dining table of our little house, that FRANK Stationery was born.
Everything we create has been designed & written with an intention behind it. Whether it’s our Diaries and Planners reminding you to be present, The Beautiful Thoughts Journal helping you to think more beautifully or our To Do Book simply getting you on top of your tasks, we believe in the power of our products to not only transform your day but the lives of children in need.
It’s been an incredible journey so far. We’re so grateful for the customers who’ve supported us and helped us to dream big and grow this idea into the social business it is today.
🎉To date, we’ve given back over 45,000 books and we’re so proud of the impact this has had and for all that is to come! 🎉
How did you decide on your brand/business name/any specific meaning behind it?
We spent a long time trying to find the right name for our business. We landed on FRANK because that’s Jason grandfathers name. He was our inspiration because he loved journaling and documenting his life. He had this little room in his home where he painting, drew and journaled. This was Jason’s memories of him as a child.
Frank also means upfront, straightforward and honest. Those values rung true when we set up the model of the business. For every item you buy, we give a school book to a child in need. Simple, clear and upfront!
Biggest lesson you’ve learnt in business?
Follow your gut. Your intuition is always speaking to you. Listen to it. If something is feeling off - follow that thought, don’t brush over it thinking it’s just nerves. Trust your body & heart about what it’s telling you!
Running your own business has its challenges, but every time we’ve handed a school book to a child who needed it, our hearts and hands felt the importance of carrying on, of making this business work, so that it can sustainably give back to the future of New Zealand.
Got a tip for the best way to use/consume your product?
Consume our products honestly. We don’t create our planners or to do lists so that you’ll be insanely productive or so that you can push yourself to another level you haven’t yet reached. We create them to help you sink deeper into the present moment, to have more compassion for yourself now, and to find a little more contentment in the moment you’re in. If you can’t love where you’re at right now, you’re not going to ever love where you’re at, even when you reach that dream you’ve been working so hard for. So first things first, pause, breathe, appreciate then go ahead and journal, plan and schedule. A hot cup of tea and nice breath of fresh air helps a lot.
What are some small things that make your day?
A kiss and a cuddle from our little boy can do wonders for the soul.
A good podcast makes me really happy! We constantly have music playing and I love coming across a song that really resonates, also bacon and eggs for breakfast is just too good to pass up.
What takes up too much of your time?
Spending time with our son! We are so lucky that we work from home which means we get to spend a lot of one on one time with our son. Usually it’s lots of cuddles in the morning, then we have breakfast together. We then spend a lot of time in the sand pit!! I love that it takes up too much time though
Favourite thing to do to relax/unwind?
We love going to the beach. Like most NZers it’s where we reset, clear our minds and get sunburnt!
Top on the list is reading a good book and having a hot bath!
What are you most grateful and thankful for in your life?
One of the biggest things we are constantly grateful for is the legacy of people that have gone before us, specifically our families. We have a son, and we now see the support network that it takes to raise him and it has illuminated the ways in which we were incredibly privileged in our upbringing. We are grateful for the brave decisions our ancestors made, the way they took care of their mental health, their generous choices that still ripple through our lives today as well as the family values that we carry within our hearts. All of these have culminated in a belief in ourselves that we can make a difference. All these hidden treasures that are handed down to us from our families barely get any credit in our world today and so we are really working on bringing awareness to these and being grateful for them. It helps us see our families in a different light and helps us have more compassion with ourselves and others. Never underestimate the small moves and choices that someone makes, it really does have impacts on generous that follow. Did you know that scientists have discovered that grief/trauma can be inherited through three generations after the event? This shines a small light on what we inherit from our families and why it’s important to be grateful for what they did right as that also ripples across our lives today.
What TV show has you hooked at the moment?
We just finished Homeland and are now hooked on Making A Murderer Season 2. We also love shows like Project Runway, Big Mouth and The Good Place. But more than that I am a podcast freak and listen to multiple episodes a day while I work.
If you could invite three famous people for cocktails and canapes - who would they be?
This is such a hard one as there are so many wonderful people who are on earth! How do we choose?
Also I’m useless and canapes and cocktails so it would have to be crowd that’s happy with a good old cheese platter and gin & tonics!
Barak Obama - We think he would have lots of really interesting insights to so many topics. We would ask him about changing the world, what things are actually effective, how to be a great leader while still being a great person, what’s the worst thing he ever saw in a person, what’s the best thing he ever saw in a person. Etc.
For the good vibes, we would invite Steve Carrell. He would be such a good time and we would love to know more about his background and his perspective on simple things like fatherhood, marriage, career etc. Also because we are obsessed with The Office.
And to balance out the party we would invite – Hillary Mcbride. She is on one of my favourite podcast hosts and also brings the most incredible angles and perspectives to different topics. She’s a therapist, researcher, speaker and writer but has a feminist tilt to her work that is super inspiring. I am currently reading her book Mothers, Daughters, and Body Image: Learning to Love Ourselves as We Are.