Written by Dyslexicdayna
Happy Birthday to Socolo. It has been a wild year, so we thought it was a good time for some reflection.
Dana: Tell us a bit about yourself?
Chantal: My name is Chantal and I am the founder and owner of Socolo, which is an inclusive stationery business based in the UK.
D: How did it all start?
C: I studied graphic design and media at university and therefore, I had an existing passion for book making, printing methods and in general, the stationary world. I also enjoyed this market as a dyslexic and Irlen syndrome consumer but often felt like my needs were not accounted for, i.e. everything was printed on white paper and coloured paper was used seasonally as opposed to all year round. After graduating I got swept up in the corporate world and soon realised that it was not conducive to my neurodivergent mindset. So I left, and began the process of becoming a business owner. My first business venture was in the beauty industry… but once again there were many hurdles to overcome which were directly linked to my neurodivergent difficulties; expiry dates, constantly changing legislation, health and safety policies ect… one night feeling completely exhausted and overwhelmed I hunted online for a notebook with coloured paper to help me with the process and found nothing… I thought to myself:
‘At 29 years old, I'm crying over paper! How ridiculous!’
…and then it just clicked. I knew what I had to do! I ditched the beauty business and got Socolo up and running within 6 months. Reflectivity, I learnt a lot from the failures of setting up a beauty business. This learning meant I was able to grow Socolo to bigger and better and I've never looked back!
D: What has been your biggest challenge on this journey?
C: An ongoing challenge is managing time and the logistical side of the business, particularly getting pricing quotes from printing companies. They change quotes frequently due to the current paper crisis and this makes it really difficult to keep up with updating budgets for new products and acquiring paper as a dyslexic! Nevertheless, I am able to offset these difficulties with adjustments I provide myself such as adequate software, self compassion and hiring additional help.
D: What has been a moment of pride on this journey?
C: That's a difficult question because I have moments of pride everyday and try to practise daily gratitude, but a significant moment was reaching 100 notebooks sold! And more recently having a massive chain request my notebooks for their store- even though I wasn’t ready at the time- it was such a confidence boost!
Another moment of pride was starting World Unmasking Day. I was able to collaborate with other beautiful neurodivergent minds and the day was really successful and we got so much positive feedback. People were so kind and supportive, and people came together to support each other and create positive change. I have learnt so much from the first World Unmasking day and I can't wait to do it annually.
D: What are your goals for Socolo in the upcoming year?
C: Here at Socolo, we are working hard on making the next year its best yet (I can finally say we without meaning me, as I now have a couple of talented freelancers working with Socolo)! I can’t tell you all the details but I can say we will be adding two additional colours to our existing collection! We also have a very exciting collaboration coming out soon! A goal for the next year is work on the PR side of the business and hopefully obtain some magazine or newspaper space.
D: What advice do you have for budding dyslexic business owners?
C: I am learning everyday - the lessons never stop! But one thing is choosing a business that truly aligns with every fibre of your being and life experience. This alignment makes for a genuine connection with people and consumers, as well as it also keeps the fire alive! Any problem feels fixable even when days are tough. It doesn't matter what the idea or business is as long as it aligns with you, I believe anyone can achieve success.