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Life & Work with Michaelene Sandberg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michaelene Sandberg.

Hi Michaelene, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was standing under the fluorescent lights at our local craft store nine years ago. It was at the height of wedding season and I found myself in the aisle with three other brides looking for wedding invites. I can imagine we were all looking for the set that would perfectly encompass our dreams, theme, color, and everything else a bride hoped to find when planning her wedding. Except, we didn’t find it. Instead, we were limited to the minimally designed white or cream cards that came in varieties of flowers, lines, or dots. Not exactly a blissful moment in wedding history. I thought “This can’t be it?” We all kindly picked up a set around each other, trying to not get the same option as the next girl, but knowing that it was very possible we had shared the same wedding invites as hundreds of other brides with the only difference being the information that we had to print ourselves. After picking my set, I added my own flare by designing elements that would help make it stand out and really match my theme, but I had an unfair advantage; I was just finishing my art degree, so a creative eye was definitely on my side.

I was thankful for the little bit of creativity I decided to embrace for those invites. But I wondered, “What did those other brides end up doing?”, “Were they creative with their store bought sets?”, “Did they jazz them up or leave them plain?”, and most importantly “Were they happy?”. I can’t really speak for those three other brides that day, but I know I didn’t feel special. Weddings are a time to celebrate a unique love story, the coming together of two people in love, and the wedding should emulate that happiness and joy starting with the stationary. That experience made me feel like I was supposed to fit within a mold and do what everyone else was doing and be okay with that, frankly I wasn’t. So after I graduated college I started QueenBee. My plan was to create invites that people would love. Stationary that truly showed off their personal style and celebrated them as a couple. The wedding invitation is the first sentence in a couple’s wedding story, it should excite guests and reassure them that missing out would be a mistake.

Within a day of sharing my idea of helping couples with a few friends, I booked my first bride. I poured my heart into her invites making sure she felt the way I wish I had. Every detail was perfect, and when I delivered her invites I was officially hooked. That was the real start to QueenBee. I continued to work with couples on wedding invites which would pour into thank you cards, then birth announcements, baby showers, and birthdays. I loved watching families grow through invites. But I felt my real joy was in helping couples feel like their love story was really being celebrated, so in 2020 I rebranded as QueenBee Design Studio and focused mainly on weddings and marriages. Because as much as I love a beautiful wedding, I also want to help couples cultivate a beautiful marriage. In addition to custom designed stationary and gifts, I share tips and advice about pre, during, and post-wedding life followed by relationship and marriage advice for couples. I really enjoyed using my creativity and my experience to help couples really thrive during and after their wedding day.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I wish I could say that it was a smooth road from that first bride, but I’d be lying. Choosing to work with couples in a highly stressful environment makes for difficult days. Every couple is different which means there’s an opportunity to learn from each one. Some of my biggest learning experiences were hard as they were happening, but they set me up for better days. In the first months of my business, I had a bride that had very specific instructions on every step of the design process, and though it took me twice as long to execute, I was able to get it all done just how she wanted. I printed all her invites, detail cards, maps, itinerary, and envelopes and shipped them off with pride.

A few days later, I got a phone call telling me the envelopes were 1/8″ too small. My heart sank. It was a dumb move on my part to not check everything together, but I didn’t. So I quickly got the right envelopes, reprinted and mailed them off. It was a big expense to swallow as a new business, but I needed to make sure that the relationships I was creating were based on more than just the dollar. I thought I had resolved the issue professionally and without too much added stress. But then I got a letter in the mail explaining how unprofessional I was, that I should have never made the mistake in first place and that if I wanted to stay in business, I better get an eye for the details. That was nine years ago and the words on that letter still sting. I’ve managed to deal with mistakes through the years made by both me and the client and have always found resolutions that worked for everyone. I’ve taken lessons like these and put checks in place and apply them to every order to make sure that no mistake occurs twice. I never want to be the reason why a couple feels extra stress during the planning process. My goal has always been to really listen to the client, let them share their ideas and story so I can create the invite without asking them to put extra effort into it.

When marriage blogging came into the picture, it really opened up a whole new world of struggles to learn from and navigate through. I didn’t foresee all the emotions that would try to hold me back when it came to sharing marriage advice on my platform. It’s one thing having a heart to heart with your best friends, but it proved to be a lot more difficult to be open and transparent about the struggles that can come with marriage on social media. But having experienced a failed marriage at a young age, followed by a year of therapy, I found my “failure” and journey started to become a road map for women seeking direction. I kept having the same conversation over and over again but with different women. I knew that holding it all in in fear of being real to my audience wasn’t serving them in any way. I decided to do “Real Talk” on IG where I shared what I learned in my past relationship, what my therapist taught me about myself, and how to support the women in your life that are dealing with struggle. I was particularly nervous about it all and doing it Live, but the response was overwhelmingly warm and accepting. So much so that I will continue to hold Live “Real Talks” in hopes of helping even just one girl. I know fear and mistakes will always be considered a struggle, but some of my greatest struggles have also been my greatest moments to grow and serve.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
From the start of my company, I always made it a point to design stationary for the couple. I loved helping people design an invite that was really meant for them, not some blank template where the details changed and that was it. I could see when I was working with a couple to nail down their specific theme and wants, my approach made people feel seen and special. That’s really been the goal from the start, in the wedding planning stage of their life or the marriage stage. I know my superpower has always been my ability to see things as they could be and not for what they are. When I meet with a couple, I literally start with a blank piece of paper in my head. I ask questions, listen to stories, pick up on their style, and design an invite based on those things. Not to say that I can’t design for a common trend, but I always find a way to tailor it to each couple. I want couples to not only love their invites now but for years to come so when/if their family grows they’ll be happy to show off their invites as part of their wedding story decades down the line. I know what it’s like to feel overlooked as a bride, so I don’t see my couples as a “job”, I look at them as a story, one that I get to play a very small role in, but a role I do not take lightly.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I feel like luck is everything and nothing at the same time. Yes, it’s easy to say that luck had a huge role in QueenBee. I mean, I have parents who encouraged my want for an art career, I found a university where I could major in both marketing and graphic design, I had classmates and professors that inspired new and creative work, I had friends who believed in me and shared my vision with their friends, a bride took a chance on a girl that only had big promises, and I had unknowingly created work relationships with high school friends that would come into play years later. I mean, I guess you could consider that all lucky. But I also know if I wasn’t willing to take on the full schedules, work the extra hours, read the books, study the techniques, make the connections, and love what I do, none of this would be here. My “work horse” work ethic, my very supportive husband and family, and my desire to help people have their best wedding and marriage doesn’t come from luck. That part is all the byproduct of me and my intentional doing. I mean you might even consider a failed marriage at a young age to be “bad luck”, and even though it was so hard while it was happening, it set me up to have an incredible marriage moving forward. It also gave me the courage and strength to help others that may find themself walking that path that I used to be stuck on. To me “luck” is like when you get on a bike and it’s the first push to get you going, unless you keep pedaling and do the work, you’ll eventually just fall over.

Pricing:

  • Standard Wedding Invite Suite Starts at $4.00
  • Save The Dates Start at $2.00
  • Bridal Gifts Start at $20.00
  • Wedding Signage starts $ 1.70

Contact Info:

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