Holly Walker on vulnerability in business – The Seahawk

The rise of small businesses in recent years is largely attributable to a growing demand for specialty products. From soaps to pottery to jewelry, customers are finding a more personalized touch in the handcrafted products that small business owners provide. The small business world in general applies a degree of passion to business, allowing owners to turn their hobbies or personal interests into profit. They provide not just a product, but an experience that is often as dear to them as it is to their customers.

One small business owner who exemplifies this sentiment is Holly Walker, a current junior at UNCW who majors in creative writing. It’s actually her writing that she’s selling. As the name suggests, Holly’s Typewriter Poetry offers an extremely unique product: custom typewritten poems. Just one year into its development, its work has touched the lives of clients in Wilmington and beyond.

Holly’s Typewriter Poetry. (Courtesy of Holly Walker)

Walker officially opened his business during quarantine with the intersection of two distinct inspirations. The first came from a friend who had started his own small business on Instagram, sparking Walker’s initial interest in the idea. The second came in his desire to distinguish himself as a writer.

“I was trying to figure out how to get myself out of this for a while,” Walker said. “It’s so hard to do that in college, or at any age, really. I suddenly had all this time to think about it. At the time, poetry wasn’t my forte and I wanted to get better. So I thought, what if I took this typewriter that I had and started a poetry business with it? I went to my personal Instagram and posted about it, saying that I was selling typed poems for two dollars. I received about twenty orders.

Walker originally came to UNCW interested in fiction, but it was this desire to improve at poetry that led her to change direction. “It was hard for me at first,” Walker said of her relationship with the genre. ” I did not understand. But as I started doing it in my creative writing classes, I realized how much fun it was. What first intimidated me was the structure, form and rhyme most associated with poetry. But it’s more than that – its main purpose is to make people feel things.

With a newfound appreciation fueling him, Walker honed his poetic skills for the success of his business. She has worked to create a product line encompassing several forms of her typed poems. She currently offers love notes and fortunes on vintage paper, as well as a nostalgic series of typed postcards. In the markets she specifically frequents, Walker sells lines of poetry for twenty-five cents.

However, the heart of her craft remains in the bespoke poetry she offers. Online, the client gives her a prompt and she takes time to think about the final product. In the markets, however, his writing is spot on. His poetic process allows him to work effectively under either time constraint, producing not only a quality result for each client, but one that touches them. It is his focus on authenticity that accomplishes this.

An example of Holly’s typewriter poetry. (Courtesy of Holly Walker)

“When I write a poem, I first jot down the message people need. I think of that person and ask myself, what do I want them to take away from this poem? Then I take invites them to this approach. Sometimes I draw from my experiences with a situation they are facing. Other times people ask about a topic I have no connection to. In both cases, however, what I incorporate from myself as a poet, these are genuine emotions,” Walker said.

“If you write a poem — or anything, really — and the feelings and passions behind it seem fabricated, people are going to point. My goal is to be real. I want my readers to be able to resonate with the work I give them, so I bring them to life through my own emotions, my vulnerability. It is thanks to this creative approach that I can connect with them.

This empathetic approach is what sets his company apart. While other small businesses often focus on a product, what Walker really sells is a connection. His passion for his art and for the emotion it expresses extends to his clients. It’s something they notice about her and draw them in, demonstrating the unique degree of connection her company possesses.

“When I write my work, I hear life stories from strangers, some in one word, some in much more detail,” Walker said. “I think my business creates an environment where customers are welcome to give their heart and soul to me, so that I can create something for them from myself. It’s a beautiful exchange. With other types of businesses, you don’t necessarily need to know your customers, it’s mostly about what you’re selling, but there’s a level of vulnerability already built into mine.

Holly Walker sets up a table to sell typewriter poems. (Courtesy of Holly Walker)

This personal connection has greatly contributed to the growth of his business. Just as she emphasizes authentic interactions with her customers, she emphasizes the same in her social media marketing. “When I started my Twitter no one was following me, obviously, but I started posting like I was talking to someone. I connected with other artists by really being a part of my life. J did the same with my Instagram, which I used to find other Wilmington-based businesses. I went to one of The Plant Outpost’s pop-ups, spoke with them, and they m invited to do my first market. I marketed myself by being myself, and it worked. It all comes down to me wanting to be real.

Walker regularly updates her Instagram and Twitter with the dates of the markets she attends. His pop-up stand frequents The Plant Outpost pop-ups, Crafted Outpost monthly markets, Curated on Castle and others. Her schedule isn’t set, so follow her on social media to find out where to find her next. Customers can also place orders through her website, where she often offers her latest items.

Holly’s Typewriter Poetry expands beyond its small business label. The basis of art is an exchange of ideas and emotions between its creator and the viewers. In Walker’s business model, however, viewers are welcomed into the creation. Her poetry is something she shares with her clients, offering them the expression of their own emotions, experiences or simple fantasies. It’s one of the most refreshing ways to do business in a culture that’s often more about consuming than connecting.

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