We had the good fortune of connecting with Cheryl Yul-Behrenwaldt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cheryl, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I never thought I would be here, to be a small business owner/entrepreneur. It always seemed so foreign to me, the idea of doing “my own thing”. In the years prior, I’ve worked in an office environment, which I loved and thrived in, so it never occurred to me that I would leave this world. And then two things happened at about the same time … I had my third child ( so at that point, I had three kids under the age of 5 ) and this idea of developing a modern tote bag for moms was finally coming to life. At that point, I needed more flexibility in my schedule, I could not be tied to being in an office anymore. My life, with three young kids, didn’t allow for it and although I could have made it work, I wasn’t motivated anymore. The Notebooks & Honey bag, which was just a thought in my head for a couple of years, was at a turning point and I needed to make a decision as to whether I wanted to forge ahead. I was at a crossroads and it seemed to be the optimal time for me to do something different. I had an opportunity to bring to life a product that I believed in so deeply that I knew that if I didn’t take this risk, I would have a life time of regrets. I switched to freelance design work ( commercial interior design) and started up my own brand/business with the development of Notebooks & Honey. So this was my process behind starting my own business, I needed more flexibility and believed in my brand so much that I knew I had to just go for it.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The Notebooks & Honey bag came about because when I was in the market for a diaper bag, I could not find one that did not scream “diaper bag over here!”. The material, shape, too obvious bottle holder pockets, colors, etc. were just all wrong. Frankly, I thought I was too cool to carry a diaper bag, plus I couldn’t imagine spending so much money for a bag that I would use for such a short period of time. I looked when I was pregnant with my first baby, second and third, at which point I threw my hands in the air. I gave up, there wasn’t the perfect bag that had all the things that suited my needs. I wanted the bag to be more than a diaper bag; I wanted it to be large enough to be a carryall bag, to hold a laptop, to have bottle holders in the inside and to be stylish. That is when I decided to design my own bag. I knew that I could do this. I had gone to design school and believe it or not, drawing up a tech pack for product design is very similar to drawing up a floor plan. You have to have a good sense of proportions, ratios, spacial awareness, technical skills to put thought on paper, ability to problem solve, focus on details, think 2D and 3D and have a good design / aesthetic sense. Afterwards, you have to know how to execute your plan; sourcing, working with vendors, timelines, more problem solving, etc. All these skills are very transferable from interior design to conceptualizing and designing a product. So, going from interior design to product design was a breeze, I loved that I had the flexibility to literally do my own design work; I had so much control of the process. It was amazing to see your work come to life. As a designer/artist, and of course, I’m generalizing, but I don’t think I’m far off … what you want is for your product/art to be shared with the world, to be able to reach people and connect with people. For me, I wanted people like me, women that are in need a cool tote bag, to look no further.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love this question. I love thinking about about my next adventures, my next meal and broadly sharing my love of Atlanta with anyone that wants to visit. I love being outside and exploring neighbors, in any city/new place that I am in, so I would definitely suggest exploring the Atlanta Beltline and stopping by the many restaurants, breweries, shops along the way (including, Ponce City Market, Krog Street Market ). You can bike, skate, run, walk the Beltline and if you go during Happy Hour, you have to stop at my favorite biergarten at Lady Bird Mess Hall. If you want cool neighborhoods to explore, I would check out Little Five Points, West Midtown, East Atlanta Village, Virginia Highlands, Midtown and Decatur. Making your way through the many craft breweries around Atlanta is also fun, there are so many in and around the city; my favorites in the city are Monday Night Brewing and Roadtrip Brewery and my favorite slightly outside the city ( in Athens, GA) is Creature Comforts. There are also so many wonderful restaurants in Atlanta, but the area that is very special is Buford Highway. This area has a plethora of Asian and Latin cuisines, it would take more than a week to explore all of the restaurants in this part of town. For some history and culture, I would definitely recommend that you visit the MLK Museum, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Jimmy Carter Museum and Atlanta History Center. Last but not least, if you love the outdoors, then you have to explore the many hiking travels just 30 minutes in any direction of Atlanta.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out to my husband. Notebooks & Honey would not have to happened without his support and his constant cheerleading. He believed in the product from the very beginning, he was 100% behind my decision to be a small business owner, he happily takes the kids when I go to fairs/markets, he pushes me to take risks and he’s there to say “yay” when orders come in. Sometimes it’s the big things, but it’s also the little things.