Polly Payne Willoughby: Creator of Horacio Printing

Polly Payne Willoughby: Creator of Horacio Printing

I spoke with Polly Payne Willoughby about her company Horacio Printing – a Christian faith-based planner. She had the idea to create a planner in August 2014, executed on the idea and sold out of her first production run within three months. For the last 18 months, Horacio was a nights & weekend project for Polly. Then in early February 2016,  weeks she decided to take the “entrepreneurial plunge” and is now pursuing Horacio  Printing full-time.

Horacio Printing came about when Polly, needing a way to focus her efforts on things that were uplifting and positive to her life, read [The Artisan Soul] by Erwin McMacnus. (“http://www.erwinmcmanus.com) He says that our minds and our imagination are divinely created and that we can create something out of nothing.” Polly explained further:

“As humans, we have the ability to imagine things that aren’t here, and turn the impossible into the possible. You can dream up things, and create them. Erwin encourages you to find your passion, find your focus, and then pursue it, find mentors that will critique you. One of the coolest things he said was to find your distractions, build an exit plan, and then execute it. I thought “that seems so simple!” so I sat down on my bed at like 1 a.m. and I drew a circle. Next, I drew a bubble chart of everything that wad distracting me at the moment. From then on, I started marking things off of my list emotionally. I realized, i needed a tool to plan, to build margin, and do the things I wanted to.”

The concept of “Margin” came up several times in the interview.  I asked Polly what it meant to her and how it applied to Horacio:

“Life is always expanding. You’re always going to be taking on more and more. For example as a human, you meet more people as you age. As our lives and responsibilities expand, we have to expand our mental capabilities and stay fresh. We have to be renewed in our mind, in order to handle what is thrown at us. You have to build in margin in your schedule, mind and wallet to do what you’re supposed to do in life.

For example if your friend calls you with a dire crisis, and you have created margin with your finances and in schedule you will be able to help them. You can be spontaneous to what you are called to do in any moment. But if you live under the stress of always being 3 steps behind with a mindful of your to do that are consistently self seeking you will not be able to help and you will be stressed.

Victor Frankel said “The root of anxiety is unfulfilled responsibility” – mind blowing, right? Unfulfilled responsibility can extend beyond a looming ‘to do list’ and actually be more of a unfilled calling or passion in life. A lot of people suffer from the thought of “I’m created for more then this.  That is why building margin and setting priorities, because by me setting up margin I was able to do two jobs and excel.”

The concept of a physical print product highlighted an important point in our discussion, and in how Horacio Printing works. Before going into Horacio printing fully – not just Saturdays and at night during the week – Polly was working in Advertising Technology. There is a large part of the advertising community that believes print advertising is dying, as digital advertising allows brands to analyze their strategies. Polly explained that print was a central point to Horacio’s success:

“Paper is important because a lot of research shows that when you write something down you remember it better. There are theories that I believe that when you write down a dream you give it power. 

In the same way, when you write down something that is a distraction, you can have power over it. For example, when I write down that TV is being a distraction, and I want to focus on painting, when I get home from work and my initial reaction is to grab the remote, then I remember – “no I said that I wasn’t going to do that,  I said that I was going to paint” –  then that makes my heart happy.”

Two weeks prior to the interview, Polly had finally taken the jump and decided to work work full time on Horacio Printing. I asked her what was going through her mind the night before she was going to start doing that.

“I was pretty congested, so there was a lot in my head, so I was super glad to be working from home – ha! Seriously, I was elated. Despite being sick, I was so excited to set my day. In the past, I had Saturdays where I did Horacio full time.  I would dream about that Saturday being my Monday. So, my first Monday was just one of those Saturdays.

Her Saturdays were not leisure days. Every Saturday, she was honing the Ethos of Horacio Printing – that every person has a God-given right to live intentionally and design their lives as they want – and building out her team. She is drawn to creative people – artists, calligraphers – which is where the designs for Horacio Printing has come from. But, a business is not just creativity and calligraphy – so Polly had to learn the business:

“I’m starting to learn that you’re supposed to hire people that fill in your gaps so you can live in your strengths. So I need people who are really good at grammar, dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s, fulfillment, accounting, because I’m doing it, but I’m not the best at it.”

What comes with running the business is interacting with the Horacio Community, I asked her what was most surprising about your customers.:

“How much they loved the product. I was blown away. I get emails and messages from Facebook all the time from people wanting to tell  how they opened it up and fell in love, started crying, or they just had this moment or that moment [with the planner]. DawnChere Wilkerson has a church in Miami, and she opened it up and started crying – her grandfather was a preacher in Louisiana, had preached for 30 years in Shreveport Louisiana. Behind him, in gold letters “the best is yet to come” – she opened it up and there the saying was. The things that God has done with it to people…. These people have these moments with it that blow me away.

“Coming from an ad tech background – you open an email and nobody has these moments. But when I open my Horacio email, its like birds fly out – total joy. Its really powerful what people have done with it. People have started businesses! In the future I want to start highlighting community members that have done something on their bucket list and tell their story. That has been the most exciting thing – how it has moved people, and give them hope.”

Connecting with DawnChere is just one way that Polly has decided to spread Horacio Printing’s name.

“My first year, I sent out 15 planners to influential preachers and their wives with a handwritten letter telling them what I admired them and when I’d heard them preach last and what stuck out to me. That was a really great way to excel – I found my people and send them a personalized note, and that has been our biggest advertising push. I’ve bought Facebook campaigns – that’s really simple.

Tapping into the influence of these individuals helped Polly exhaust all of the planners she created in 2014. In 2015, She did a Kickstarter campaign, raising over $20,000 from over 355 people.  For the 2016 calendar, she sold out again. With so much extra demand, she decided to order more planners, and added a touch of genius to help her community stay engaged while the planners were being printed:

“…We made the first 20 pages of the planner available for those people with a free PDF. So, they could print it out, go ahead and start dreaming, writing, re-focusing, start planning and then put it in the planner once they got it.  The truth is that once people get the planner, they’re really anxious to start writing on it. they’re like “omg, its so pretty, do I use a pen or a pencil” you know, its intimidating. so its nice to have a piece of paper to print out at home and start writing and be messy. If you look at my planner, it is messy – life is messy, art is messy. Its OK to be messy.” 

Life is messy, and Horacio Printing is meant to help you embrace, direct and focus whatever messiness you have in your life to create progress and achieve your goals. Polly’s got some big goals for Horacio Printing this year, too:

“I want to be stocked in a few big bookstores. I want to sell 4000 planners – I think we will sell a lot more than that. I have a couple things I want to create this year – I want to create “the canvas” where i take the beginning of the planner, the workbook, and expand on it. I want to turn it into a fully-fledged workbook of creating your life and re-tapping into the passions you had as a child. I want to build a marriage planner. for people who are thinking of getting married and for people who are are married. I also want to raise $50,000 for A21. ”

A21 was created by Christine Caine to help combat human trafficking:

“I had been reading Christine Caine’s novels, I’ve heard her podcast, I’ve heard her preach – she started A21 in Greece. Now they’ve got 11 different offices. they not only take in women that I’ve been trafficked, they work with lawyers, local law enforcement, they train TSA employees to spot it in the airports. they’re also been working with the refugee crisis in Greece. I’ve fallen in love with what they’re doing…we’ve been able to raise over 10K for A21.”

To conclude our interview, I asked Polly to issue a challenge to listeners of The Fierce Focus Show:

Get a notebook & pen and draw a circle. Bubble out all of your current passions, focuses, daily obligations, and distractions in 4 different sections around the circle. then take a cold hard look at it, add in a few passions you haven’t done in a few years that you’ve let go of, and then figure out how you can delete something and add something that makes you happy that you haven’t done in the last few years. it is a small delete and a small addition. Then you get the ball rolling – maybe you can delete something else and add another passion to your day to day tasks.

If you’re interested in learning more about Horacio Printing, follow Polly on Twitter: @horacioprinting, Periscope @horacioprinting, Instagram, @horacioprinting, or check out their website http://www.horacioprinting.com


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