The Delicate Pen Finds SCORE Mentor Advice Successful
When it occurred to actress Jane Labanz that she did not want to spend countless hours at auditions or acting in productions that kept her away from her Manhattan home for extended periods of time, she turned her talent to entrepreneurship to give her the freedom she needed.
To occupy her time while working as a “booth singer” off stage, Labanz began doing calligraphy after admiring the beauty of the art while leafing through a magazine. She soon found herself applying her own expression to the calligraphy she was self-teaching. When production cast members saw her work, they implored her to do their wedding and other one-off invitations.
It then occurred to Labanz that she could turn her talent into a business, giving her another artistic outlet, the income she needed, and the flexibility to choose acting gigs that fit her New York ambitions.
Labanz founded The Delicate Pen, which provides high-end calligraphy products for weddings and other special events. The Delicate Pen’s products have been showcased by Barbara Walters on TV’s “The View,” displayed at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and featured in numerous bride and wedding magazines, including Martha Stewart Living Wedding and New York Bride.
The Delicate Pen’s sales reached $150,000 in the first year and are now sold in more than 30 stores in the United States, Puerto Rico and Italy. Even though sales and marketing take up increasingly larger chunks of her time, Labanz still manages to do all the product hand-lettering herself. But she is now looking to hire a full-time marketer.
Her newly evolving lifestyle allows Labanz to devote more time to her charitable passions such as participating in benefits for “Broadway Cares” and working for the “Little Seeds” program in South Africa. “Little Seeds” provides holistic childcare instruction to teachers in extremely needy areas where underprivileged children have little more than papier-mâché desks and few, if any, books.
In 1998 Labanz visited the New York SCORE office to learn about entrepreneurship. SCORE mentors helped her create a product line of fine stationery. Armed with a product portfolio and new entrepreneurial skills, Labanz participated in her first trade show at New York’s Jacob Javits Center. It was there that well-known stationer, Kate’s Paperie, discovered The Delicate Pen’s products, and now sells them. Labanz’ products also can be found at Bloomingdale’s and Michael C. Fina & Co.
Of her business artistic outlet Labanz states, “I make music with letters; I dance on paper.” When it comes to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, she emphatically states, “Go to SCORE!” She herself continues to take advantage of SCORE’s services as she grows her business. Labanz’s other advice is, “Think big but start slow, and pick your passion.”