Pen Therapy: Juliette Sweeney
Pen Therapy offers live journaling sessions, giving people an online space to explore their individual thoughts in a group setting
Name of founder: Juliette Sweeney
Location: Leicestershire, UK
Date launched: 08/11/2020
Age of founder: 28
What university, if any, did you attend? University of Derby
Working from the premise that all you need is a pen and paper to journal, Juliette Sweeney launched Pen Therapy during the 2020 pandemic as a way to help people release and navigate their thoughts on paper. Drawing on a background in blogging, literacy and writing, as well as art and design, Sweeney discusses the process of starting up…
Tell us what your business does:
We offer live journaling group sessions online. Each group session offers a judgement-free space designed solely for personal exploration and growth. No prior journaling experience is necessary! All you need is a pen and some paper…
Where did the idea of your business come from?
Pen Therapy was founded during the 2020 pandemic as a source of encouragement and creative solace for anyone with an interest in releasing their thoughts and making sense of them on paper.
How did you know there was a market for it?
The pandemic has caused a spike in mental health issues, and I wanted to do something to help that would also be freely accessible to people in their homes during the limitations of lockdown.
What were you doing before starting up?
I was, and continue to, work part-time for a leading literacy association. I wrote my first book, and I also write a blog that is close to my heart called Really Married, which is a space where I share a real picture of what marriage is based on my own experience and lessons learned, and I openly cover taboo topics to help strengthen marriages. (www.reallymarried.co.uk and also available on Instagram as @reallymarried.)
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes, I have always been the type to venture off on my own path. From working as a freelance writer to dabbling in starting up other business ideas before Pen Therapy – I've just always loved the idea of creating something of my own to nurture and develop into something that can sustain me financially, and allow me the flexibility to still prioritise my family. If I'm able to achieve this while doing something that I am truly passionate about, then even better!
How did you raise the money?
I used my own finances, but it didn't cost much at all to get started. I also have a background in art and design, so I was able to get the website together myself and design my content for social media, along with any other design-related features.
Describe your business model and how you make money.
My business model is based on attendees booking their place to attend a session of their choice by purchasing a ticket. Gift cards are also available for those who want to give a gift with a difference.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
As of yet I wouldn't say that I have faced any significant challenges, as I have been consistent with promotion and tickets are being sold. I'm confident that even if my introductory sessions aren't full to capacity, those who attend will be my biggest advocates once they experience the session and share their experience with others. Even if one person tells one more person, that is still very valuable to me as a small business.
What was your first big breakthrough?
When I sold my first ticket! It confirmed to me that others believed in my vision, and spurred me on to keep sharing and promoting. My business is only two weeks old after all!
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I would say believe in your brand. If you are in business for other people, then you will find it difficult to maintain a sense of authenticity that underpins your ethos as a business owner. If you are passionate about your idea, and your motivation to get behind it exists regardless of who chooses to support you, then that is the kind of idea that you can easily spend your life getting behind. That is the essence of a business that is worth dedicating your time towards building, even if it takes a lifetime.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
By then I would love to be in a position where I can enhance my business with qualifications as a professional counsellor, as I am planning to undertake further study in the coming years. I have a lot planned for Pen Therapy as it grows, so in five years I hope to be in a position where I can manage a small team of employees and continue to build a business with an ever-expanding reach throughout the UK, and beyond!
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