This Entrepreneur Has Turned Stationery Into a Seven-figure Business

Emma Codrington, founder of Emma Kate Co.

Emma Kate Co. has gone from selling greeting cards to offering a custom range of stationery and planners that regularly sell out. The key to its business trajectory? An acute understanding of her product and clever cash flow planning assisted by the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card

Life doesn’t always go to plan. “The goal was to stay in London long-term, however, when my sponsorship fell through, I found myself on a one-way flight back home to Adelaide,” says Emma Codrington, the founder of stationery and lifestyle brand Emma Kate Co. “It was a unique opportunity to start something new.”

Drawing inspiration from her time travelling through Europe as a freelance graphic designer, Codrington launched Emma Kate Co. in 2015 with a range of greeting cards inspired by her travels. “The brand now designs and manufactures its own paper products, notebooks, journals, pens and greeting cards – our most popular product is the yearly planner,” she says.

Since its founding, the brand has expanded from a single entrepreneur to a team of four full-time staff and multiple part-time staff that dispatches over 10,000 orders a month during peak season, to customers in over 70 countries and 400 wholesale partners worldwide. There’s also a brick-and-mortar store in Melbourne, where Codrington is now based. 

Emma Codrington, founder of Emma Kate Co.

A large portion of the business’s revenue is tied to the sale of the yearly planners, which are released in August. “The launch day is our highest revenue-grossing day of the year by far,” explains Codrington. To manage Emma Kate Co.’s cash flow, Codrington uses the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card’s no pre-set spending limit¹ and up to 51 days to pay for purchases².

“We sell our product to our wholesale stockists with 30-day payment terms, so we’re paying for the manufacturing of a product and then not receiving income until much later. The Card comes in handy to help manage that cash flow and keep the business moving,” Codrington says. 

The company also earns up to 1.25 Qantas Points per $1 spent on everyday business spend, including paying for local manufacturing, and 2 Qantas Points per $1 spent on Qantas products and services³. Those points help Codrington and the team travel to international trade shows to meet with retailers and secure new wholesalers. 

“Recently we travelled to New York to attend a trade show with flights booked with Qantas Points. It was a valuable trip for us. We used the American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card’s dynamic line of unsecured funding¹ to help with the costs of building our stall,” says Codrington. And all that support paid off. “Thanks to our set-up and time at the trade show, we secured a partnership with a major book retailer and as a result, Emma Kate Co. products were stocked in over 200 retail stores across the US.”

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Manage your cash flow

As the business has grown over the last nine years, so too has Codrington and her family. The new mum is candid about the future and balancing her personal needs with those of the business. 

“This period of entrepreneurship has been challenging and interesting,” she says. “I’ve had to learn to step away and not be so hands-on. And it’s given me time to reflect on what I want from the products, like the planner, now that I’m a mum. I think that’s something we’ll be looking closely at in the future.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 150,000 bonus Qantas Points + $200 credit* with the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card. Spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within three months of your approval date. Apply by 1 October 2024. New American Express Card Members only. T&Cs apply. Learn more.

Unlock the possibilities

Emma Codrington shares her top tips for work/life balance, navigating tax time and creating cash flow. 

“Work hand in hand with your accountants”

As small businesses ready themselves for tax time, Codrington says the best advice is to trust your accountants and save them time. “The automated reporting feature of the Card⁴ is handy. I like having transparency over my finances but it's even better for the accountants to have consolidated spending records come tax time,” she says. The American Express Qantas Business Rewards Card also comes with up to 99 complimentary Employee Cards⁵. “All members of my senior team have a Card and their spending is consolidated automatically.”

“Create cash flow”

Emma Kate Co.’s unique sales pipeline means that the business has to be clever about maintaining its cash flow. “During busy periods, our staff grows by up to ten people to help with dispatch and we use the Card to help pay for our major expenses, including Australia Post and DHL, with up to 51 days to pay for purchases²,” says Codrington. “We also take pre-orders on the planners to help fund the manufacturing and have diversified our products to ensure that there’s always something in the pipeline.”

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Amex Qantas Business Rewards

“Earn Qantas Points on the fly”

“Our brand manager is located in South Australia so we fly her to Melbourne every month, or as needed for campaign shoots,” says Codrington. “When we can’t do it through Qantas Points we’re looking at ways that we can earn triple Qantas Points on eligible Qantas flights⁶ or save up to 10 per cent on domestic flights as a Qantas Business Rewards member.⁷” 

“Cultivate your key offering”

“Find what sets your product or service apart from the rest of the market and work on making that niche your own,” says Codrington. It’s a strategy that’s paid dividends for the brand as its focus on planners has seen the business grow into one that generates over seven figures in revenue per year. 

“Take time to find a balance”

Codrington admits that, as an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a small business. “But now that I'm a new mum, it’s given me space to reflect on what I want for the future and how I can better balance work and home,” she says. Little things go a long way, such as prioritising the business’s strategy instead of focusing on everyday machinations and finding five minutes for yourself when travelling. “The Card’s two complimentary passes to the domestic Qantas Club Lounge⁸ is a luxury when travelling, knowing that there’s somewhere to sit and rest before boarding.”

Unlock the possibilities for your business. Earn 150,000 bonus Qantas Points + $200 credit* with the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card. Spend $6,000 on eligible purchases within three months of your approval date. Apply by 1 October 2024. New American Express Card Members only. T&Cs apply. Learn more.

Click here for Terms and Conditions

SEE ALSO: How This Vinyl Record Side-hustle Spun Into a Million-dollar Business

American Express approval criteria applies. Subject to Terms and Conditions. Fees and charges apply. All information is correct as at 1June 2024 and is subject to change. This offer is only available to those who reside in Australia. Cards are offered, issued and administered by American Express Australia Limited (ABN 92 108 952 085). ®Registered Trademark of American Express Company.

*150,000 bonus Qantas Points plus a $200 credit: Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by 1 October 2024, are approved and spend $6,000 on eligible purchases on their new Card in the first three (3) months from the Card approval date. Eligible purchases do not include Card fees and charges, for example annual fees, interest, late payment, cash advances, balance transfers, traveller’s cheques and foreign currency conversion. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the past 18 months are ineligible for this offer. 150,000 bonus Qantas Points plus a $200 credit will be awarded to the eligible Card Member's Account 8-10 weeks after the spend criteria has been met. Subject to the American Express® Qantas Business Rewards Card Points Terms and Conditions. This advertised offer is not applicable or valid in conjunction with any other advertised or promotional offer.

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