In The Fold: An Interview with Lora DiFranco of Free Period Press
Whether you know Free Period Press for their earnest prints, supportive scheduling tools, or flipping' adorable stickers... you probably already love them. What's not to enjoy? Personally we most admire the way they bring fun back to life beyond the screen–we're talking IRL activities here. "Double tap to like" is barely a memory when we're spending quality time coloring our dream donut in Free Period Press' "Distractables" coloring book. We'll attribute our happiness to their head idea-maker, Lora DiFranco. She and her community of super designers are ahead of their time by leaving the modern world in the dust. Brainstorming ways for the adults of the world to feel more fulfilled in their free time is literally Lora's job. We're just lucky that she's great at what she does! Learn how Lora is creating creative escapes for us all in our interview with her below.
How did you decide what to name your business?
The name “Free Period Press” comes from the free periods you get when you’re in school-- those times when you can choose whatever you’d like to do. We want to create more space for adulthood free periods-- and make them as fulfilling as possible.
What caused you to start making your products?
We started by making coloring books for adults. This was before the crazy coloring book craze, but I was looking for an easy way to feel creative after my day job.
Who's on your our creative team?
I handle the business side and come up with product ideas. I’m not a designer, so I then collaborate with a bunch of amazing Cleveland artists to bring the products to life. Katie Daugherty is my most frequent collaborator, but I’ve also worked with Trish DiFranco, Vanessa Port, Amber Esner, Bree Lundberg, and Agnes Studio. My wife helps with packing orders and some of the more logistical things.
Where do you create your work? What is that space like?
I have a home-office where I fill orders, but since we’re a collaborative team, much of our work is developed at coffee shops around town or around my kitchen table!
How often do you find yourself in the studio?
Since Free Period is my side-hustle, I try to batch my work into focused chunks. I’ll spend a few mornings per week in my office, plus 1-2 evenings per week.
What is your favorite way to creatively warm-up?
Getting inspiration for new products is my favorite part of the creative process, so I love going to new places for inspiration-- taking the time out to read a magazine, go to the art museum, or read design blogs.
What do you like to listen to while you’re working?
I have trouble listening to music with words when I’m working, so I’ll listen to this alpha waves youtube video, or this French jazz guitar band if I need more energy.
Share a little about your average day of work
I usually pack orders and answer emails before work in the morning. About once per month, I’ll have a check in with designers to work on developing new products. On the weekend, I’ll usually spend a day in coffee shops reaching out to potential stockists and catching up on other businessy things.
Do you have a favorite tool or technique that you love/can't do without?
Honestly, I use our Schedule Magic to-do list notebook every day to keep me focused on what needs to get done!
Which part of your process do you get the most satisfaction from?
It’s a pretty incredible feeling to be at a craft show and see a customer get SO excited to discover one of our products.
Can you tell us a little about the making of your products?
I often let my new product ideas marinate and evolve for year or more before I act on them. Once I’m committed to making a new product, I’ll reach out to a designer and kickoff the project with them. We partner with local printers for manufacturing. It feels great to do everything in Cleveland!
What motivates you to do what you do?
We live in a very distracted world, so I want to create products the help people take a step back and focus on what’s really important to them.
Which season is the most difficult for you, sales-wise? When is your busiest? How do you handle those highs and lows?
The holidays are definitely bonkers, and summer tends to be pretty low key. Now that I know that cadence, I don’t stress out about the slow summers. Instead, I use it as a time to recharge and focus on other areas of my life.
If you could outsource any part of your current process, what task would that be and why?
Social media! I get too in my own head about posting online, so I don’t post as often as I should.
What is something that you wish people knew about you/ your business/ your products?
I love making things that I wish already existed in the world-- that’s my whole reason for starting Free Period.
How do you see your work or processes changing in the near future?
I see us staying close to our core of creating tools for productivity and creativity, but we are going to start hosting more in-person activities to grow our community. I’m really excited about carving out time to focus on what’s important in real life.
Let’s say that you find some spare time in your schedule… what do you like to do when you aren’t working?
I love getting outside for a hike and reading fiction. Both of those activities help me change my perception of my day-to-day life.
Who has had the greatest impression on you as an entrepreneur?
I’m a huge fan of Jason Fried, who started a company called Basecamp. He has a lot of good advice that goes against the status quo of startup culture and instead focuses on how to build a business that is sustainable and not crazy-making.
Are there any specific makers or creators in general who you think our readers should be paying attention to? What do those people mean to you?
I’m always inspired by Miranda July and Janelle Monae. Locally, we have so many talented makers, but I recently met Molly Fitzpatrick of Ditto House and she is the friendliest person ever and I LOVE her designs!
What is your favorite thing about running your own business?
I really enjoy having a creative vision and working with amazing people to make it a real thing that exists in the world.
What advice would you give to future makers of all ages?
To just get out there and start. You’ll make so many mistakes as you go, but reading all of the blogs and books in the world won’t teach you as much as your first craft show/workshop/tradeshow. Also, read "Profit First" to get the money part of your business in order.
Shop a selection of Free Period Press merch at THREEFOLD Gifts, where you can find goods from 45 national professional makers!
Visit us every Tuesday-Saturday, 10am-6pm at 13339 Madison Ave. in Lakewood, Ohio.