I am continually amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of today’s millennials. No other generation in history has sprung to adulthood more anxious to succeed. From Silicon Valley to the entertainment industry, millennials are making their mark as no other generation before them. The average age of a Hollywood executive, believe it or not, is twenty-five years old. Two generations ago, that would have been an impossibility.
One young entrepreneur comes to mind, Elizabeth Rees, founder of her own venture Changing Paper. I’m featuring her here not only because she’s an excellent example of millennial inventiveness, but also because we went to the same college, The American University in Paris.
As a successful entrepreneur in New York City, Elizabeth, age 30, was recently interviewed by AMNY, one of the city’s most-read free papers. They wrote that New Yorkers move around a lot. To make periodic redecorating less of a hassle, Elizabeth Rees has created Changing Paper, a stick-on wallpaper company featuring designs printed on 2-by-4-foot panels that can adhere to a variety of surfaces.
Elizabeth came up with her idea when she was asked by a friend to help do something with the temporary space she found herself working in. Elizabeth created a few wraps that went around poles in her friend’s office and they “turned out really cool,” she says. And right away, she felt there was a real business idea here.
To develop the idea, Elizabeth looked around at other products available then began talking to just about everyone she could think of: moms, cabdrivers, her family and friends. And what she discovered was that there weren’t a lot of solutions for creatively and affordably transforming interior spaces. “The temporary aspects,” she says, “were actually a bonus. People love to play with color and design, so a product that is removable and easy to install lends itself extremely well.”
At the university, Elizabeth did not major or even focus on design. She got her master’s in communications and used that to her advantage. “I’m able to write really well,” she says. “I write everything for my website… I write to my customers… I handle all of that myself. It’s a lot about storytelling and creating a brand and finding that person to whom you want to speak; creating that story and brand identity.”
Right now, Changing Paper is an online venture. But Elizabeth’s products will soon be in stores, as well, for customers to buy. It will be sold in a box with one panel or four versus her online offerings where shoppers buy one or fifty or anything in between. “We’re really excited about this next step,” being her design staff. “I think people really want to experience what they’re buying, touch the paper, feel it in the flesh when they’re purchasing it.” Her recipe for success? “Being passionate is at the top of the list. Loving what you are doing and believing in what you are creating or pursuing is a must.”
Every successful endeavor starts with a good idea. You don’t have to have a rich daddy to develop it, either. Most successes actually begin in home garages. And, if it’s a good idea, it is destined to be a success. Taking that idea to the next level and getting it out there for a reaction is just the beginning. From there, anything is possible. But don’t let your ideas linger in your mind too long. Others are thinking about the same ideas. Millennials are quickly taking over the world and there’s no reason why you can’t be one of them who do. So go for it!
For a truly provocative read, check out Saints and Dragons, Edward Snowden in His Own Words.