The Story Behind FRANK: Interview with Co-Founder Jess Holdaway

February 16, 2017

The Story Behind FRANK: Interview with Co-Founder Jess Holdaway

When you come across a brand that is both of high quality + give back to the society - it's a pleasure to purchase! FRANK Stationery is such a brand. They produce amazing stationery products and give 1 for every 1 purchased. So, who are the lovely souls behind such a fantastic brand? We had a chat to Co-Founder Jess Holdaway to get to know FRANK a little bit better. FRANK Stationery was founded by Jessica and Jason Holdaway (what a power couple!).

What inspired you to launch FRANK, and what does it means to you?

Around five years ago, Jason and I (Jessica) watched a documentary on child poverty in New Zealand. After travelling and doing some work overseas, we were shocked to come home and see poverty in our own neighbourhoods. It broke our hearts and really motivated us to create a business that gave back sustainably. We didn't want to create something that wasn't able to make a difference ongoing, so we knew business was the way to achieve this. 

FRANK really began to take shape when we reached out to a few teachers and spoke to them about their experiences teaching in classrooms where children were lacking in resources. This is where stationery became something we were really excited about. Children not being able to record their learning, teachers not being able to track a students progress accurately and parents struggling just to feed their kids was hard to see.

We were so excited that a simple thing like a school book could change all of these in an instant. And we could do that! We could donate school books to children in need! Easy!

The other side of the coin was that all throughout my life I have used journals. I have a stack of them from most years of my life sitting in my house. Stationery came second nature to us. We love it, we use it, we believe in its power to change things. 

Everyday we pinch ourselves that we are able to do what we love. 

What an amazing start to an exciting journey. So, when was FRANK first officially launched, and what has the journey been like since?

We started out of a very small apartment underneath my parents house back in 2012 with the idea to create notebooks, journals and diaries that inspire and enable us to be great humans! In addition to this idea, we operate using a buy one, give one model. This means for every item we sell, we donate a school book to a child in need in New Zealand. You can see more about our giving and story here. 

The journey has been filled with heaps of ups and downs. A lot of the time has been trial and error and an immense amount of learning, but we love it!

It's hard to describe in a short paragraph how robust and deep the journey of doing FRANK has been. We have met some incredible people, there has been heaps of tears and heaps of celebrations. We cannot wait for what lies ahead. We have some pretty big goals and are so excited to be able to work towards those. 

Up & Atem Frank Stationery

Tell us about your top 3 moments since the launch.

1. Launching our very bad first website and having this idea out of our head into the real world. It was pretty scary but so so exciting. 

2. Getting into our first stockist was a great boost of confidence for us! People actually love our stuff!

3. Giving back our first 10,000 school books to schools in need, and seeing students writing improve from the books that we donated. On top of that, alleviating the financial pressure that teachers take upon themselves to provide for their students, as well as parents has been humbling.

You mentioned 'buy one give one'. How did this concept come to be, and what impact has it had to date?

We saw the Buy One, Give One model work successfully overseas. We loved the model and were excited to see it thriving!

So far we have given away over 25,000 schools books to children need and are about to donate another 20,000. Every book that we donate makes a difference to the student, teacher, schools and families. Everything is so connected. We don't pretend that a school book alone can solve poverty, but it's the effect that it has on the whole system that makes a difference. We strongly believe that having a good education is the greatest shot that children have at breaking the cycle of poverty and having school books to write in impacts a child's learning hugely.

Sometimes is the small ordinary things that can make the biggest difference.

Up & Atem Frank Stationery - Buy One Give One

That's a tremendous impact over a short period of time. I bet you're busy. What does a 'regular' day look like?

Most days are actually quite different. Usually, it begins with breakfast; some kind of eggs on toast. Then it's coffees/teas at the desk while we catch up on emails and admin things. 

Jason usually spends most of his time running the day to day finances, sales and packing etc. I spend my time managing social media, website and product design.

But really there is a lot of cross over to what we do. We try to play to each others strengths, so I will pick up things that I find energising (like replying to website enquiries, photography, e-commerce, email marketing etc.) and Jason will do the same with financial forecasting, sales, orders etc. 

You seem like a great team. Is anyone else working with you, and where are you based? 

We are a small team - just Jason and I work in the business. We are based out of our home in Mt Albert in Auckland. 

So, how do you use the FRANK products yourself?

We are a little obsessed! I have about 4 different notebooks for different purposes and then my 2017 Diary to plan/record what I have been up to! 

My notebooks are used as follows:

1. Personal Journal: This is for writing my most honest thoughts, and remembering special things/feelings that are happening in our lives. This will be the journal I look back on in years to come to remember all those small moments you tend to forget. 

2. Learning Notebook: This notebook is filled with people, quotes and pages of amazing things I discover along the way. Usually from podcasts or books I'm reading; these notebooks are always with me and are a constant source of wisdom and joy. It's lovely to have everything I love learning about in one place. 

3. To Do Notebook: This notebook contains my day to day to do lists, scribbles, notes etc. It's messy, pages are torn out and I love it! 

4. Beautiful Thoughts: This journal is for when I am having an off day and need help processing my thoughts a little more! 

And what does the future look like for FRANK? Any exciting changes ahead?

Giving away more books to children in need! (20,000 in term 2!). Designing more inspiring product that empowers us to be more authentic! And, meeting more and more people along the way. 






Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in The New Executive

Perception Matters: Working Late or Hardly Working?
Perception Matters: Working Late or Hardly Working?

July 12, 2017

What do you do, when working hard is defined by the number of hours you work? Do you care about perception?


Read More

The Ultimate Minimalist Guide: an Organised and Simple Life
The Ultimate Minimalist Guide: an Organised and Simple Life

July 05, 2017

Want to feel free and light? Do you struggle to find things? It's time to dump the crap.

Read More

How to Be Super Productive Without Multi-Tasking
How to Be Super Productive Without Multi-Tasking

June 28, 2017

Learn my own method to be super productive, without multi-tasking and having to juggle too many things at once. Let me introduce... the zipper method.

Read More