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Founder Feature: Ksenia Phillips

As long as she can remember, Ksenia Phillip’s was drawn to art. At just 12-years-old she was accepted to one of the most prestigious art schools in St. Petersburg, Russia. After studying there for three years, she moved to the United States with her parents.

Stateside her passion for art continued to blossom. Brands began to seek out Ksenia’s work and she built a successful career as a designer. For more than 10 years she worked with some of the biggest brands in the world like Hilton, Fairmont, and St. Regis. But it wasn't her corporate success that inspired her to start a business, it was her work designing custom wedding stationery.

Creating stationary allowed Ksenia to do what she loved most, paint. Realizing she needed to return full time to her passion, she took a chance and started Darling Lemon, a hand-illustrated paper goods company.

Like many female founders, Ksenia balances two worlds—motherhood and entrepreneurship. Often creating at the family dinner table or wherever she can get her brush to paper, each piece of Darling Lemon stationary is a colorful look inside her beautiful world.

Learn more about Darling Lemon and Ksenia below and shop Darling Lemon greeting cards, notepads, art prints and custom stationery here.

The F Project: What inspired you to start creating greeting cards and stationery?

Ksenia Phillips: I started painting at a young age and it became a big part of my creative outlet but my career led me to brand/wayfinding/graphic design. For years my work involved creating custom wedding stationery, which incorporated a hand painted element. This work led me to the National Stationery Show in New York City In 2014. There I met Katie Hunt of Tradeshow Bootcamp and had an ‘aha moment’ that forever changed my career. With amazing help from Katie, I came up with the idea to create a brand of paper goods that showcased my art.

TFP: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from entrepreneurship?

KP: It takes time and perseverance -- It’s a lot of hard work! I’ve found that understanding your audience is key. My husband often reminds me that Thomas Edison had many failures until he found the right solution and it changed the world forever. 

TFP: How do you keep the creativity flowing and new ideas coming? 

KP: I get inspired by watching design shows, looking through different interior design and fashion magazines. I even get inspiration by reading/looking at my daughter's books. Sometimes even taking a walk outside can spark a new idea. I try to stay away from following the paper industry, I want to make sure that my work is unique and that I’m not being influenced by anyone else’s ideas.

TFP: You spent years creating art for other businesses. What made you decide to go for it on your own?

KP: In essence, I’ve always been creating art for people but now I’m more freely infusing my own style. I decided to start my paper line to create a keepsake collection that uses color and texture to celebrate life’s special moments.  

TFP: Why did you join the F Project?

KP: I was inspired by the F Project’s mission. I jumped at the opportunity to help empower other female-owned businesses. I’ve always enjoyed buying from other businesses like mine created by people who love what they do and create beautifully thought-out products. 

Tess McCurdy

Tess is a content creator and brand builder currently working in the cryptocurrency space. She is an advocate for women and works closely with female-led companies to expand their voice and influence.
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