APPLE PODCASTS | SPOTIFY Every so often, you come across a product and instantly know it will be a new staple in your life. The annual prayer journal from Val Marie Paper is one of those products for me. Every year, it’s at the top of my holiday wish list! That’s why I was so excited to […]
Every so often, you come across a product and instantly know it will be a new staple in your life. The annual prayer journal from Val Marie Paper is one of those products for me. Every year, it’s at the top of my holiday wish list!
That’s why I was so excited to sit down with founder Valerie Woerner. Since 2013, Val Marie Paper has sold nearly 100,000 journals and collected an overflowing folder of thank you’s from happy customers – myself included!
In this interview, you’ll get to hear how Val came up with the idea for her bestselling product and why she intentionally slowed down at the height of her business success.
Press play for the full interview or keep reading below!
After studying journalism in college, Valerie found she didn’t love the reality of working for a newspaper. She felt drawn to the wedding planning industry, where she had no experience but plenty of passion.
“You have to fear what you’re in more than you fear the uncertainty,” Val says. When the fear of staying in her day job became greater than the unknown, she left to start her wedding planning company.
The business took off quickly but the work was exhausting. A few years later, Val sold the company to focus exclusively on wedding invitations, sure that this time she had found the right niche.
But in 2013, everything changed again when Val found out she was pregnant.
Like many soon-to-be parents, Val worried nonstop during her pregnancy. She searched for something to organize her thoughts and turn her anxieties into prayers, and when she couldn’t find what she was looking for, she designed it.
Her local print shop agreed to print the prayer journal, but they needed to print at least 50. So Val shared the idea on Instagram – and realized she was far from the only one searching for a more intentional, focused prayer life.
In the stressful season of new motherhood, Val says, “God gave me so much joy and peace.” Her belief was palpable and customers could feel it. “Trying to sell a product when you’ve been so changed by it, it was electric.”
Val Marie Paper had a new signature product – and it was flying off the shelves.
A few years after creating the prayer journal, Val decided to write a book. By that point, the wedding stationary side of the business had stagnated. But stationary had been a part of Val’s identity for so long that it took a while for her to see.
It wasn’t until she looked at the numbers that she realized: “It feels like this is half my business, but really it’s 5%.”
This is why I encourage all my Blueprint Model students to look at their offer profitability. You may be surprised where the majority of your revenue is actually coming from!
Despite adding new products to their line every year, Val’s prayer journal was still by far the most popular. They refocused on what they did best and Val Marie Paper has continued to grow since.
In 2018, Val Marie Paper had their biggest year yet. Val was writing her first traditionally published book, they’d grown their audience at the Magnolia Market, and sales were at an all-time high…but she wasn’t able to enjoy the success.
On the inside, she was exhausted. Success at Val Marie Paper came at the cost of time with her family and she wanted to slow down and rest. Her motto became “led not driven”, which inspired the title of her next book.
Meanwhile, the business continued to grow.
In 2020, despite the state of the world, Val Marie Paper was thriving. Loyal customers ordered thousands of journals during their annual August pre-order campaign, which was meant to be shipped out in October.
Unfortunately, due to shipping delays, they didn’t receive those journals until early December – and Val and her team were left with 5,000 journals to get out before Christmas.
The Val Marie Paper team worked around the clock to get everything sent in time but in the chaos, they accidentally sent out 500 journals of the wrong color. “It was a nightmare on top of an already very hard season.”
Val made herself sick working and worrying about the impact on their customers. In early January of the next year, her health took a turn for the worse and she knew something had to change.
In late January 2021, Val decided to quit Instagram. She wanted her quiet hours to be spent offline. And although leaving social media has impacted the business, Val knew it was the right call.
“I wished I planned more for leaving Instagram. I felt very comfortable that it was the right thing to do, but I didn’t have a game plan. Just knowing that we’re touching individual lives…that’s hard to do offline, but we’re figuring it out.”
If you’ve been following my business, you know that I quit Instagram as well (way back in 2017!). Check out this interview to learn why I made that decision and how I was able to double our revenue the very next year!
Since suffering from health issues in 2021, Val has cut her work hours back to 10-15 hours a week. With only an hour or two of productive focus a day, she spends that time on the most essential tasks.
“I’m grateful that I have a scalable business, so I’m able to be sick or tired. I don’t want to be, but I can be.” Val doesn’t manually ship the journals herself, which means Val Marie Paper can continue to sell without her direct involvement.
Earlier this year, Val took herself to a hotel for two days to figure out what’s next for the company. She came back to work full of ideas and more excited than ever – but this time, she’s not going to rush anything.
After 10 years in business, Val has learned that it’s best to think long-term. She used to try to get new products out as fast as possible, but now she intentionally slows down. “I’m learning how to be patient and not feel like everything has to roll out so fast.”
Her new focus for Val Marie Paper is to stay steady instead of racing ahead. “I want to come from a place of not just patience, but truly feeling like I don’t have to be so scrappy and make everything happen immediately.”
Val’s newest product, a new book of prayer requests, doesn’t have a firm launch date yet – and that’s okay. She’s not in a hurry.
To hear the full story and more about Michelle Boyd, press play on the player above for the full interview or click here to download the transcript.
Valerie Woerner is the author of multiple books including Pray Confidently and Consistently and Springboard Prayers and the host of the podcast, Prayer in a Noisy World. She is the creator of Val Marie Paper prompted prayer journals, which have sold over 125,000 copies and lives in South Louisiana with her husband, Tyler, and their two daughters.
January 11, 2024