Today we get to shine the light on Vanessa Quigley, Chatbooker in Chief at Chatbooks. Vanessa dreamed up the genius idea of hassle-free picture books 2 years ago while being an incredible mother to seven. Business is booming, Instagram thriving, and she remains grounded and humble. Her story, encouragement, and wisdom left a tear rolling down our cheeks. Thanks Vanessa for spreading good in your family, by chasing your dreams, and to chatbookers and fans everywhere. xo
Shop a Maxi mat like Vanessa's here.
-Tell us the backstory of how Chatbooks started? When my youngest, Declan, was just 5, I found him in bed one night clinging to a photo book his preschool teacher made for him for graduation. Through his tears he told me that he never wanted to grow up and my heart broke! First of all it was so sweet that he was feeling nostalgic for his childhood at the tender age of 5. But most of all I was overwhelmed with guilt because I had never printed a photo of him-- much less made a photo book. That was my aha moment. I knew I needed to get my photos out of my phone so we could hold on to what matters. My husband Nate already had a small dev team working on another project, but with my convincing, they agreed to pivot and within a week we had a prototype of an app that could simply and automatically print my Instagram pics in a book. I’ll never forget watching Declan look through those first few books we had printed chuck full of photos of him. Priceless!
-You guys have blown up! Bravo on building a brand that creates such meaning for all of us. If you had to give a few reasons why, what do you think has been essential to your hard earned success? Like most people. I have dozens of projects on my to do list that I know I’ll never get around to doing. We are all just so busy! I think a huge part of our success with Chatbooks was figuring out a way to give people what they want--photo books--without requiring any work. By sharing photos with friends and family through social media they’ve already done the work. We’ve just built software to automatically make the books for them.
-Success doesn’t come without a few failures. What were some pivotal moments when things looked bleak? How did you overcome failures that came your way? Things were very bleak after my husband and his team had been working for 2 years on a cloud based solution for our memories all while we’d been living off of our savings. Admitting that no one wanted to use what he’d built was the hardest part. But things quickly turned around as the company pivoted to what I and our customers really wanted--BOOKS! It was then that I realized that I need to officially join the team as cofounder and Chatbooker in Chief to be a voice of Chatbookers everywhere.
-Name a few things that have caused the greatest growing pains throughout your journey with Chatbooks? We have a whiteboard in the office that no one is ever allowed to erase that contains what we call “sacred writ”. At the top it reads, “It’s all about the books stupid!” Now those weren’t my exact words, but I did finally have to convince my husband/cofounder that we didn’t just want our memories safe and sound in the cloud, but that we want to hold on to them in our hands. We want photobooks! Once we all accepted that print is not dead Chatbooks was born and we’ve been printing books ever since.
-From what we can tell, Chatbooks is such a great place to work. How have you guys created the culture there? We are a family focused company and our team feels like family. We also welcome our working parents to bring their kids to work when they need to. Our Chatpup Roxie especially loves it when kids come to the office.
-Do you mind sharing a focus, rule, or motto that is paramount at Chatbooks? Our focus at Chatbooks and our number one goal as employees, whether working on our dev team, in marketing, or customer service, is to help people. We have our customer in mind in all that we do. We want to help strengthen families and believe that we are doing that by helping people hold onto their memories.
-#gathrelove. You work with your husband Nate. How does that work for you? What do you do to keep the business from taking over your life? I absolutely love working with my husband and can’t think of a better business partner. It is so rewarding to be working on a shared passion with my best friend. We gave up the notion of work/life balance years ago and instead refer to this craziness as our “life’s work”. Some days are crazier than others but I love how fiercely protective he is of me and my time. I especially love how he cheerfully picks up the slack when I have to work long hours or travel for a change.
-You’re a mom to 7. Props to you for that! Tell us about what it means to you to be a working mom and how it has challenged and developed you? In general I like to say YES but when it comes to how I choose to spend my time, I’ve had to learn how to say NO. There are just so many hours in a day and while I’m in this new “season” of life as a working mom, I’ve had to really manage my schedule and make sure I’m doing the most important things. You have to say NO to some good things to make room for even better YESes.
-If you could take a young entrepreneur to lunch, what encouragement and warnings would you tell them? Believe in yourself and be brave. Fear of doing something new is totally normal. Know that you ARE up to the task and start doing! And accept the fact that you will make mistakes and just keep testing and experimenting.
-Who or what is the biggest source of your inspiration? Mothers everywhere are my inspiration. I am the oldest of 12 and I never really appreciated all my mother did until I became a mother myself. As the mother of 7 children of my own now, I can say that no one works harder and selflessly sacrifices more to help people than mothers.
-#gathreaway. What’s the coolest place you’ve been with Chatbooks? And where is one place you'd love to go next, with or without Chatbooks? Nate and I were just in Times Square in NYC to see a 22 story Chatbooks billboard. Seeing our brand up in lights was unreal and felt one step closer to my dream of having Chatbooks be a household name.
-Lastly, we love hearing people talk their dreams. What is your greatest dream, big or simple, in life? I am living my dream! I hope to continue building this business with my husband and our incredible team and one day be piled high with my grandchildren as we look through our Chatbooks together.