Sierra Elmore is the owner and founder of XOXO, Sierra, a shop selling sassy and relatable stationery and gifts for the reader and writer in you (or your life). She’s also a YoungArts award-winning YA writer represented by Patrice Caldwell at New Leaf Literary & Media. When she’s not running her business or writing, Sierra loves to read about “unlikable” female protagonists, explore independent bookstores, and play with her cats Edie, Coco, and Bronx. Sierra lives in New York City.
What do you create?
I create sassy and relatable stationery and gifts for the reader and writer in you (or your life) through my business, XOXO, Sierra. We launched in June 2021 and sell everything from pencils to “Book Daddy” hats. I also write YA contemporary and thriller novels, represented by Patrice Caldwell at New Leaf Literary. Through my novels, I write about girls wreaking havoc on their and others’ lives while unraveling trauma.
What made you launch XOXO, Sierra?
Though there are definitely some really cool brands out there, I saw a lot of the same black and white, boring gifts when searching for writer gifts for me and my friends. I saw room in the market for a fun, bold, and cool new brand that really appealed to Gen Z and diverse readers. I wanted to create new stories through my work, whether that’s empowering non-traditional readers through our “Book Baddie” hat or inspiring people to keep going with our Writer Motivational Pencils.
What are the kinds of stories you want to tell, and who do you hope they reach?
I want bold, brilliant creatives to come away either energized, inspired, or having a good laugh after they see my work.
What are some of your biggest inspirations in your work?
My biggest inspiration is my everyday writing life! I think of my own and others’ frustrations and triumphs during the reading and writing process, and go from there. I also get a ton of inspiration from Twitter! I constantly ask my customers what they want, and have gotten some really good ideas from it. For example, I just did a poll asking which design people want on an enamel pin and there’s a CLEAR winner! So, we have those to look forward to 🙂
Why do you create?
I create because I have to. There’s an inner urge that draws me toward entrepreneurship and innovation, and I listen to it every day when I develop new products, reach out to new stockists, and post on social media. This is my dream, and I love to build it.
How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?
I actually quit my full-time job in August so I could focus on XOXO, Sierra full-time. It was one of the scariest decisions I’ve made in my life, but it was the right one. Before that, I used Google Calendar and my daily planner to the MAX to balance everything on my plate, implemented systems in my business to save time, and used Notion as a one-stop shop for information I needed for my business. And I still use all of those systems to this day, while hiring help and ensuring that I take care of myself first. Mental, emotional, and physical wellness is so important, and without it, everything else in life grows chaotic very quickly.
What is your favorite creation by a Black person, and why?
I’m a huge fan of Tiffany D. Jackson’s work. She writes spooky, enrapturing, and socially conscious YA novels about Black girls caught on the edge of life.
Any advice for new creators?
Keep going past the beginners stage. Your work will never get better if you don’t keep trying to get better and better. Practice, watch tutorials, take classes, get feedback, whatever it takes to become an expert. You got this!
What are your current or future projects you’d like to plug?
My shop, XOXO, Sierra, has a 2022 planner for writers! This was a huge undertaking, and I’d love if you check it out.