In Their Words: Johnny and Joanna

Pete CodellaIn Their Words

Interview with Johnny and Joanna Galbraith, co-founders of Letterfolk

This article is part of a series featuring business executives who choose to live and work in Utah. If you know of an executive we should interview, please contact us.

Johnny and Joanna Galbraith have a personal attachment to words. Long words, short words, acronyms, they love them all.

So, it’s fitting that Johnny, who worked in the advertising industry as a creative copywriter, and Joanna who worked as a copyeditor, are the co-founders of Letterfolk. The husband and wife team started the contemporary product design company selling premium, handcrafted letter boards.

In 2015, they decided to leave their fast-paced lifestyles in New York City and move to Salt Lake City to pursue their idea of repurposing vintage letter boards as a home decor fixture. Since then, the company has sold nearly 100,000 letter boards, been featured in dozens of media outlets such as Today, Real Simple, The Magnolia Journal, and amassed over 300,000 followers on Instagram.

Letterfolk crafts premium letter boards, paper products and home goods inspired by simpler times and worthy of the stories they tell.

What was the genesis for starting Letterfolk?
After the birth of our second child, we wanted to capture her monthly milestone photos in a fun, unique way. We stumbled on the idea of using a vintage letter board as a photo prop. We loved the minimalist design and customizable nature, so we designed a sleek, modern version suitable as wall decor.

What are the top two most recent professional accomplishments you are most proud of?
We were recently recognized as one of the fastest growing woman-owned companies in Utah. We are also very proud to run the company alongside nine intelligent, resourceful and wonderful women who complete our team.

We are proud that we survived this last year as a couple while balancing our growing business and having a newborn.

What gives you the most satisfaction?
We enjoy taking products from concept through implementation stages and seeing them solve problems. There’s nothing more gratifying for us than holding the physical product in our hands after months of hard work and knowing that it will find a place in one of our customers’ homes.

What drew you to Utah?
We decided to relocate and start our business in Utah because of its relatively low cost of living, the high caliber of talent and emphasis on family. We met at Brigham Young University and were familiar with Utah and knew relocating here would provide an excellent balance for our business and personal life.

What do you like most about living in Utah?
The proximity to the outdoors and national parks can’t be beaten. As our children get older, we’re excited to have so many ready-made, nearby adventures.

What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
We’ve been impressed with how our peers consistently push the envelope on new product development and strategies. Also, the caliber of recent graduates coming out of Utah schools, especially in creative fields, is exceptional.

What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
If you’re considering starting a business, leverage the stability and security your 9-5 job provides, and use your 8-midnight (if you have kids) to work on your business idea. This strategy helps mitigate unnecessary startup risks and enables you to assess how passionate you are about your entrepreneurial idea.

When you are not busy managing your company or chasing your five kids, what do you like to do in your spare time (if there is any)?
When we’re not writing out love notes, 90’s hip-hop lyrics and passive aggressive reminders on our letter boards, we enjoy spending time as a family, binge-watching Netflix, and pretending to know what work-life balance looks like.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
We’ve spent the better part of our marriage moving around the country for career opportunities. So much so, that none of our children were born in the same state. Sally (six) in North Carolina, Winnie (three) in New York, and Jack (11 months) in Utah.

Johnny and Joanna have 300,000 Instagram followers for their handcrafted letter boards, paper products and home goods.
Follow them @letterfolk.