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Primed for Success

Thursday, May 9, 2019
reagan and sada and book spines

Alumni husband and wife duo build multimillion dollar book company through Amazon

by Nicolette Good '07

At the headquarters for one of Amazon’s top sellers, you can hear a small dog named Milo barking. Milo wanders around table legs while a product photo shoot goes on above him. The multimillion-dollar company boasted four books in Amazon’s top 100 this past Christmas, but behind the company’s doors, you’ll find only husband-and-wife team Reagan ’08 and Sada ’06 Lewis.

From their home in San Antonio, the Lewises run a wildly successful publishing company through Amazon’s e-commerce platform, where they are known for popular notebooks, planners, and kids’ educational books. Beneath each product is an undertone of personal development and positivity.

“We incorporate beautiful designs and offer them at a super-reasonable cost,” says Sada about their product line, which includes labels such as Pretty Simple Planners and Paper Peony Press.

cover of gratitude journal

Sada, the design-mind, is working from their executive board room, which doubles as the Lewis’ personal dining table. Her tool kit includes a Macbook Pro, a suite of Adobe creative apps, and coffee.

Meanwhile, Reagan is in Seattle meeting with Amazon. The Lewises use Amazon’s print-on-demand system to produce their inventory and its e-commerce platform to sell the goods.

“We’ve hit Amazon hard, and it’s been fun,” says Reagan. One of the Lewis’ favorite parts of this experience has been visiting Amazon’s teams, who help sellers like themselves.

“Amazon’s culture has a startup vibe, even though it’s a massive company,” says Reagan. “But Amazon is still the wild west. There is not much precedent for what we do. At your core, you have to be a good problem solver.”

In addition to both being involved in athletics at Trinity—Reagan played football while Sada ran track—the Lewises also share an accounting major from the University. Both worked at Ernst & Young (EY) following graduation. Sada started a photography business after moving on from EY, while Reagan served as CFO for the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio.

Today they leverage their complementary skills: Sada’s artistry and Reagan’s eye for financials.

“My and Sada’s skill sets complement each other,” says Reagan, who works heavily in spreadsheets, though now he is reviewing and analyzing ad campaigns rather than ledgers and bookkeeping reports.

“But I’m replaceable in this,” Reagan says humbly.

“Which I say is not true,” Sada interjects.

“I do the advertising, which is just math,” Reagan continues. “Sada has the ‘it factor,’ the eye for design.”

Indeed she does. Sada surprised her family by pursuing an accounting degree; they envisioned her taking a path in the arts or humanities.

“At Trinity, you learn to wear many hats, and that is kind of what running a business is like,” says Sada, who worked as a resident assistant and served in the Student Government Association at Trinity.

quote about gratitude in journal

The Lewises have lived in San Antonio since graduating from Trinity, and now they are raising two young daughters here. Sada says many people in San Antonio’s entrepreneurial community are fellow alumni.

“I feel like Trinity is a breeding ground for entrepreneurs,” she says.

“Dirk Elmendorf ‘97 has been a great business mentor,” Reagan adds.

The Lewises also recall taking a business policy course with Darryl Waldron, who passed away in 2018, a legendary professor known for being rigorous and having high expectations of his students.

“It was one of those classes where you had to be prepared, and you couldn’t slack,” Sada says. “It was good preparation for life. Reagan and I each wear about 17 different hats, and we have to learn to juggle it all.”

begin each day with a grateful heart quote inside journal

Of all their products, Sada and Reagan are most fond of their gratitude journal, an Amazon “Best Seller.” The gratitude journal enjoyed a long run on Amazon’s top 50 books.

“It’s really cool getting messages from folks saying, ‘This has helped me with my anxiety and to recognize what I have instead of what I don’t have’,” Reagan says.

“There are a lot of crazy things in this world,” Sada says, “and it’s refreshing to see something with a good message make it to the top.”

They say their long-term vision is simply to continue their mission of making books that help people, either by offering a creative outlet, a stress reliever, or a tool to find one’s purpose.

“Your business isn’t everything, dollars aren't everything,” Reagan says. “There are too many people doing black-hat things to make a sale. We’re not going to sacrifice our integrity.”

“We are focused on making beautiful books that have a purpose and align with our values,” Sada continues. “It has been clearly shown—this is what we are meant to do."

Nicolette Good graduated from Trinity University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Music. In addition to being a traditional writer she is a working singer/songwriter, as well as a staff musician for Home Street Music, a nonprofit using music to empower individuals who have experienced homelessness. You can reach her at nicolette.good [at] gmail.com