If you sneak a peek behind the curtain that guards Kelli Britten’s passion for joyful moments, you just might discover a gassy unicorn prancing about.
An assistant professor of practice in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, Britten is the founder of Bright Spots Paper, a paper goods company specializing in delivering joy.
For many years, Britten’s bright spots came from a file folder she kept in her office. Inside that standard manila envelope, Britten kept cheerful notes and well wishes — a rainy day stash she tapped into for needed moments of joy.
She yearned to expand the concept, bringing joy to others through her dream to launch a paper goods company. However, for six years she remained frozen by fear. A trio of inspirations helped her move forward, take the leap of faith and plunge into the world of handmade laughter.
The first inspiration came from a student she taught as a graduate assistant. He said to her, “people just want to have their day made.” This line resonated with her as she already knew a simple note could do the trick.
Then, in 2006, Britten’s grandmother passed away. She was raised by her grandparents, who were very sentimental people and taught her the value of printed and mailed communication. Britten said her grandfather “loved sending hugs in the mail through the written word.”
A second push came from her grandfather as they departed the funeral home.
“The first thing he said to me was ‘I didn’t appreciate her enough,’” Britten said. “It’s important to tell people how much they mean to us and how much they are valued.”
The final piece of the puzzle fell into place when that unicorn interrupted a rough patch in Britten’s life. After a couple weeks of mindlessly pinning sad things on Pinterest, a friend noticed and intervened.
Britten received a card in the mail that pictured a unicorn farting a glitter rainbow. Inside it read, “Think you might need a pick-me-up.”
“That just made my day,” she said. “It made me think why aren’t we taking the time to just appreciate other people?”
Britten finally quit asking herself “what if?”
In 2018, Britten’s dream coalesced and Bright Spots Paper was born. Today, the company offers all things paper goods including cards for every occasion, notebooks and stickers filling customers from across the nation with joy.
“Now I ask myself why didn’t I do this like eight years ago,” Britten said.
Britten also takes her passion for joy into the classroom to reach students. She found her love for teaching during her first job after graduating college where she instructed kids about business at a non-profit.
“I loved the moment when the lightbulb went on,” Britten said.
Her desire to teach deepened after serving as an adjunct instructor to help pay off student loans.
“Our students are so passionate,” Britten said. “There are so many opportunities to do so many other things. It’s nice that I’m still able to do the things that I enjoy doing.”
Outside of her teaching on campus, Britten serves as adviser for Ad Club and the university’s National Student Advertising Competition team; president of AAF Lincoln; and she’s working on her doctorate.
Through all her work, Britten places an emphasis on encouraging students to pursue passion projects.
“It gives you another space to refine skills, learn new skills and do things you care about without the construct of a paycheck,” she said. “You’re not tethered to any expectations.
“Spend time trying to find what you’re passionate about. Take negative feedback to grow and don’t listen to that negative voice in your head. I think that stops a lot of people from doing a lot of great things.”