Elizabeth Rees is the owner and creator of Chasing Paper, a company that creates stylish removable wallpaper for the urban home. She grew up in the printing industry in the Midwest, so paper has always been a part of her life. Read on to discover what inspired Elizabeth to start her business, find out her social media strategy + marketing tips, and more!
It was a very organic path that led me to Chasing Paper and came out of necessity and wanting to feel personally connected to the work I was doing on a daily basis. I wanted to create a business and product that could be seamlessly manufactured through our family business so that I could be connected to the generations that came before me and also have something to pass down. I wanted the brand to be something that spoke to me as a consumer and allowed me to connect with women like me in different phases of their lives.
The idea was born through wanting to find a solution to a problem. A friend of mine was building her company and in transitional offices; they wanted a removable/temporary way to brand and bring color and illustration into the space, and we came up with the idea of wrapping the support beams. It immediately transformed the space – immediately, I knew there was an idea here. When I started digging into the research, I noticed that most of what was in the market was either very low-design/cheap or very high design/expensive – there was nothing at the time that hit the sweet spot of thoughtfully-designed and accessible in price point. We think about this every day in terms of design. We want everything we create to feel special, and unlike anything you would find anywhere else. We like our wallpapers to have a feeling of time and place.
In the early days, it was sheer hustle. I hand wrote letters to hundreds of editors with a framed wallpaper sample. Talked with everyone I could about what I was doing, I even carried wallpaper around with me in NYC so that I could show people when they asked questions. Mostly, I said yes to everything. Each opportunity was a chance to succeed or fail – which were both driving me further into understanding my business and customer.
It has played a huge part! Learning how our customers have used the paper has been so exciting and is the best way to inspire and empower others to take on a project. We work with a lot of incredible people to create content that looks polished and aspirational – we like our social media pages to be a place for customers to get inspired!
I am always talking to people about this – as I have a hard time defining success. I think for me, the success has not come so much from revenue but more from the level of partnerships we have been able to leverage. Getting to work with people and brands I admire so much makes all the hard work worth it. Working alongside teams of people that are the best in the business forces our team to step up to the plate, learn quickly and also to hold true to our values and brand voice. I think my proudest moment was buying my house in Milwaukee last Fall with my husband. As Chasing Paper started to gain momentum in 2016-2017 – I felt a strong pull to have its success live in the city that shaped and formed me, Milwaukee, WI. I want to help create more creative jobs in my hometown.
Social media has been an integral part of Chasing Paper's success – and strategic partnerships is responsible for our continued organic growth on our channels. We work strategically with influencers, brands and other small businesses to serve as a continuous push forward to our growth goals.
Be relentless. One thing I often see is all the excitement about an idea but the misconception that telling people once about your idea, product, service will be enough for them to get it. You have to continue to get in front of people in an organic and thoughtful way, and that is an incredible amount of work. The strategic and consistent communication through social media and with a tool like planoly is so important!