The Paper + Craft Pantry is a hidden gem in east Austin and is becoming more sought out because of their amazing Instagram presence. Pei has built the space into so much more than an adorable stationery shop. They host events, workshops and have an awesome community of creatives and small business owners. Read on to learn more about Pei's tips for starting a new business, creating meaningful content, and staying connected with your community.
Tell us about yourself, your background and how The Paper + Craft Pantry came to be. How long was it a dream before you made it a reality?
I started the small business journey almost four years ago after teaching myself how to digitize little post-it doodles into stationery. I was hooked immediately! I left my full-time job in December 2013 and haven't looked back! I worked from my dining room table for the first two years and loved traveling around for pop-ups and markets as well as sold my goods online. At around the two-year mark, I wanted to evaluate what direction I wanted to grow the business in and was able to identify/realize my dreams for The Paper + Craft Pantry. We opened our doors in the Fall of 2015 and have been working with independent stationery designers and small business owners ever since!
Your space is so much more than just a stationery shop. Tell us more about the workshops, classes, and events that you offer!
The Paper + Craft Pantry is part stationery shop and part workshop studio! We work exclusively with instructors who own their own businesses. We love knowing that when a student takes a class with us, they're learning from the very best. And on top of that, their workshop fee goes towards supporting not only The Paper + Craft Pantry but another small business!
What are some of your favorite brands of stationery? How do you decide what artist or brand to carry?
This is a hard one! There are so many great stationery brands out there. We started out working with 15 designers when we first opened, and now we're at around 60! I've always been a letterpress gal, so anything letterpressed just speaks to me. Deciding on what brand to carry is a question we get asked a ton! As we've grown, we've gotten more and more designers reaching out to us. For me, it's imperative to make sure the brand aligns not only with us but with our community. We wrote a "Why We Buy" blog post to share more details about how we choose to work with different brands!
Your Instagram is such a perfect representation of your brand! Tell us about your process for curating, creating and posting your content.
Everything we do with our business, from the products we carry to the classes we host, blog posts we publish and pictures we share on Instagram goes back to our audience, the Paper + Craft Pantry gal. We strive to post meaningful content that inspires and that our "gal" connects with. Besides sharing beautiful and bright photos, we also love being able to use our platform to share what goes on from a small business's perspective- like behind the scenes shots, studio peeks and even connecting our Instagram followers to our blog!
We love your blog. It covers great topics such as DIY, social media tips, and even tips for small businesses! What are your top three tips for small business owners?
Sit down and set some goals for your business! This can start with identifying your core values, partnered with a business plan, financial strategy plan, etc. But taking the time to discover why you want to do what you do really can help you stay true to your business's core values! It may seem daunting and take up some time, but in the long run, it'll give you something concrete to refer back to as you make business decisions! Truly connect with your community and form meaningful networks. In a world of social media overload, it's, so important to find your tribe. Like-minded folks who can inspire you and support you, the same way you can inspire and encourage them! I'm going to say something that not a lot of people will probably say out loud... but you can't possibly please everyone, and you can't possibly work with everyone. And I think it's more impactful for me as a business owner to invest in a few meaningful relationships than spread myself too thin with too many! Take a break! It's so hard to unplug and truly step away from work- especially when you love what you do and love your business. But it's so, so, so vital to take breaks. As hard as it is to leave the business in someone else's hands (and very capable hands), I always feel refreshed and reinspired after taking a break. And it doesn't matter how long the break is, it can be a short 30 min break to a weekend vacation. After all, you are your business' biggest asset. So taking care of yourself should come first, but I know, like myself, most business owners don't do it often enough!
"Taking the time to discover why you want to do what you do really can help you stay true to your business's core values!"
What are some things you wish you knew before starting a business?
It's constant. All the prep and work that goes into launching or opening may seem like a lot, but once you've launched or opened, the work continues! It was something I learned very quickly after opening our doors! Another thing is that I wish someone had told me that good things take time (even though I know that), I could've benefitted from hearing that! Growing a business takes a ton of work, but it also takes time for a business to grow into what you want it to be!
What's coming up next for The Paper + Craft Pantry that we should have on our calendars?
We've unveiled part of our summer workshop calendar and will be sharing, even more, classes and events in the coming weeks! We may also have something in the works for our 2nd birthday party this fall so stay tuned ☺