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2511 East 6th St, Bldg 4 Unit A
Austin, TX 78702

Austin's favorite stationery shop and workshop studio.

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The Paper + Craft Pantry blog is home to our latest DIY projects, current inspiration sources, and small business advice. 

Small Business School: Vision Boards For Business

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Austin Small Business Blog: Vision Boards For Your Small Business

Some may call it their real life Pinterest board, or maybe even consider it a mood board of sorts. But the reality is that a vision board is so much more than that! 

A vision board allows you to dig a little deeper and discover what you truly want for your life, and business. It enables you to use visuals to tell the goals and dreams you have for your future. And we think it can be even more powerful than written goals. Because let's face it, we're all visual beings and having something that serves as a collective reminder is so, so powerful! 

When we were scheduling a community event for December, we knew we wanted to bring back our 3rd annual Vision Board Party, but this year, we're co-hosting this really fun event with Maggie of MaggieGentry. There's no better person to work on this event with because Maggie is a living, breathing supporter of The Paper + Craft Pantry and honestly, just an incredible fellow business owner. 

We asked our owner, Pei and Maggie some questions to get an insight on how they use their vision boards for their business. 

And if you're in Austin, be sure to RSVP below to our 2017 Vision Board Party next month! 

What’s the first thing you do when creating your vision board? What are some important things to consider?

Maggie:
For me, the most important first step is to ask two questions, "What is it that I specifically want this board to embody?" and "How do I ultimately want to feel?" For me, it's important to first gain clarity around what question I hope this vision board will help me answer, or what goal I hope this board will help me visualize, and then use the second question of understanding how I want to feel to help me find the perfect images when I'm flipping through the magazines.

I always like to spend some time journaling before I create a vision board to help me solidify an intention. It always helps to have your favorite music playing, too!

Other logistical tips: Have glue sticks and tape because you never know what you might need to fashion together. Lay it out first, take a picture for placement, and then go back to glue it down. I like to put some craft paper down on the table so that I can use my glue stick with abandon and not worry about messy clean-up afterwards!

Pei:
Creating a space to create your vision board is really key. I actually carve out designated time for this, limit distrations and try to clear my mind of all the daily to-dos and other miscellaneous thoughts so I can pour what I truly want into my vision board.

I take a few moments to take some deep breaths and visualize my business in the future, without any limitations, without any expectations... It's so important to visualize your future without anything or anyone interferring what you truly want for yourself and your business!

While that vision is still fresh in my mind, I flip through magazines and articles and snip out images or words that are in line with my vision.

Vision board and goals - same thing?

Pei: Yes and no! I think they are intertwined for sure, and there's obviously a lot of overlapping. I create my vision board separate from my goals, typically after I've set some goals. They do serve as a visual reminder but have a little bit more of an abstract feel which lends to more ebbing and flowing than structured goals!

Maggie: I think they complement each other really well. Goals are helpful to speak out loud or write down somewhere, but what we often do is write them in a notebook, and then forget about them. The beauty of a vision board is that it's visual! And it's meant to be displayed where we can see it often. Vision boards can often help us express a certain aspect of our goals that we can't quite put into words just yet, or maybe we're too scared to voice it out loud, or maybe we weren't quite even sure we wanted that until we see how the vision board came together, and that one element has prominent placement. It is a tool that can help us reflect on if our goals are on the right track, and also to remind us on a daily basis to keep moving forward, especially on those tough days.

How do you use your vision board day to day?

Maggie: It's hanging on the wall right above my desk, so I see it everyday! I like to look at it right before I sit down for a morning meditation, and it's a helpful respite if I'm feeling like I'm drowning in work——I can sit back in my chair and remind myself why I'm doing this.

Pei: Having it front and center in my work space is a great reminder. It's something I have to look at daily and it's a wonderful check-in as to how I want my day to go, and what I can be doing (even little things) that's going to get me towards the things on my vision board.

For your business?

Maggie: It's a bit one in the same for me. The particular vision board that I have right now above my desk, I created with the question, "What do I want for my business in 2018?" So it is a nice reminder to keep me going on those days when I feel like I'm losing all hope and direction.

Pei: It's so easy to feel overwhelmed with owning a small business. There are some days when things feel so great, and other days when I'm still wondering what on earth I am doing. I love having my vision board to look at, take a breath or two, and pull me back in to why I do what I do.

How does a vision board help you with your business?

Pei: A specific example would be a potential partnership or collaboration, I'm naturally inclined to say yes to everything. But an easy way for me to be sure these opportunites are in line with my business's core values is to take a little peek at my vision board and see if this particular relationship or project "feels" like it fits in it.

Maggie: As a small business owner, I feel like we have face our fears often. Since I created this vision board to help me visualize growth for my business, looking at my board helps me gain the confidence I need when things feel scary or when I'm nervous to make a decision about something. It helps me stay aligned with My Why.

Where do you keep your vision board? How often do you create a vision board?

Pei: I keep my vision board on a bulletin board right across from my desk. And I re-do/re-create my vision board at least twice a year, around the same time I revisit my goals!

Maggie: Mine is hanging eye-level on the wall in front of my desk at home. I look at it all the time! So far, I've been creating one vision board a year to help me plan for what's ahead in the upcoming year.

Want to join us for our upcoming community 2017 Vision Board Party? 

papercraftpantry-austin-community-visionboard-goalsetting.jpg

DEC 13

 

6PM - 7 PM

Join us for an evening of inspiration and fun! 

D.I.Y. Round Up: 6 Holiday D.I.Ys To Try

Pei Sim


The Paper + Craft Pantry Holiday D.I.Y. Best Picks

Happy Thanksgiving Week (and almost December)!

We don't know about you, but we're definitely the kind of folks who decorate for Christmas before Thanksgiving, have classic Christmas movies playing and listen to Christmas music as soon as we get our first cold front, and we're not sorry about it at all!

Okay, we're officially 10 days from December and 35 days away from Christmas! Anyone else already guilty of listening to Christmas music or already decorating for the holidays? 

We've been scouring the internet for some of our favorite holiday and Christmas D.I.Y.s to share with you. So without further ado, here are our top 6 holiday D.I.Y. to try this year including one of our very own! 

BRB while we craft our little hearts out this week as we take a break from the shop to spend time with friends and family...

p.s. We're doing something fun for Small Business Saturday on November 25th that you're not going to want to miss - more details at the bottom of this post and how to RSVP!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Winter Holiday DIY Round Up: Christmas Door Wreath

Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit than hanging a wreath on your front door don't you think? This simple D.I.Y. can transition through the seasons by adding or removing accent pieces! 

The Paper + Craft Pantry Christmas DIY Round Up-Live Free Miranda + Live Free Creative Blog Wood & Brass Towel Holder

No time to redecorate every single room for all those holiday visitors? This wood + metal D.I.Y. is a great and fun way to spruce up your guest bath for all those holiday guests! 

Photo Credit: Live Free Creative Co.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Christmas Round Up- The House That Lars Built: DIY Paper Christmas Cactus

Bring a little bit of the outdoors inside with this adorable paper cacti D.I.Y.! Such a fun twist on traditional holiday decor and table shapes! 

Photo Credit: The House That Lars Built

The Paper + Craft Pantry Holiday DIY Round Up- A Beautiful Mess: Dress Up Dinner Napkins

Toss the traditional reds and greens aside for a more modern and updated dinner table this season! This colorful D.I.Y. is just the way to do that! p.s. Sewing isn't totally required for 2 of the 3 napkins pictured! 

Photo Credit: A Beautiful Mess

The Paper + Craft Pantry 2017 DIY Round Up-Sugar & Cloth Holiday Blog: 3 DIY Winter Cheesecake Toppers

You didn't think we would get through this D.I.Y. roundup without one about dessert did you? This is right up our alley with how busy the holiday season can get. Baking from scratch is always lovely, but sometimes, all you have time for is store bought. But don't fret, these 3 delicious and gorgeous D.I.Y. ways to dress up a cheesecake will certainly wow your guests! 

Photo Credit: Sugar & Cloth

The Paper + Craft Pantry 2017 Holiday Round Up- A Kailo Chic Life: Pool Float Ornaments
The Paper + Craft Pantry 2017 Holiday Round Up- A Kailo Chic Life: Flamingo Pool Float Christmas Ornaments

This may be one of our favorite ornament D.I.Y. that's floating out in the internet. I mean, do we really need to say any more? 

Photo Credit: A Kailo Chic Life

 

Have a D.I.Y. idea you think we need to know about? Let us know in the comments below :) 


Join us for some post Thanksgiving fun + shopping at this year's American Express Small Business Saturday Pop-Up Party!

We'll be opening up our studio on Small Business Saturday for an afternoon full of surprises, treats and deals. Local vendors Bon Vivant + Rust & Pearls will also be popping up for the day with incredible goodies!


Round Up: Our Favorite Stationery Shops

Pei Sim


sta·tion·er·y

We're team stationery with an "E" and we're guessing you are too!

 

From the West coast to the East, we're sharing some of our favorite paper shops across the U.S.A.  As true paper lovers, we're always on the hunt for new stationery stores to visit when we travel and love getting inspiration through Instagram from some of these spots we've yet to visit ourselves. 

Most of these places are exclusively focused on stationery and though some aren't necessarily just stationery, they qualify because they're independently owned and have a pretty rad selection of paper goodies, scroll down and check them all out!

So go ahead and add these darling shops to your must visit list :) And if you haven't already added us to your list, go ahead and do that too! 


Constellation & Co.

Seattle, WA


Shout And About

Echo Park, CA


Smitten On Paper

Monrovia, CA


urbanic

Venice, CA


Short Hand

Los Angeles, CA


Hammerpress

Kansas City, MO


Chirps & Cheers

Oklahoma City, OK


Merriment

Tulsa, OK



Lion Heart Prints

New Orleans, LA


Shindig Paperie

Fayetteville AR



Greer Chicago

Chicago, IL



Mac & Murphy

Charleston, SC


Paper Goat Post

Orlando, FL


Rifle Paper

Winterpark, FL



CW Pencil Enterprise

New York, NY 


Pink Olive

Brooklyn, NY

 

Did we miss some of your favorite shops? Let us know below so we can add to our list :) 

 

D.I.Y.: Handmade Geode Rock Soaps

Pei Sim


The prettiest D.I.Y. faux geode amethyst soaps!

Y'all, can you believe we are just days away from our official two year anniversary? It's kind of crazy to think how quickly time has flown by! It's truly such an honor to have become a staple in the Austin community (and the interweb community too!) 

The Paper + Craft Pantry has really become the go-to place for all things paper and stationery in town. And with the launch of our online shop earlier this year, we now have hundreds of items on our virtual shelves. It's been so fun sending out online orders all over the United States! 

We've also grown an incredibly loyal following for all of our workshops and events. To date, we've hosted thousands in the hundreds of classes and community events that line our studio calendar. 

Instead of just celebrating over one day, we've decided to do something fun for our entire birthday week! Wanna find out what we have up our sleeves? We're sharing our birthday week plans at the bottom of this really fun D.I.Y. ! 

As we head full speed towards the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, we think it is more crucial than ever to find time to yourself, and extra important to find time to craft and create! This simple and really great D.I.Y. makes a wonderful gift, and will add some fun to your guest bathroom for all those holiday guests! 

HANDMADE GEODE ROCK SOAPS

D.I.Y. PROJECT TIME: 1HR

  • MATERIALS
  • Clear glycerin soap (2lb package)
  • Organic lavender essential oil
  • Liquid soap coloring
  • Microwave safe bowl or measuring cup
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Disposable plastic cups
  • Disposable plastic spoon
  • Knife
  • Ice + water (for ice bath)

1. Cut up soap pieces and place in your microwave safe bowl or measuring cup. Melt slowly and in intervals in the microwave

2. Stir well using your plastic spoon and add in essential oil of your choice. Then add in soap coloring. For faux amethyst, we used purple coloring and added 6-8 drops into melted soap. Stir well.

3. Pour into disposable plastic up. Set in an ice bath to cure for about 10-15 minutes. 

4. While the first layer is curing and hardening, cut up more soap pieces and melt in the microwave.

5. Now add in 4-6 drops of purple coloring to get a slightly lighter shade of purple. Stir well.

6. Retrieve your cup that's in the ice bath. Be sure it's firm before pouring in the second layer.

7. Set in an ice bath to cure for about 10-15 minutes. 

8. While the second layer is curing and hardening, cut up another batch of soap pieces and melt in the microwave. 

9. Add in 2-4 drops of purple coloring to get a very light shade of purple. Stir well.

10. Retrieve your cup that's in the ice bath. Be sure it's firm before pouring in the third and final layer.

11. Once all three layers are hard, carefully cut the plastic cup off. Using a clean knife, cut in abstract/geometric angles to create the look of a geode! 

12. Repeat steps to make all the soaps!

The Paper + Craft Pantry D.I.Y. Handmade Soap Blog
The Paper + Craft Pantry Austin Texas DIY Blog: Geode Soaps
The Paper + Craft Pantry DIY Blog: Amethyst Lavender Soaps
The Paper + Craft Pantry DIY Craft Handmade Soap Blog

THE PAPER + CRAFT PANTRY

BIRTHDAY WEEK CELEBRATION

Thank you all, so very much, for supporting The Paper + Craft Pantry through the years. As a celebration for our birthday week, we'll be giving away goody bags stuffed full of greeting cards, paper goodies, and fun gifts for all purchases made in our East Austin shop as well as online from November 13th- November 19th. 


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Small Business School: SEO 101

Pei Sim


Small Business School Guide on the Basics of SEO to Help Boost Your Brand Presence

If you own a business or run a website, you're probably already familiar with the term 'SEO'—or Search Engine Optimization. It's almost everyone's dream to end up on the first page of Google's search results. But chances are, even after thorough research and trial and error, you still have a long list of questions about how this heavily debated and complex topic actually works. Welcome to a quick crash course on all the SEO you need to know (including an interactive checklist to help keep you on top of the game)! 

In a general sense, SEO is all about establishing a strategy for your online content that will rank higher in search engine results, relative to your competitors. Search engines (such as Google, Bing & Yahoo) all have algorithms in place that “crawl” every published website on the internet 24/7 to help filter results based on what it thinks is most relevant to a user's search.

There are a number of factors that search engines look at to determine the validity of any given website, so while it may not seem like you have control over your ranking there are actually things you can do to remind the internet bots that you, your business, and your website are in fact a real, viable, and thriving business!

Here are the five main ways to help improve the SEO on your site:

1. Content

Content is still king when it comes to developing an SEO strategy! Google wants to see that your site is actively updated, and a great way to do this (particularly if you have a business where you aren't uploading new items to an online store frequently) is to consider writing a blog. If you are just starting out and committing yourself to a consistent blog schedule sounds daunting, then at least aim to update a portion of your site once a month: add a paragraph to your about page, add to your testimonials, or re-write your services description. 

Fun Fact: Web pages that are 1200+ words rank higher than pages with less content.

2. Backlinking

Another element that proves your validity to Google is when other, active, third-party sites link back to yours—and visa versa. Maybe that means you look into becoming a guest contributor for a larger organization’s blog (which is exactly why I enjoy writing these guest posts for The Paper + Craft Pantry, because it’s good for my SEO).

If that doesn’t make sense for you, then at the very least you should consider viewing your social media strategy from the it’s-building-my-SEO lens. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are all validated, “high authority” sites according to search engines. When a post on one of those platforms links back to your site, that’s great for your SEO! So it’s important to not only share your information on your social media channels, but also make it easy for visitors on your website to also share your content by adding social media sharing buttons to your site. You can think of back-linking like online karma; by actively sharing the work of others, you are generating the possibility that a wider audience will start to see your stuff and want to give back for your generosity.

Other Actionable Steps: Consider creating a Resource Page on your website where you list your favorite brands, companies, or other resources that complement your business, or share a “Links I Love” blog post every now and then.

3. Mobile Responsiveness

With as much time that we all spend on our smartphones these days, it is no longer acceptable for your site not to be mobile-friendly. And search engines will really punish you (in terms of ranking) if your site isn’t mobile responsive. If you’re unsure if your site is mobile-responsive, pull out your phone and check! You shouldn’t have to scroll left and right to read the content on the webpage, nor should you have to zoom-in to read the text. A mobile-responsive site automatically increases the text size so that you can read it easily, and so the page fits perfectly to the screen. 

4. Site Load Time

Large image and video files can slow down how quickly your site loads, and the slower your site loads, the more likely you are that people will leave. In order to limit that possibility of people leaving before they even have a chance to see your amazing content, ensure that your image files are all less than 2 MB. Ideally, your site will load in less than 5 seconds. You can test your site here to see how it ranks in your industry.

5. Meta Data

While a lot of what I've mentioned so far pertains to written content on the front-end of your site, one area that most people overlook in terms of increasing their SEO falls on the back-end—meta data. You can strengthen your meta data by adding keywords to as many places as possible on your site—including, but not limited to the way you name your image files! By renaming your images to a keyword-rich phrase, you have the possibility of ranking higher in the Google Images results. Instead of uploading “IMG_2147.jpg”, you want to rename that image file to something that describes the content of the post that it corresponds to.

For example,  the banner image on this post was renamed to “paper-craft-pantry-blog-small-business-school-guide-to-seo-printable-checklist.jpg”. When someone searches for “seo checklist” or "guide to seo" in a search engine, the hope is that this post will show up on one of the first few pages. Now, since 'SEO for beginners' is a pretty popular topic, it’s not likely that this post will end up in the Top 10 results—but each time you publish quality content with a strong keyword-rich title, associated with images that have the same and similar keywords in the file names or captions, you continue to boost your result rankings.

But be warned... there is such a thing as too many keywords (also known as Keyword Stuffing). To ensure that you aren't targeted for this, you'll want to make sure that your keyword phrases are naturally a part of the content you share. For example, if you are writing a blog post about DIY macrame planters, then an example of keyword stuffing would be if you added something like this to the very end of the post: 

"DIY macrame planters, Do It Yourself macrame, How to make a macrame planter, macrame 101, macrame for beginners, macrame basics"

Pro-Tip: Consider using those various phrases you found and rename your image files with those keyword phrases. As far as content, pick one phrase, and use it 2-3 times within the entire blog post.


While these 5 steps will definitely set you on the right path to help boost your online presence, SEO is constantly evolving, and it requires that you be patient and diligent in order to see results. Your SEO efforts are cumulative, so the more you add content to your site, the more you contribute to other blogs and the more you keep up with the SEO best practices, the better your rankings will become. If you have the capacity to earmark a budget for Google AdWords, that will also help!

Here are a few resources that have helped me with my SEO over the last two years:

Moz has so many great resources for keeping up-to-date on the latest SEO trends! If you’re wanting to learn more, I would start with their Beginner’s Guide to SEO. Moz also has a Keyword Explorer that is really helpful to utilize as you’re thinking about what to title a blog post, or new ideas for keyword phrases for the multiple images you have for your upcoming post.

Another resource that I use often is Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It’s meant to help you determine which keywords to use during an AdWords campaign, but I use it to help me think of new keywords phrases when I’m getting ready to publish a blog post. It shows you on average how many monthly searches a particular phrase received, so you can adjust your blog titles and the keyword phrases you use when naming images to a mix of those that have a high and medium range of monthly searches.

In order to use this feature, you will have to create a Google AdWords account, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend any money on an AdWords Campaign. To navigate to the Keyword Planner, follow these steps:

  1. Head over to this link.

  2. Scroll down and click on “START USING KEYWORD PLANNER”.

  3. Click the first option “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category”.

  4. In the first box, type the phrase you would like to search.

  5. Then scroll down and click “Get Ideas”.

  6. From there you’ll see all the possibilities of other keyword phrases that you may use.

To help keep you on track, The Paper + Craft Pantry and I put together this helpful (and interactive) checklist to guide you through the most important SEO requirements you should be focusing on right now...and over the next year!  Fill out the form below to have it sent to your inbox. 


Looking for a little more guidance? 

DOWNLOAD THIS INTERACTIVE CHECKLIST

Improve your online presence with this interactive SEO 101 Checklist 
Small Business Beginners Guide to SEO with an interactive and printable checklist download

Maggie Miller, with MaggieGentry Thought Partner, Austin TexasAbout the author:
Maggie owns MaggieGentry, where she provides thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. She hosts Own Your Why workshops, and is the Creative Marketing Strategist for The Paper + Craft Pantry. You may find her ‘gramming over at @maggiegentry_. If you need more SEO guidance for your business, feel free to check out her one-on-one Strategy Sessions.


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D.I.Y.: Rope Jewelry Holder

Pei Sim


Simple DIY Rope Dishes for your collections of rings, keys, tchotchkies and knick-knacks

We're extremely guilty of hoarding cute little tchotchkes, including but not limited to miscellaneous crafting and office supplies, on our desks. Sometimes you just need a spot to gather all these odds and ends in one place! 

This month's D.I.Y. uses three materials you are likely to already have around your home, and we're particularly loving that it adds a little natural-meets-minimalist vibe to our desk decor with the perfect little pop of color! Whip these up in a matter of minutes and have the perfect way to organize all the knick-knacks you have lying around or dumped into drawers.

For Pei's home office organization tips, head over to this behind-the-scenes peek on the blog of her recently renovated studio space. 

Organize your room by learning how to make a DIY ring dish from 5 simple materials

D.I.Y. ROPE RING DISH PROJECT DURATION: 15 MINS

  • MATERIALS
  • 3/8" Cotton Cord
  • Embroidery Floss (in your favorite colors)
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Small dish or bowl

1. Flip your dish or bowl upside down and add a little dab of hot glue to the end of the cotton cord and start wrapping the base of the dish. 

2. Apply hot glue on the cord as you coil it around the dish *pro-tip: wait until the entire bowl has finished cooling before you pick off the "strings" of hot glue!* 

3. As you reach the edge of the base of your bowl, continue to work down the sides of the dish and your cord will shape to the dish. 

4. For an added pop of color and to finish off the top of our rope dish, we used embroidery floss to secure + wrap around the end! 

5. Make as many as you like! Use different size dishes or bowls to create a whole set, or group of nesting rope ring dishes :) 

Simple DIY Rope Dishes made for rings, keys, tchotchkies and knick-knacks
Learn how to make a simple DIY ring dish out of rope
Craft a DIY rope bowl jewelry holder from 5 simple materials you already have at home

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