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

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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: Going Brick + Mortar PT 2

Pei Sim


Small Business School on the FAQ of opening a Brick + Mortar 

A little over a month ago we shared Part 1 of Going Brick + Mortar, providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about what all went into opening our storefront. We received a lot of great feedback, including some additional questions from y'all, so this is a little continuation of that post in hopes that these answers help future aspiring shop owners as they navigate through growing their business!

xo, 
Pei


What made you decide to make the leap?

After owning an online-based small business for 2 years, I was at a crossroad of sorts. I wasn't completely sure what direction I wanted to grow my business and it took a little bit of time to really hone in on what parts of a small business I loved most. I was able to conclude that I still loved all things paper and wanted to support fellow paper based businesses. The other big part of owning a small business I loved was the people. All the small businesses I'd seen grow from people who worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, the ones who worked late into the night and weekends, the ones who weren't afraid of hard work and paying their "dues" to get their businesses off the ground. I wanted to grow a business that could accomplish both my goals of paper + stationery and supporting the community.

Blending the two, The Paper + Craft Pantry is pretty much equal parts stationery and paper retail plus a workshop studio. The retail portion enables me to fulfill my love of paper and gives me the opportunity to work alongside some seriously incredible designers. The workshop portion allows me to partner with other small businesses to co-host incredible classes and events for our community!

It was absolutely terrifying committing to a lease—there are so many little things you don't think of until you're in the thick of it. You can see more about what I'm talking about in our PT 1 edition of this blog two part series here. 

What were some unexpected things that happened after you opened?

In total transparency, I didn't realize I would be tired ALL. THE. TIME. When I first opened, I was the sole person working at the shop. That meant physically being in the space 6 days a week during our open hours, in addition to working from home the hours we were closed. That's extremely draining—not so much physically, but emotionally—for someone who is actually borderline introverted!

I also didn't realize I would end up meeting so many folks, from first-time guests who've become loyal customers, to visitors from out of town (and even the country) who had The Paper + Craft Pantry on their list of places to visit in Austin!

And I know you all are also curious about the not so fun/good side of the unexpected, so here goes. I didn't expect to have to actually get an attorney involved with Trademark issues—again, I know that really, anyone can open up a business and try to replicate my business. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little naive in the beginning and I may have been a little bit too forthcoming with business information with people who may not have deserved to know those things! Alas, you live and you learn, and the not so fun/good unexpected has only allowed me to grow the business (and also, in a lot of ways, personally!)

What's been the hardest thing you've had to deal with in regards to a physical store?

One of the hardest things is learning to not take things personally. People have said our classes were too expensive. People have said our products are too pricey. People have been upset that we aren't open for longer hours, or 7 days a week.

I've learned (and am still practicing this learning) that The Paper + Craft Pantry isn't for every one. Just one example: Not everyone is going to understand that our workshop tickets goes towards enabling us to stay open in a very competitive and expensive real estate market, it allows us to compensate our instructors who in turn can support and grow their businesses. Most also don't realize that a workshop isn't just the 1-2.5hrs of an actual class, the amount of time and energy that goes into preparing before adds up!

What's been the best thing you've learned with running a b + m shop?

The very best thing I've learned so far is to trust in the process, and trust in the work I'm doing with The Paper + Craft Pantry. I always try to find gratitude in even the toughest and yuckiest situations, because it's there y'all. You just have to really dig sometimes to see it!

Okay, so I'm ready to make the leap/I've had my opening/I've been open for a year, what next?

Never stop growing and learning. A successful business that grows is constantly evolving! Think big picture and set some real, intentional goals for your business.

Still want more?

Email pei@thepapercraftpantry for more information about her Small Business Creative Mentoring Program.

What it's like to open a brick and mortar. You have questions we have answers!

D.I.Y.: Summer Stitched Bandanas

Pei Sim


Do it Yourself Summer Stitched Bandana Accessory

We're all about adding a little bit of fun into our every day, and we couldn't pass up a way to upgrade a simple cotton bandana for your summer wardrobe.

With some summer inspiration, we stitched up an accessory that is so cute you can even whip one up for your furbaby (warning: cute puppy photos, below)

DIY Embroidered Summer Scarves
DIY Embroidered Summer Bandanas

D.I.Y. SUMMER STITCHED BANDANAS

PROJECT TIME: 30 MINS

  • MATERIALS
  • Needle + Embroidery Floss
  • Paper + Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Optional: Sewing Machine

Step One:

Fold and iron your bandana the way you want to wear it (as a scarf, tied to your bag or as a little bandana for your fur baby. 

Step Two:

Sketch out the design you want to stitch to your fabric. Remember to keep your drawing simple. The more details the harder it will be to mimic with your embroidery floss. Since we were going for a summertime theme, we settled on a watermelon, popsicle, pineapple and tree. 

Step Three:

Trace the outline of your design in pencil onto the fabric. (Don't worry if you make stray marks. You can always handwash any visible lines out with soap and water). 

Step Four:

Use various types of embroidery stitches (running stitch, back stitch and satin stitch are the most popular) to complete your design.

Step Five: (Optional)

If you're making a bandana for your pet, simply measure the length of their collar and trim down the bandana accordingly. The longest end of the trimmed bandana should match the length of the collar. Once it does, fold the bandana once over the collar and sew along that edge. Your pet's collar will be able to feed into the bandana to make for a hassle-free accessory!

And, Ta-da! You're all finished. Don't forget to tag us on Instagram @thepapercraftpantry with a photo of your completed design! 

Stitched Scarves for Summertime 
Summer Stitched Bandanas 
DIY Summer Stitched Bandanas for Dogs

Round Up: 2017 Summer (re)Reading List

Pei Sim


Best of Austin's Summer Reading List 2017

One of our favorite community initiatives here at The Paper + Craft Pantry is our #atxbookclub!

From personal development books to classic novels, we have had so much fun getting together to share our love of reading in Austin over the past (almost) two years! We welcome everyone to join our monthly discussion group and have gotten to know some of the very best women in town. 

In case you haven't been able to make it to one of our meetings, we rounded up our top 5 favorite books that we've read so far this year (and wouldn't mind re-reading again, and again)! 

1. Year of Yes

With good laughs and incredible life lessons sprinkled in between inspiration, Shonda is our girl. It doesn't hurt that she also created some of our favorite T.V. shows!

2. Chasing Slow

In a society where everything is fast and everyone wants more, Erin poses the very interesting contrast to doing things slower, and doing less. This is a book that we personally couldn't put down!

3. Daring Greatly

This was one of the first books we read in 2017, and Brené nails it with another great read! Learn how to identify shame and vulnerability, to really go after your dreams.

4. Big Magic

We won't give too much away, but there's a particular story in there about the Amazon that was a light bulb moment for us...

5. Essentialism

This another book that we've added to our "books to re-read often" list. In the world of pursing minimalism, Greg shares incredible insights with practical data to back them up.

What books are you reading this summer? We're always looking to add new books to our reading lists, so let us know your favorites in the comments below! We'll be sifting through these recommendations to find the perfect read for September, when our #atxbookclub returns! 

Best 4 Books to Read this Summer 2017, Austin Texas

Small Business Chats: Mindy Sepeti

Pei Sim


paper-craft-pantry-blog-small-biz-chats-mindys-bakeshop-banner.jpg

If you've had the chance to take one of Mindy Sepeti's Cookie Decorating Workshops in our studio, you already know that Mindy has one of the most contagious smiles around town! In addition to sharing her passion through teaching, Mindy and her newlywed husband, Kenny, own and operate Mindy's Bakeshop—a from-scratch bakery and dessert catering company in Austin. As another local boss babe, we wanted to sit down with Mindy to find out more about her inspiration behind everything cookies, cakes and small business! Plus: don't forget to check out the awesome video we put together of Mindy's decorating skills in action👇🏼. We know we can't be the only ones obsessed with clips like these!!

Mindy and Ken Sepeti with Mindy's Bakeshop
Cookie Decorating with Mindy Sepeti
Mindy's Bakeshop custom cookie decorating austin texas
Austin bakery Mindy's Bakeshop custom cookies and cakes

When/How/Why did you open Mindy’s Bakeshop?

After several years of baking on the side while holding full-time kitchen jobs, my husband and I decided to take the big leap in June of 2015! We quit our day jobs and put everything we had into making this our reality because we were equally passionate about a) producing the highest quality bespoke baked good around and b) working in our pajamas every day!

What is your favorite thing about what you do?

Oh gosh, there are so many favorite things to choose from! Doing what I love on a daily basis is maybe the most significant. Watching people go nuts over a cake or a set of cookies. Getting the emails saying that their guests raved about the desserts at an event. It’s so satisfying to know that you’re making people happy on some small level. The working in pajamas part is a close second!

Buttercream or cream cheese frosting?

This feels a little like choosing a favorite child! But generally, unless it’s carrot cake (which just happens to be one of my most favorite things in life... and using anything other than cream cheese frosting would be an abomination) or red velvet, I’m a Swiss meringue buttercream gal.

What's your proudest small business moment?

I think the biggest moment for us came last year when Instagram invited us to participate in a small panel of local business owners at their Austin Headquarters. It felt like such an achievement for this tiny home-based bakery to be recognized by such an important platform

Do you have any advice for those looking to start their own small business?

Save save save!! Be prepared financially. Taking that leap is scary and you need to be able to support yourself during the slow seasons (and, there will be slow seasons). So going in with a safety net is really important. Also, get out there! Meet as many people as you can and build a network of support. Community is everything as a small biz owner and having good relationships with the people around you is important from both a business aspect and an emotional aspect.

What’s your process for choosing new flavor combinations and ideas for your cookies/cakes?

We pay attention to everything! You never know when inspiration will strike. When it comes to cake flavors, we keep a running list of ideas that we add to pretty regularly and then on our days off will play around with what works + what doesn't.

Are there any Instagrammers you seek inspiration from or think we should be following?

Always! I’m always inspired by @glitterandlazers (her use of color and her perspective on life makes me smile every single day), @fujifiles (her posts always inspire me to pursue new challenges and perspectives, plus her dog is SUH CUTE), and @maggiegentry_ (her feed is somehow calming and exhilarating all at the same time and her words always motivate me to keep on keepin’ on when it comes to small biz ownership).

Who are some of your favorite local makers?

I cannot get enough of Benjamin Soap Co. (best candles in the city, imho) and I loooove Confituras for all things jarred and pickled! When it comes to jewelry and clothing, I’m a huge Nina Berenato and Daisy Natives fan. But really, have you seen the talent in the city?! There are too many amazing makers to count.

What’s your favorite dessert spot in Austin?

Elizabeth Street Cafe for the caneles, Blue Dahlia Bistro for the creme brûlée, or Amy’s Ice Cream for a scoop of Mexican Vanilla with crushed up strawberries. All three are like a little piece of heaven on earth! (Also, I obviously have a thing for custard…)

Any exciting plans for Mindy’s Bakeshop in the next year?

We just launched our seasonal and custom DIY Cookie Kits, so that’s been a lot of fun, and we’re also so excited to focus more on cookie decorating workshops around the city (...and maybe even state!) Other than that, we’re keeping our heads down and working hard in the hopes that we can move this home-based bakeshop into an actual house next year. Operating out of a tiny apartment comes with challenges and, while we love it, we’re so ready for a home to call our own with room for Mindy’s Bakeshop to flourish and the ability to serve more clients!


paper-craft-pantry-workshop-cookie-decor-101-cacti-cookies-03.jpg

Ready for the

Best Cookies in Town?

If you're looking for an instant mood booster, head over to Mindy's Instagram to scroll through some pics of the cutest cookies in town! 

*Photo of Mindy + Kenny by Chelsea Laine Francis Photography

D.I.Y.: Fold Over Every Day Clutch

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog DIY Projects

It may come as a shock, but the one thing that I haven't gotten around to learning is how to sew on a sewing machine. Which is honestly a good thing, because it sort of gives me some boundaries when it comes to narrowing down new D.I.Y. projects. Like most creatives, I personally tote around (no pun intended), a fairly large bag that houses everything that I need for the day. This includes but is not limited to the following: my phone, laptop, laptop charger, main planner, secondary planner, main notebook, secondary notebook, to-do list, wallet, checkbook, water bottle, snacks... Point is, there's a lot of stuff that just gets tossed in.

Naturally, finding specific things in the abyss—that is my tote—can be a nightmare. And one of my most infamous and most said sentences throughout the day is "Where's my phone?" If I'm being honest, most of the time it's buried in the bottom of my bag.

So, I knew I needed something that would be versatile, fit inside a bag (because everyone needs a bag inside a bag right?), and would require little to no sewing.

This extremely simple clutch double duties as a place to house my important, smaller items—even stationery. And it's versatility allows me to use it as a "proper" purse when running to and from meetings, without having to lug my entire work tote with me!

It also happens to be the perfect travel companion, if you're traveling this summer- you're going to want to download our free ultimate travel check list here!

xo,

Pei

D.I.Y. EVERY DAY CLUTCH

PROJECT TIME: 25 MINS

Paper Craft Pantry DIY Craft Blog Travel Every Day Clutch
  • MATERIALS
  • Canvas cloth
  • Heatbond tape
  • Leather cord
  • Thread + Needle
  • Ruler
  • Scissors

Step One: Cut your base canvas cloth (this will be the "body" of your clutch) 6.5" across and approximately 13" long. *Pro-tip: Cutting the fabric a little larger than you want is a good rule of thumb, you can always trim off the access*

Step Two: Cut your secondary canvas cloth (this will become the fold-over flap of your clutch) 6.5" across and approximately 6" long. *Pro-tip: You can choose to cut your fold-over into an angle like I did or get creative on your own*

Step Three: Using the heat bond tape, add the adhesive to the edges of the clutch body and iron on following the directions. Repeat the same to attach the fold-over portion.

Step Four: With a little whip stitch, I stitched on some leftover leather cord to wrap around the clutch!

Step Five: Fill with your smaller, loose items so you'll always know where to find them for every day use. Use as a casual clutch on your next night out! Or even as an additional bag for your next trip!

Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Fold Over Pencil Pouch DIY
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog DIY Crafting
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog DIY Pencil Pouch Every Day Clutch
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Blog Weekend Craft Project

Printable: Ultimate Travel Checklist

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Ultimate Travel Checklist

Who else is excited for this upcoming 3-day weekend?! 
 

Hi, y'all—Emily here! 👋🏼

I've been so busy over at the studio lately,  prepping for a summer full of workshops, events and fun D.I.Y.s for the blog,  that I've been spending what free time I do have daydreaming of a spontaneous weekend getaway! However, I've realized over the years that I'm not as impulsive as I would like to be (I'm all about having a plan, y'all), because I get overwhelmed by figuring out what to pack. Not to mention, my closet looks like bomb went pretty much every morning because it takes me several attempts to coordinate my outfit for the day.

So, as you can imagine, I have a hard time visualizing what to pack. 1 small carry-on and a personal item. You can usually find me at the gate sweet talking the flight attendant to let me get away with the purse that's stuffed into a purse, all stuffed into another even larger purse. And, I know I can't be the only one out there like this.

I'm sharing a FREE downloadable version of my Ultimate Travel Checklist to help encourage you to get ready to jet set & go on a spontaneous weekend getaway! Whether you're planning a little staycation or a trip abroad, I want to see your checklist in action :) Let us know where you're traveling to in the comments and tag @thepapercraftpantry so all of us can live vicariously through you!

Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Travel Checklist Download
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Travel Checklist Printable
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Ultimate Travel Checklist Download
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Printable Travel Checklist