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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 Part I

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Small Business Brick and Mortar

Hey guys! It's Pei here! As we've grown and barrel ahead towards closing out our 2nd year of business, I wanted to take the time to answer some of our most frequently asked questions about our journey to opening up a physical, brick and mortar shop in Austin!

I went through my emails and our contact forms to pull the most asked questions in the hopes this helps future aspiring shop owners as they navigate through growing their business!

p.s. I've broken down this blog into two parts, so feel free to leave any comments that I can answer in Part II, next month!

As a small business owner, I know I'm not the only person in my industry. How do I know if my business stands apart/is ready for a Brick + Mortar?

It's fairly easy these days to start a small business. A small business can mean a lot of—from mom & pop shops, tech start-ups, an Etsy shop, or even a stand at your local farmer's market. A huge differentiator of a small business, one that is going to be around for years to come, is the business owner behind it.

Take the time to write out a clear business plan. Do some research in your market and see what else is out there. Look at what others in your industry are doing well, learn from their areas of opportunities. Formulate a way to make your business your OWN.

No one has the proprietary ownership of owning any single small business, but a smart business owner knows that what they bring to the table is unique. Something that is innovative, ahead of the curve, and fills in the market gap that is missing.

Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Owning a Small Business
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Small Business School Going Brick and Mortar
Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog Owning a Brick and Mortar Store

Real estate is expensive and hard to come by! How did you find the right space?

Again, it goes back to research! Do the leg work and drive around town. Explore neighborhoods and don't be afraid to ask your friends in the small business community.

I had a hard time finding a commercial real estate broker who would work within my budget. So I got in my car every week and drove around neighborhoods to see if there were any "For Lease" signs. I looked online, on Craigslist to be specific. And I enlisted friends to accompany me to view listings.

It took a lot of time, almost a full year for me to find the right spot in town. I wanted to be sure I wasn't opening up too close to any similar businesses in town (remember, there's room for everyone!) And when I found the space we are in now, it was a diamond in the rough for sure (but that's a long story I'll spare you for now!)

When deciding on a neighborhood or part of town, I looked at places where I knew we would be able to add value while bringing something new and fresh to the community.

When creating a budget, what were some unforeseen costs?

Besides budgeting for rent and bills, make sure you have money set aside for the legal side of your business! Also, most rent is base rent that doesn't include NNN (also known as a "triple net," which is an additional dollar amount per sq. ft. a landlord will expect you to pay monthly to maintain community areas/exteriors). Don't forget to also budget for general liability insurance as well as business rental insurance! And last but not least, just a heads up that commercial utilities just cost more!

Speaking of budget, what are some things I should consider in my budget?

  • Monthly rent
  • Utilities (electricity/internet)
  • Subscriptions (merchant fees, Spotify, website, email)
  • Salary (yourself, employees)
  • Miscellaneous (savings, new equipment or furniture)

How do you know when it's time to hire someone?

There really isn't a right time, and it's hard to tell when it would make sense to bring someone on board! But taking a step back to look ahead to the future helps! I knew we would need support with the business eventually, and knew I didn't want to wait until we were maxed-out before starting to look for the right person to join our team. In the case of hiring Emily, our Studio Director, I started looking for the right person for this role almost 6 months before I knew the business would "need" a Studio Director. And to be honest, we probably could have gone another few months without needing someone. But, when you find the right fit, you'll know!

Do you have more questions you want answered? Submit them in the comments, below, and I'll answer them in next month's follow-up post: Going Brick + Mortar Part II

How-To: Unlikely Floral Vases

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog How To Create Floral Arrangements in Unlikely Vases

If I had to pick one thing — other than paper — that I consider to be a favorite, it would have to be flowers. There's nothing quite like a fresh little arrangement to brighten up the studio or my desk at home and, honestly, it doesn't matter if it's beautifully arranged from a local florist or a simple bouquet from Trader Joes!

It may seem unconventional, but when it comes to adding flowers into my day-to-day life, I thoroughly enjoy using vessels and glassware that aren't typically meant to be used as a vase. Folks who ask where I get my vases from are always pleasantly surprised when I tell them it's actually drinkware!

There's something therapeutic about arranging beautiful blooms into a fun vessel, even if you have no experience with flower arranging. I typically refer to one of my favorite books, The Flower Recipe Book, for inspiration... and let's be honest, sometimes flipping through the pretty pictures is just a good way to unwind!

So without further ado, here's a round up of my five favorite drinkware that double as unique and unlikely vases!

Paper Craft Pantry Austin Blog DIY Unique Glassware Flower Vases

This brass wine glass is the perfect size for a small arrangement — use a set of 3 for a centerpiece that's timeless.

If simplicity is your middle name, you're going to love using these stemless champagne flutes. Just add a stem or two of your favorite blooms!

These drinking glasses add a touch of vintage feel with their elegant design. I love using these with lots of greenery and simple neutral blooms. p.s. They're also available in an array of colors!

Keep things classic and natural with these clay handleless cups.

Anyone else loving all things copper + rose gold! Turn your favorite Moscow Mule cocktail mug into the cutest vase.

Feeling inspired to now turn your own drinkware into vases? Snap a picture and share it with us on Instagram or Facebook!

xo, 
Pei

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Unlikely Floral Vases for Mothers Day
Paper Craft Pantry Blog How to Create Floral Arrangements in unusual vases
Paper Craft Pantry Blog How to Create Unlikely Floral Arrangements

Small Business School: Marketing Priorities

Maggie Miller


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Small Business School Marketing Priorities 

Hi there! It's Maggie 👋🏼, the creative marketing gal behind The Paper + Craft Pantry. 

If you're a small business owner, it's likely that you've asked yourself "What are the best ways I can be marketing my business to my customers?" This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself, but it's not always easy to answer. But, I'm here to show you how to create a creative marketing road-map that will lead you in the direction of long-term growth! 

The exciting, and often exhausting, piece of marketing is that it’s all an experiment. In the digital age, if we create an ad that isn’t converting like we want it to, we can update the image or the copy instantaneously. But we can easily find ourselves in the rut of constantly changing things, if we don’t know where we’re headed. In that vein, I would say the very first thing you should consider is: What is your main objective for doing this? What is the desired result?

Going back to the Instagram example, are you using that as a tool to engage with potential customers and have them get to know you? Or is it imperative that those followers convert to newsletter subscribers?

First, you have to know what it is you hope to achieve, and then you can create a plan around that. With that main objective in mind, you can then make tweaks to your strategy that you think will get you closer to goal, but you must first have that baseline.

What I see all too often is that people equate a marketing strategy with just being present on Instagram. While social media is a key component, it is not (and should not!) be the only platform you use to market your business. Marketing is a comprehensive approach to your business that looks at every single touch point you have with current and potential customers, and it understands that each of those touch points should work for you to get you one step closer to your desired result. For many of us, social media is a great way for customers to get to know us, but what are you doing to get people from your Instagram profile onto your site, or onto your newsletter list?

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Tips for Creative Marketing in Small Businesses

So, What Marketing Platforms Should I Have?

I think it’s crucial to not put all of your eggs in one basket, so I would absolutely encourage you to try different marketing platforms that make the most sense for your business and your audience. I firmly believe that everyone should start building their newsletter list. When it comes to the various social media channels, the bottom line is that we don’t own the content we publish on each platform. Those social media sites are businesses who are looking to grow their profit, which means they will continue to change the algorithm that is preventing our content from being seen in order to push us into paying for ads. Even if you get started tomorrow, aim to start directing people to sign up for your newsletter list because you will then own those contacts.

And like I mentioned previously, the beauty of marketing is that it is an experiment! Get creative with how you spread the word, and it doesn’t all have to be through avenues that cost a pretty penny through traditional advertising (print ads, TV commercials, radio spots, etc.). Look at your personal network, who do you already know that can help you spread the word? What blogs or online publications can you pitch story ideas to help get your name out there and establish you as an expert? It’s always a good idea to try and expand your audience, and you might be surprised how people find you.

What's the best practice for creating a Marketing Timeline?

At the very least, I would encourage you to plan out your marketing efforts a month in advance. For my business, I also do a rough outline each quarter to mark major events to ensure I’m not overlooking some big deliverables, events or milestones. The farther out you are able to plan, the better. It’s important to remember that we are all so over inundated with content that our posts and promotions can easily be lost in the fray. It’s unintentional, and we can’t take it personally. However, we have to plan accordingly, and know that we will have to repeat our information to our audience a few times. We never quite know if they’re seeing our post while stopped at a red light and scrolling through, so we’ve got to share it again with the hope that next time they’ll be in a place to really read, observe, and digest what we’re sharing.

Want to use the exact Monthly Marketing Planner I use? Head over to this blog post for a free download!

With all of that said, here's a list I put together of the top 5 strategies every small business owner should be implementing into their marketing plan. Not only will these steps help you feel more confident about your brand, they will encourage and foster the long-term growth you want. 

  • 5 SIMPLE STEPS FOR A CREATING A MARKETING PLAN:
  • 1. Define Your Success
    It’s so crucial to first determine what the ideal outcome is. Whether you are wanting to build brand awareness as you are just starting out, or you want to drive traffic to your site to encourage online sales — there has to be a clear objective around which your entire marketing efforts are planned.

    2. Speak Directly to Your Ideal Customer and #1 Fan
    Through everything you share, and each post your publish, think of your #1 fan. Keep them in mind as you are drafting the content: What words would they use? What would they find valuable right now? When is a good time for me to share this based on their schedule?

    It is so easy for us to clam up and feel like what we’re saying has already been said or isn’t worthy of sharing. But I so strongly encourage you to push past those insecurities, because your ideal customer wants to hear it from you! They trust you, and don't want to scour the internet looking for information from other sources they don’t know.

    3. Provide Value
    The basic definition of business is to serve others. So with that in mind, it’s crucial that you are providing your audience with valuable information and a valuable offering. If you still aren’t sure how to provide that value, talk to some of your potential or current customers! Ask them questions about what other companies they know in your field and WHY they are attracted to them. Or why not? Seek to understand what your customers believe, and you’ll be well on your way to providing them with an exceptional experience.

    4. Build Relationships
    I believe in the power of growing a business by focusing on relationships and not getting consumed by growing revenue. As a business, it is crucial for us to make money, but I truly believe you will have staying power if you care about the people behind the numbers. That care and consideration leaves people with a feeling that is much more powerful than a simple transaction. So how can you make a slight change to your process to allow for more relationship-building in your business?

    5. Find Your Consistency
    Staying consistent is so crucial to any successful marketing strategy. And while I know that there are industry standards for how many times you should post to Instagram and how many blog posts you need to publish every month/week, I like to kick those standards to the curb. As small business owners, we’re wearing all the hats, and writing 2-3 blog posts every week while also doing the work can feel impossible. Do not jeopardize your health and/or happiness for some industry standard. Find a schedule that works for you. If that means you start with one blog post a month - awesome! If you value family time on the weekends, keep your Instagram posts to weekdays only.

    Whatever your schedule looks likes, define it, and then stick to it. Because in the end, it’s consistency that builds trust when you show up again and again, just as expected.

Still Craving more?

Own Your Why is a program I’ve developed to help small businesses better understand my approach to Introspective Marketing. The cornerstone of the program is to take the time to pause and reflect before reacting. Having a clear understanding of all the marketing factors at play, can make that pause a little easier to practice. So we get started with that very first piece of defining success for our marketing plan, and then going through each of the marketing fundamentals that constitute a marketing strategy for your business.

I teach this program in two ways:

  1. Own Your Why: Intensive
    An all-day, small group session. If you’re in Austin, I encourage you to come over to my home where I host it around my dining room table. If you are not based here, or cannot make it in person for whatever reason, you may also stream in remotely. Next available date: Saturday, June 3

  2. Own Your Why: Self-Paced - (Launching May 10th!)
    If you’re like me, then you do your best processing all by your lonesome. I’ve condensed all of the information from the Own Your Why: Intensive into an easy-to-download PDF that you can work through on your own time. I designed it with the idea in mind that you could still use this as a framework for a solo business retreat.

It's important to keep in mind that a successful marketing plan is not made overnight. While everything is rooted in strategy and the fundamentals of marketing, I also understand that as small business owners, it can be hard to try and do all the things. My approach is to work with clients to find a marketing strategy that truly works for them, and to educate and empower them so that they feel confident implementing their own marketing plan.

For me, a lot of that has come from creating a community of other supportive business owners who could help push me to make my business dreams a reality. So, in case you're looking to grow your community, here are a few people I know and trust, who have all helped me along my small business journey. 

  • IT TAKES A VILLAGE! HERE ARE A FEW RESOURCES:
  • Caitlin Horton
    Caitlin is a brand designer and business strategist who is brilliant when it comes to systems and processes. I swear by her Notecard Method when it comes time for any major business planning.

    Devan Danielle
    Devan is a kindred spirit when it comes to wanting to help businesses grow purpose-driven brands. She has recently started an online monthly workshop series and it’s such a wonderful way to meet other small biz owners.

    Linea Mae
    Liz is a designer who is the queen of sales pages and also a brilliant creative strategist. (She’s the beauty & the brains behind the Own Your Why brand and website.) Her newsletters and blog are crazy helpful and packed with good resources.

    Financials for Creatives
    Jenny is a financial coach for creative entrepreneurs. Her gentle approach to a scary topic makes it feel so much more easy to navigate. Definitely sign up for her newsletter because she always shares incredible insight in there!
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Creative Marketing Road Map for Small Businesses

Maggie Miller, with MaggieGentry Thought Partner, Austin TexasAbout the author:
Maggie owns MaggieGentry , where she provides thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. She also hosts the Own Your Why workshops, and is the Creative Marketing Strategist for The Paper + Craft Pantry. You may find her ‘gramming over at @maggiegentry_. Don't forget to check out her brand new Own Your Why: Self-Paced introspective marketing program, launching May 10th.

D.I.Y.: 5 Min Fiesta Pom Pom Coasters

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Fiesta Pom Pom Coaster Cinco De Mayo Craft

Happy May y'all! We're sharing a really fun + incredibly easy D.I.Y. with you all this week just in time for any Cinco De Mayo festivities you may have planned! We are so confident that anyone can complete this D.I.Y. we're going to go ahead and call it one you can file under a Pinterest WIN!

So add some flair to your margaritas this Friday with our Fiesta Pom Pom coasters that take less than 5 minutes to create! Yes, just 5 minutes!

D.I.Y. FIESTA POM POM COASTERS

PROJECT TIME: 5 MINS

Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Colorful Pom Pom Pinterest Coasters
  • MATERIALS
  • Stiff felt
  • Pom Poms
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors

First, cut out 3.5" felt circles using your scissors (Don't forget to use stiff felt, it's firmer than the normal sheets of felt)

Then, allow your hot glue gun to heat up and apply glue + pom poms to cover the surface of the felt circle.

Last step? Add your drink of choice, and in this case, a margarita on top of your new coaster!

Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Fiesta Party Pom Pom Coasters
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Colorful Pom Pom Party Coasters
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Rainbow Colorful Happy Hour Coasters
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Fiesta Cinco De Mayo Margarita Coasters
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Austin Blog Fiesta Margarita Coaster Craft

Small Business School: How To Pitch Your Brand

Pei Sim


The Paper Craft Pantry Blog How to Pitch Your Brand to Retail

Our business here at The Paper + Craft Pantry consists of 50% retail shop and 50% workshops and events. As we've grown, so has the number of inquiries and product pitches we receive on a weekly and sometimes even daily basis.

At the core of our business, we value our people — from our customers + fans, to the small business owners we work alongside to share their incredible products on our shelves. It may not be the best or fastest way to grow our business, but we believe in growth through building organic relationships. We'd like to think that doing things the right way from the beginning sets our business up for success not just in the interim, but for years to come.

We've learned a lot as we've grown, and feel honored that so many brands and businesses reach out to us in the hopes of a wholesale partnership. So, we've identified some key do's and dont's when it comes to pitching your brand (and product) to a potential retailer.

START A RELATIONSHIP

DO:
From a retail business's standpoint, we get a ton of emails, inquiries and product submissions. What can you do to start a relationship with a retailer so your brand jumps to the top of their mind when they are thinking about placing new orders?  If the retailer is in your town or you happen to be traveling to their city, go by for a visit for no other reason than to say hi (seriously, just to say hi) and see the store for yourself! Sometimes seeing a store in person can help you decide if this store is the right fit for your goods and your brand!

DON'T:
Show up without making an appointment! It can come off as disrespectful of the business owner's time if you just pop by and start trying to sell them your wholesale line. It also can be distracting to other customers in the shop if you are monopolizing the business owner's attention!

BUILD A RELATIONSHIP

DO:
Genuinely be a part of their community! Attend their markets, pop-ups and events. Share about these happenings with your community and network. Engage with them on social media (check out our Top 10 Instagram Tips). Reach out to see how you can collaborate with them! Go to their website and learn more about how they accept new wholesale accounts, which are typically simple instructions on how to contact them or a form you can fill out online.

DON'T: 
Ask them to coffee to pick their brain. Okay, let's preface that we love coffee and we love coffee dates. But asking a business owner to spill their business + trade secrets with you over a cup of coffee can be incredibly insulting. You would never go to your favorite restaurant and ask the chef for their recipe, would you? Business owners have worked hard, over many years to grow their businesses and most will tell you that there's no secret formula to being successful. It takes lots of trial and error (and hard work) for them to continue to grow their business!

To put things into perspective: if you are asking someone you don't have an existing relationship with to coffee to pick their brain, you are asking them for their time. So you are essentially asking a stranger to give you, say an hour of their time. This is an hour they will spend away from their own business, away from working towards their business goals and potentially even time away from their family. And that hour of their time is worth more than a cup of coffee.

*Disclaimer: It's 100% fine to ask a business owner out to coffee to get to know them and learn more about their business, for no other reason than you genuinely want to get to know them! Just don't go in with the expectation that you are going to get a crash course on how to build your business*

BE ABLE TO SHARE WHY YOUR PRODUCT + BRAND IS A GOOD FIT

DO:
You should know what makes your product and brand different from others in the industry! You should also know what other types of products and brands are stocked at each shop you want to pitch to know if your goods fit in with existing products.

DON'T:
With retailers being flooded with so many inquiries, this has to be more than, "I love your shop and think your customers would like my (insert product here)." Emails like these are more likely to be skimmed over as they seem generic and insincere.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

DO:
Make sure your products are stocked at shops that complement each other and aren't geographically located too close to one another. Smaller retail shops prefer when goods they've stocked can't just be picked up at numerous other stores in the same vicinity.

DON'T:
Oversaturate the market. It's better to build continued relationships with a retailer who will continue to place reorders throughout the year than a one-off order from a shop that may not fit in with your brand.

MAINTAINING THE RELATIONSHIP + INTRODUCING NEW PRODUCT

DO:
Check in with your retailers throughout the year — even when you don't have new release! Send them a holiday card or find out how you can support/sponsor one of their upcoming events. Ask them for product and customer feedback! Present them with a clear line-sheet when you have a new line to launch, and snail mail over some samples (particular designs) that you know they are going to love for their shop!

DON'T:
Only reach out when you want to make a sale! Treat their business the same way you would want them to treat yours :)

We hope these tips help you better navigate business pitches in the future! We know how intimidating it can be to put yourself out there. So, as a fellow small business, we want to encourage you to keep on keeping on. A little research + relationship-building can go a long way!

Small Business School: Instagram 101

Pei Sim

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Small Business School

Navigating how to be an effective communicator on social media can be difficult. There’s a fine line, and knowing what to share and how to share it isn’t always intuitive! So, we asked our Creative Director, Chelsea to share her tips for Instagram.

In the past 7 years, she has managed social media accounts for yogurt companies, million dollar investment companies, a beauty brand, an independent paper company + herself. So, it’s safe to say — when it comes to Instagram — she knows a thing or two. And one of the best lessons she's learned through her experience is that being genuine goes a long way. So, take it from her! Here's a list of the top ten ways you can amp up your Instagram game + still maintain authenticity to both who you are as a person and the brand you’ve created.

1) Use hashtags

Group your photos with other photos that are similar to yours, by using popular hashtags! This will bring like minded people to your page who just might love what they see and follow along. There are also several websites that are a great resources for detecting trending topics and hashtags on Instagram.

2) Styling photos is never a bad idea

Rearrange your coffee & your planner as many times as you want! No one cares... and everyone does it.

3) Take photos in good, even light

You guys! Most everyone can spot bad lighting. Good lighting is fairly simple to find too! Try shooting photos near a window or outside on a textile, table top or poster-board! 

4) Try taking your photo a few different ways

Frame it, reframe it, style it once or twice, frame it again. Mix it up and then you'll have lots of different options to choose from.

5) Edit in A Color Story, Afterlight or VSCO

Make your photos look exactly like you want them to. If you're into making your photos all look similar, you can develop a formula in these apps to give you a cohesive look and feel!  

6) Only work with brands that you like

And tell people why you like them when you post, whether it's a sponsored post or it’s an unsolicited endorsement. The people that follow you are interested in seeing what you like, but they probably might not be interested in seeing something that you don’t really like but were incentivized to post about.  

7) On that note, don't be afraid to make a media kit and pitch to brands

If you want to work with them, ask! They may say no, but if you're into establishing partnerships, it's definitely worth a try!

8) If you like someone, like really really like them say so

Interact with the posts and the people you like! Everyone loves to feel the Instagram love, plus this will make sure you see their posts! It can also make you show up in their similar accounts when other people click to ‘follow!’

9) Tell all your friends about accounts that you really love

All of my favorite accounts on Instagram have come to me by someone saying "Hey, do you follow...?" In addition to sharing IRL, I often share Instagram accounts that I love following directly on Instagram too — especially with the addition of Instagram Story!

10) Don't take any of it too seriously and be sure to enjoy your real life too

Instagram is great! Let it be fun, let it be a place where you can meet new people, and let it be a source of inspiration. If you're ever insecure or feel that the comparison game is just too real, just log out for a little bit! Know that everyone feels insecure sometimes and it’s okay to take a break!

Do you have any additional tips or tricks you use to help promote your presence on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below :) 

D.I.Y.: Potted Paper Snake Plant

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Potted Paper Snake Plant

Spring is upon us, and nothing says spring like fresh new plants! Unless, of course, you lack the green thumb gene. But don't fret! You can learn how to keep real plants alive — it just takes time. In the meantime, we have the perfect little D.I.Y. to cure your greenery woes.

Most of us know that Snake Plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) are some of the easiest house plants to care for. They not only thrive in low light but they survive with very little water too. Many people swear that you can just leave them and forget about them!

However, our version requires zero light, zero water, and promises to never wilt. So go ahead and toss out that sad house plant you have clinging to life, rinse out the pot, and put it to use for this project!

D.I.Y. POTTED PAPER SNAKE PLANT

PROJECT TIME: 20 MINS

Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Paper Plant Project
  • MATERIALS
  • Green card stock
  • Green acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Scissors
  • Upcycled plant pot
  • Decorative stones or pebbles
  • Bamboo skewers
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Spring Time Spruce Up DIY Paper Potted Plant

1. Using your scissors, cut out long/vertical pieces that'll become your "leaves." Don't forget to cut them in varying widths and lengths!

2. With your paint brush, using organic brushstrokes, add on layers of green paint to add some texture to your leaves. Let dry.

3. Once your leaves have dried, fill your planter or pot half full with your pebbles.

4. Adhere the wooden skewers to the back of each leaf. This will help keep your plant upright and keep the paper from curling.

5. Insert your leaves (with skewers) into the pot and arrange with varying height and angles. Fill the remainder of the pot with pebbles.

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Paper Potted Plant DIY Austin Texas

How-To: Curate A Craft Cart

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog How-to Curate A Craft Cart

Most of us, as adults, probably have a bar cart of sorts in our homes. It's almost like an "adult-ing" right of passage — an excuse to now have friends over instead of going out. At least, that's our excuse, since we are on team homebody over here :)

But how many of us take the same amount of time to curate a craft cart? Think bar cart, but minus the booze and glassware and add all of your favorite crafting supplies! It's a fun way to keep all your tools and supplies in one place that also happens to be portable. And it doesn't hurt that it also looks so cute!! 

Paper Craft Pantry Blog How to Style a Craft Cart for Your Home 
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Curating an At-Home Craft Cart 

We've put together a free printable checklist, which we used to organize and style this fun + affordable teal cart from Ikea. So now you, too, can start curating your very own craft cart for your home! And when you're done, don't forget to tag us on Instagram or leave a comment below. We'd love to see yours turns out! 

DOWNLOAD
YOUR FREE
CRAFT CART CHECKLIST!

👉🏼 👉🏼 👉🏼 👉🏼 👉🏼 👉🏼

Paper-Craft-Pantry-Blog-Printable-Ultimate-Craft-Cart-Check-List (1).jpg

Small Business School: Morning Routines

Pei Sim


If you missed our very first Small Business School IRL event, we had the entire Paper + Craft Pantry team (Maggie, Emily, Chelsea and Pei) speaking a little on how our morning routines prove to be a crucial component to our success and daily productivity. After receiving a lot of great questions about what a “successful” morning routine looks like, we wanted to expand a little more on this topic for all of you (even the ones who were unable to attend in person)!

As creative professionals, we definitely don’t abide by the typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work week. However, we believe that a good morning routine transcends what job or career you have and is much more than what time or order you do it in! We're living proof that a finding a great morning routine can lend itself to motivating you to show up as your best self daily and to achieve steps toward your goals! Which, you will see, is a characteristic present in all of our mornings — giving ourselves permission to take space for ourselves, whether it’s 5 minutes or an hour.

Now, we want to emphasize that we don’t have the secret to the “perfect” morning routine — to be honest, we’re not sure that even exists. Our morning routines are constantly evolving and even we sometimes steal a little extra sleep from our busy schedules! So, with that said, here’s a glimpse into our average, everyday morning:

What does a typical morning look like for you?

Maggie:
6:00am: Wake up to have coffee in bed with the hubs.
6:45am: At my desk. Pull a tarot card for the day & write in my gratitude journal.
7:00am: Begin work for the day with a 90-minute sprint; keeping this one dedicated to only things I need to do for my business (write blogs, newsletter, schedule my social media, etc.). I really try to not do client work at this time.
8:30am: Hop in shower, get ready for the day, and eat breakfast.
9:30am: Back at my desk for a 60-minute sprint; typically on client work.
11:00am: First client meeting of the day.

Emily:
8:30 a.m. - My bedroom lights start to dim on
9:00 a.m. - First alarm goes off, take a moment to just cuddle with my dog Breaudi, ask my Google Home about my schedule for the day, or start listening to some upbeat music. Begin drafting emails from my bed, while watching tv.
9:30 a.m. - Look at my planner and make a daily to-do of things that have to get done in the next 24 hours, send drafted emails
10:15 a.m. - Let my dog outside, feed him, get dressed and put on makeup
10:45 a.m. - Make breakfast before heading to The Paper + Craft Pantry, grab a coffee at Sorrentos or set up shop at a coffee shop or Yard Bar with my puppy, or driving to a client meeting.

Chelsea:
5:30 a.m. - Wake up + put on yoga pants.
5:40am - Answer emails
6:00 a.m. - Head to the YMCA or barton springs
7:00 a.m. - Shower + get dressed at the gym. Eat some breakfast on the go. Put on lipstick (I am generally always wearing lipstick + mascara.) Sometimes I go back home to work or sometimes I have a meeting to get to.
7:45 a.m. - Listmaking. What do I have to do today? What am I thankful for today? What is causing me stress today?
8:30 a.m. - First meeting or first work block.

Pei:
7:00 a.m. - Wake up with Evan, laze around in bed and snooze for a bit more, or sneak off to an early morning workout.
8:00 a.m. - Get out of bed and pop onto Instagram (which I know I should do right when I get up) and sift through my emails. I delete junk mail and star important emails that I'll get to later in the day.
8:30 a.m. - I spritz a little lavender mist, make myself a cup of coffee and take Harley out into our backyard
9:00 a.m. - I make my way to my desk, I've been sitting down and choosing 5 and only 5 things of the most important I need to get done for The Paper + Craft Pantry and another 5 for me personally.
9:30 a.m. - Time for a second energizing citrus spritz before I make myself some breakfast (something I'm trying to do more of)!
11:00a.m. - Start getting ready to head into the studio, usually with a pit stop along the way for a second cup of coffee or to pick up workshop supplies for the upcoming week!

Describe your morning routine in 3 words:

Chelsea: early, efficient, joy-producing

Emily: relaxing, efficient, energizing

Maggie: slow, intentional, grounding

Pei: slow, quiet, spontaneous

Why is creating a meaningful morning routine important to your daily success?

Pei: My days are never the same, and often there are so many things to get done and people demanding or needing my attention. So the idea that the mornings — even if its 30-45 minutes — are completely mine is something I really cherish.

Chelsea: It’s important to me because it helps me set intentions for the day + it helps me get focused. By working early, I usually get to work without stress. I look like I’m really on top of things. In a perfect world I’m completely done with work around 3 p.m. or 4 p.m. everyday.

Emily: Since I am not a morning person, creating a time that is meaningful has been crucial to my everyday happiness. If I start the morning off rough (aka too stressful, or too early), my whole day is thrown off. I have especially noticed that, as an introvert, I am less drained at the end of the day when I take the time in the mornings to recharge with some “me time” before starting a day in the studio or meeting clients.

Maggie: It’s hard to know how the day will ultimately turn out, so I have found that dedicating time to my marriage first and foremost, and then to my business, allows me to be more flexible with the rest of the day. Because I know I had a great conversation with my husband, some good time reflecting by myself, and then accomplished my most pressing tasks for my own business, I feel like I am more open and receptive to take on whatever that day throws my way.

How long did it take you to find the routine that works best for you?

Emily: Honestly, morning routines have not ever come easy for me. It wasn’t until I started freelancing a couple years ago that I had the freedom to create an “ideal” schedule that I enjoy and that motivates and encourages my successes throughout the day. But, even still, it’s constantly evolving.

Maggie: A long time! Or at least for me it felt like forever. The hubs and I had talked about getting up early to do coffee for years, and we have tried it several times, but it never stuck. For some reason when 2017 hit, we finally seemed to really dial it in. I’ve been searching for the perfect morning routine ever since I started my business in March 2016, so I suppose I can track it back to a 10-month active, intentional process, but the idea was brewing for a lot longer.

Pei: It's taken me almost a whole year to get into the rhythm and habit of finding a routine that worked best for me. I was totally playing the comparison game and trying out other people's morning routines, and they just didn't work for me! That's the thing about routines, they're so unique to everyone! So it just takes time and flexibility to tweak and change a routine until it's just right for you!

Chelsea: The entirety of my adulthood before April of last year.

What are some challenges you tend to face in the mornings, and how do you overcome them?

Maggie: Wanting to answer all the emails! Thankfully, at 7am there aren’t too many emails coming in, but it’s really hard to resist the urge to start clearing those out versus focusing on completing my own work first. I set a 90-minute timer and give myself specific tasks I want to accomplish in that time. For some reason, having that clock winding down really motivates me to get the work done. And if I finish what I want in less than 90 minutes, I’ll enjoy a little bit of a longer breakfast before getting back to it.

Pei: I sometimes feel extremely overwhelmed thinking about ALL the things I have to do that day, or even that week. By making it a point to only focus on the very most important and crucial projects/tasks, I've been able to shave off the frivolous things that make me feel busy yet unaccomplished!

Emily: Waking up! I love to sleep, and up until recently I was definitely that person that had an annoying barrage of alarms in the morning (sorry, roommates!) But, since getting a Google Home and Wifi enabled lights, I have scheduled a routine that gradually wakes me up so that when my alarm goes off at 9 a.m. I'm typically already alert and stirring.

Chelsea: It’s hard to wake up early in the morning, but for me once I’m out of bed, working comes naturally.

Are there any things you try NOT to do in the mornings?

Chelsea: I try not to pay too much attention to my phone. I also try to never skip breakfast.

Emily: Schedule things before 9 a.m. It is difficult at times, and I make exceptions when I need to... but I've realized that even when I get enough sleep, I am never performing at 100% that early in the morning — and I often leave the house feeling rushed and unprepared for the day. So, to help with this I have also tried my best to not overcomplicate things like my make-up routine and wardrobe.

Pei: I try really hard not to talk, like actually speak. It's the time I let my introvert side recharge since I spend a lot of time talking and speaking for the business!

Maggie: I try not to start client meetings before 11am. I find that I need some time to really ease into my day, and because most of my work is through one-on-one client engagements, I spend a lot of my time in meetings. I need to have that dedicated morning time to actually follow-up and send my clients the resources I’ve promised them.

What’s your approach to mentally preparing yourself to tackle the day’s to-dos?

Maggie: Pulling a tarot card and writing in my gratitude journal are the two practices that really help me feel grounded and ready to start the day. For me, it’s easy to end the day feeling depleted and worn out. I’m probably feeling guilty about all the things I didn’t accomplish, so it’s a nice way to start each day on a positive note - reminding myself of all the good things that I did do the previous day. I think it’s human nature to dwell on the negative and glaze over the positive. This practice has helped me see how much good is happening all around me.

Pei: As I mentioned before, picking a specific number of things to work on and making sure they're the MOST important and getting to decide what is MOST important has been really a turning point for me. Feeling comfortable declining meetings and rescheduling events around the actual space and time I need to be my best has been a challenge for someone who really enjoys saying "Yes!”

Chelsea: I make a to-do list the night before + then I add to it and rearrange it during my morning routine. I also try and be relatively quiet during most of it-- it’s just me a lot of the time.

Emily: One of my favorite mantras of all time is Hakuna Matata. Growing up, my parents always endearingly dubbed me the “worry wart” of the family, and in all honesty anxiety has been something I’ve dealt with my entire life. So, taking a little extra time each morning to remind myself not to worry about the tasks at hand, and combat those feelings by staying organized with lists and to-dos has helped immensely with feeling prepared and productive each day.

What's advice you would give to someone looking to hone a routine that will help them become more successful/productive during the day?

Maggie: My advice would be to experiment, and to be patient with yourself. I think in order for you to find the perfect routine, you have to try different things, and you have to be really honest with yourself about what feels like it’s working versus what is clearly not. It’s an intuitive, personal experience, but it’s also a fun experiment!!

Emily: Don't feel like you have to wake up early to be a successful and driven person. Learn to honor your lifestyle and stop comparing yourself to others' idea of success. You do you!

Chelsea: I would just advise them to try and figure out what works best for them, but don’t automatically assume you aren’t a morning person! I LOVE SLEEP and I have the hardest time getting out of bed to be up that early, but I love getting work done early on. It helps ease my daily stresses to know I’m on top of things.

Pei: Take your time. Take your time to figure out what works best for you and try sticking to it for at least 21 days. I read somewhere once (probably on the internet so it must be true right?) that it takes 3 weeks or 21 days for something you do in repetition to become a habit!

So, as you can tell, our morning routines are so different and yet share similarities. However, one thing we have all managed to find success in is finding a daily practice that energizes you for the day, whatever that means for you.

Do you have a morning routine? We’d love to hear how you encourage your daily success with your routines!  Let us know in the comments below!

*FUN ALERT* Interested in seeing more behind the scenes of our morning routines? Starting Tuesday, April 4th through Friday, April 7th, each of us will be taking over our @thepapercraftpantry story to give you a real-time, real-life peek into our morning routines 👋🏼

D.I.Y.: No Bake Pop Tarts!

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry DIY Craft Pop Tart

Here in the studio, you all probably already know that we may or may not have a sweet tooth problem (but is it really a problem though?)  From snacks to desserts, we just can't resist sweet treats! This calorie-free, no-bake pop tart recipe is sure to blow your socks off!

And just in case you haven't already figured it out, it's April Fools today! And if were really hoping to find an actual calorie-free recipe here, our DIY below technically qualifies ;)

Paper Craft Pantry DIY Supplies No Bake Pop Tarts

NO BAKE POP TART RECIPE (DIY)

PREP-TIME: 15 MIN BAKE-TIME: 0 MIN

  • MATERIALS
  • Felt
  • Needle + Thread
  • Essential Oils
  • Dried flowers
  • Scissors

1. Cut out rectangle pieces of felt (approximately 3"x4"). You'll need two pieces per "pop tart".

2. Cut out a piece of felt for the "icing" on the front of your "pop tart". Stitch on using a running stitch.

3. Using a simple back stitch, sew around the edges of your felt. Don't forget to leave one side open to fill!

4. Fill opening with dried flower mixture and add several drops of your favorite essential oil!

5. Stitch over the opening. And repeat for a whole batch of "pop tarts"

*Pro-tip: Crinkle and squish your "pop tart" every now and then to release the essential oils inside!*

Paper Craft Pantry DIY Blog Stitched Felt Pop Tart
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Blog Potpourri Pop Tarts
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Crafty DIY Projects Stitched Potpourri Sachets
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Faux Baked Pop Tart Potpourri
Paper Craft Pantry DIY Blog Hand Stitched Sprinkle Pop Tart

Recap: The Paper Wall Project

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Paper Wall Project Recap Austin Texas

Earlier this year, we had this fun idea of expanding on our iconic wall mural outside the studio — to bring that fun inside! So we wrangled some of our favorite creative ladies in town and shared our vision for #thepaperwallproject. 

To celebrate the "opening" of this installation, we hosted a happy hour + reveal in our studio that included delicious cocktails from Martine Honey Suckle. And it couldn't have been a more perfect way to kick of the start of this year's SXSW. So without further ado, we'll introduce you to the ladies behind this creative + fun project (from left to right in the image above):

CHELSEA FRANCIS (@ohhhchelsea)
She moved to Austin, Texas two years ago, hit the ground running, and hasn't stopped since. Chelsea’s an extrovert through and through and loves meeting new people at coffee shops, but she also loves working from home alone while watching cheesy sitcoms + Shondaland shows. When she isn't furiously responding to emails (she's an inbox zero kinda gal!) she's fulfilling her childhood dream of being a photographer + getting to meet people from all over the United States

DENISE ROBERTS (@withlovefromding)
One of the last “unicorns” left in Austin - Denise is a born and raised Austinite. Staging & Interiors is what she wants to do when she grows up (check out her awesome business and online home goods store, Love Ding) and she tries to work towards and keep at her goals on a daily basis. She only writes on unlined paper and she drinks mimosas at night.

PEI SIM (@pspapershoppe)
Owner and founder of The Paper + Craft Pantry and self-declared paper hoarder/stationery aficionado since ’94, Pei has always had a bit of a paper problem. She still uses a paper planner and usually has about 7 notebooks at any given time within arms reach. Besides paper, Pei is also really passionate about French fries.

RACHEL GIBERSON (@rachelfromaustin)
A big fan of all things creative, she believes that making things is good for the soul. Rachel spends most of her time adventuring with her two rad little boys and cool husband, but also finds time to build custom art installations. She loves doo-wop music and Alfred Hitchcock and she realizes that this makes her sound like a grandma. 

If you missed the reveal party, don't worry! Stop by the studio anytime during business hours before the end of the month to get the chance to check out #thepaperwallproject. Don't forget to tag us in your photos for a chance to be featured on our Instagram!!

Paper Craft Pantry Instagram Wall Austin Texas
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Community Event Sponsor Martine Honey Suckle
Paper Craft Pantry Paper Wall Project SXSW Art Installation
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Paper Wall Project Art Installation Austin Texas
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Paper Wall Project Austin Texas
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Community Event Paper Wall Project 
Paper Craft Pantry Blog The Paper Wall Project Instagram Wall Austin, Texas

Small Business Chats: Michelle Simmons

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Natural Soy Candles

If you've been to our studio you've probably seen our growing collection of Austin-based Slow North candles, because — well — we're obsessed! Believe it or not, these clean-burning candles only contain three ingredients:  100% essential oils, soy wax and coconut oil.  So, it doesn't take a lot of burn time to fill the whole room with pure scents like Geranium + Rose or one of our personal favorites: Eucalyptus + Lavender. 

We sat down with co-founder Michelle Simmons one afternoon to find out more about her inspiration behind these vegan, zero-synthetic candles and how she and her husband grew their passion project into a growing nationwide brand. Plus, Michelle dished on some of her Austin favorites, local makers and Instagrammers you should be following!

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Natural Soy Candles
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Soy Wax Candles
Paper Craft Pantry Blog 10 Minutes with Slow North

Why did you decide to launch Slow North?

Our idea for Slow North began while I was home on maternity leave with my son. We had rid our home of synthetic, toxic chemical — including most candles. While searching for healthy replacements, I discovered there was a need for well-designed, candles made with straightforward, natural ingredients. That was a year and a half ago!

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Candle Companies
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Best Soy Candles

What makes Slow North different from most candle companies?

We take a lot of pride in creating beautiful, all-natural candles with transparent ingredients. Our candles are made with only essential oils for the fragrances, so you know exactly what’s in them. This is and always will be an important differentiator for our company with any other products we develop in the future (and we have a lot of stuff in store for you guys in 2017!).

What is your favorite thing about your job?

I love working with my hands. Creating something tangible and valuable for our customers brings us great joy. We love imagining the transfer of energy and love from our studio to your home as you enjoy your candle!

How do you decide on the scents for your candles?

Over the last year and a half, we have collected a huge library of essential oils to choose from when formulating a new scent. I’ll start experimenting with recipes by using drops of essential oils on Q-Tips and testing out different ratios. I usually have an idea of the type of scent profile I want to create (floral, relaxing, spicy, etc.). Then once we decide on our favorites, I’ll pour test candles to see if the scent translates well before deciding to add it to our line.

If you had to choose, what's your favorite Slow North candle?

Well, since I’ve created them all...I’m definitely biased. In my office, I burn Grapefruit + Spearmint when I need to focus and get stuff done! It’s our most energizing, pick-me-up scent.  I highly recommended for that afternoon slump!

What's your proudest small business moment?

Being able to hire our first employee! The gravity of being able to employ other people passionate about our mission is hugely motivating. It was definitely a turning point for our business, and I’m proud to be growing with the help of our team!

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

Get started! It’s easy to feel paralyzed by all the choices and decisions and the desire to want it to all be perfect from the first launch, but it’s going to be a process. Our business is still so young, and we’ve already iterated on our design, website and product line at least six times. It can feel scary and vulnerable to take the leap, but it’s more beneficial to start learning what works and what doesn’t sooner rather than later.

What have you been inspired by lately (professionally and personally)?

I just finished reading a book for my book club called “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown, and it’s life-changing. I already want to re-read it again. I especially love the idea of scheduling in time to think by blocking off my calendar from distractions and giving myself permission to say “no.”

What are your favorite things to do in Austin? 

Let’s be real...I love to eat! Little Deli, Mother’s Cafe, Casa de Luz, Bouldin Creek Cafe and Maudie’s are my favorites. My husband and I also love two-stepping at the Broken Spoke!

Who are some of your favorite local makers?

We feel so lucky to be in this amazing local maker community who inspire us daily. Some of our favorites are Claire Sommers Buck Jewelry (she created our custom wedding ring set) and Kristen Saksa Juen (a talented ceramics artist and plant-lover).

Anyone we should be following on Instagram?

Check out @claraepark — she’s the sweetest, and I love her feed’s aesthetic and her romantic calligraphy work!

Any exciting plans for Slow North in 2017?

Yes! We will be rolling out some new lines this spring, including reed diffusers and wax melts. You’ll also see a few other secrets debuting later this summer. 2017 is going to be a fun year of growth and refinement for Slow North, and we’re excited about what’s coming up!

Paper Craft Pantry Blog 10 Minutes with Slow North
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Natural Soy Candles
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Slow North Best Soy Candles

Recap: Bloguettes Workshop Weekend

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Recap from The Bloguettes Branding Workshop

Hi guys! Pei here!

I've been dying to share a sneak peek of the 3-day branding workshop with Bloguettes last month! When they reached out and asked to host the class in our studio, I knew it was a sign. You see, I really, really like learning and have been wanting to attend a business development workshop/weekend conference. But when you own a physical brick + mortar, it's difficult to get away for a whole weekend.

So I suppose when you can't make it out of town, you bring the class right to your studio!

To be honest, I wasn't 100% sure what to expect from the workshop. I knew I would learn a ton from day three, since it was all about Photoshop and Lightroom. But I was so pleasantly surprised to leave each day with pages of notes and action items to share with our team.

The entire weekend left me inspired and extremely excited to grow The Paper + Craft Pantry to it's fullest potential and has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, which I know will only make me a better woman both in business and personally!

And I highly encourage you (whether you own a business or not) to challenge yourself to learn something new! Take a cooking class, read a new book, go to a networking event, sign up for that workshop you've been eyeing- I promise you won't regret it! If there's one thing I know for sure,  the only way to move forward in life both professionally and personally, is to absorb as much knowledge as you can and always be interested in learning!

Are you planning on attending any business related workshops or creative conferences this year? If you are, let me know which ones- it's still a goal of mine to attend one outside of Austin :)

xo, Pei
p.s. I shared more details in a Q&A on the Bloguettes Blog!

Small Business School: Goal Re-Set

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Reset New Years Goals

Hey, y'all! It's Chelsea here. Can I just take a moment to ask: how is it already March?!

According to most studies on New Year’s Resolutions — or, as I like to call them, intentions — you have already failed at something you intended to accomplish this year. Or, if you’re like me, you’re kind of behind...

One of the five intentions I set was to read 52 books by the end of the year. I blazed through January and read 5 books, feeling on top of my game. But it's now the first week of March and I’ve only read 6 books total this year. *sigh*

I know that I’m not alone! If you’re reading this post, it is highly likely that your plans for 2017 are also a bit different than you’d hoped they’d be. Setting goals is wonderful! Deciding to change an aspect of your life, or challenge yourself to improve at something is incredibly admirable. In reality though, life sometimes gets in the way and it's hard not to buy-into the adage: "old habits die hard."

However, I'm here to reassure you that it's not time to throw in the towel! Here are my top five tips for getting back on the proverbial goal-setting horse:

1. Realize you don’t need a new year to set a goal

Today, March 3rd, can be your new January 1! There are still 303 days left in this year—that’s plenty of time to do something great!

2. Study up on building new habits

The most important of which is to assess where things start to break down. Eliminate the moments when you're about to give up by finding ways to make the tasks easier to say 'yes' to.

3. Consider the past few weeks as your practice

It’s easy to get discouraged when things don't work out as planned. But it's also important to realize that these "practice rounds" give purpose to your journey. Practice makes perfect!

4. Visualize what it looks like to succeed

Defining success will help you assess what you really want to get out of the individual goals you set for yourself. What do your goals look like 3, 5 or 10 years from now? For a great exercise, check out this useful (and FREE) goal setting worksheet.

5. Don’t do it alone

Join a book club (we host one at The Paper + Craft Pantry every month), join a running group, talk to your therapist about your goals, tell your family what you’re 2017 is going to look like from now on, or go on walks with your bestie. Whatever you do, surround yourself with a strong + supportive community that will encourage you to succeed and help hold you accountable when you fall down.

I believe in you! 2017 can still be your year! What goals are you recommitting yourself to today? Let us know in the comments, below. 

Printable: Stitched Wall Art with Allie Biddle

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Wall Art

When we think of spring, we dream of bright pastels, motivational messages and updating our home decor! So, we partnered up with one of our amazing instructors, Allie Biddle, to bring you this simple but sweet D.I.Y. wall art that is just as easy as paint-by-numbers, and will look great in any room!

Allie is a designer and artist out of Denton, Texas who crafts one-of-a-kind hand embroidered hoop art and stitched mixed-media designs. If you're interested in learning more about embroidery, Allie will be teaching a Intro to Hand Embroidery workshop as well as a Hand Embroidery: Floral Bouquet workshop this Saturday in the studio! 

The beauty of this design is that you can pair it with any color(s) that compliment your current decor — from primary colors to neutrals like cream and sand. Keeping with the springtime theme, we chose a few bright pastels and even mixed up the design by alternating stitches to create a fun color-blocked design (like the one above).

Scroll down to request a copy of your FREE printable design, and get to stitching!

PROJECT CRAFT TIME: 20 MINUTES

  • MATERIALS
  • 100 lb. Paper
  • size 8 needle
  • embroidery thread
  • frame (optional)
  • scissors

First, you will notice that there are several dots arranged around the main design. These will act as your guide for stitching the completed piece. To prevent tearing, you will want to pre-punch each hole with the needle before threading the embroidery floss through the paper. 

Next, you will want to choose a color pattern for your piece. This would look great with one bold color, or several complimentary colors. You can stick with the pre-punched holes, or even add in your own to create a customized version (like the one below). *PRO TIP: Allie recommends using DMC threads for brighter, more saturated colors!

Once you have decided on a plan, you can begin stitching your design. After you're finished, pop your artwork in any 8X10 frame by trimming down your design, or hang it as-is from your bulletin board with a DIY marbled thumb tack

Don't forget to tag us on Instagram @thepapercraftpantry with a photo of your finished work. We'd love to see how yours turned out!

Paper Craft Pantry Blog Wall Art Designs
Paper Craft Pantry Blog Wall Decor

Check Allie's upcoming workshop:

03.04.17 — Hand Embroidery: Floral Bouquets

Saturday, March 4th
3PM - 4:30 PM

$45.00

Learn how to hand stitch sweet bouquets of poppies, echinacea, and daisies during this hand embroidery class!

D.I.Y. Sundae Tote Bag

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Cupcake Tote Bag

We may still be in February, but it sure feels like summer with the warm weather we are currently experiencing (and enjoying) here in Austin! It has me day-dreaming about those perfect spring days, which usually means spending as much time as I can outside before spring turns into summer. And if any of you have experienced summers here in Texas, you know how intense it can get! So savoring any kind of weather perfection whenever I can get it is always top priority.

If you follow us on Instagram, you know our studio schedule has been pretty full, with seven workshops in the last week and a half, including our 2nd Annual Galentine's Extravaganza!

I'd honestly been having a hard time narrowing down a fun D.I.Y. to share with you guys, knowing that my bandwidth was pretty maxed out. Naturally, inspired by my love of sprinkles and a handful of supplies we already had on hand in the studio — I give you, our Sundae Funday Tote!

With a little imagination and a bit of paint, I transformed a plain canvas tote into a fun statement accessory. From a beach or pool-side bag, to a carry-all for your farmer's market finds... this sundae tote will likely bring a smile to anyone who has a love of sweets! If you haven't noticed, I (and our entire P+CP team) are sort of food driven — with desserts and sweet as our main weakness :)

Have a wonderful weekend y'all!

xo,
Pei

PROJECT CRAFT TIME: 20 MINUTES

DRY TIME: OVERNIGHT

Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Painted Tote Bag
  • MATERIALS
  • Canvas Tote
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Yarn + Pipe Cleaner (optional)

First, use an old paper grocery bag or any paper to slip inside the bag to separate the front and back of the bag. This will act as a surface for you to paint on and it won't allow the paint to seep through to the back of your bag!

Next, layer on your first color — you'll want to apply several coats to get an opaque effect.

Now, the fun part! Add on "sprinkles", use different colors and place them in different directions.

As an added little project to finish off your tote, we whipped up a little pom-pom cherry to put on top! (Our pom-pom key chain D.I.Y. can be found here)

Paper Craft Pantry Blog DIY Tote Bag

Recap: 2017 Galentine's Extravaganza

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog Girls Valentine's Day Party

Chelsea first brought up the idea to host a Galentine's workshop last year, and I was immediately (and obviously) 100% on board. Any excuse to gather a bunch of fun loving folks to work on crafty projects where we can go overboard with pinks, flowers, and sprinkles is always good in my book!  In the words of Leslie Knope, Galentine's is all about ladies celebrating ladies. And what's not to love about that? 

Our first Galentine's Extravaganza in 2016 was such a success we knew we had to take it up a notch or two for this year.

This year, we celebrated with flowers, self care, wine, chocolate and — of course cute cards! We had 4 D.I.Y. Stations set up for attendees to create different goodies to take home, there was 90's pop playing in the background all night, and we even surprised our guests with goody bags from some amazing local small businesses!

Keep your eyes peeled next year, because you can bet we'll be back for an even bigger Galentine's!

xo-Pei

The Paper + Craft Pantry Galentine's D.I.Y. 2017
D.I.Y. All Natural Bath Soaks
D.I.Y. Handmade Bath Soaks with Essential Oils
The Paper + Craft Pantry Flower Bouquets
The Paper + Craft Pantry Flowers and Florals
D.I.Y. Floral and Flower Bar
Paper Craft Pantry Galentine's Party Sponsored Goody Bags Partnerships

THESE AWESOME BRANDS SPONSORED OUR GALENTINE'S GOODY BAGS:
Slow North
Benjamin Soap Co.
Lunita Calligraphy

 

Want to learn how to become a sponsor? Contact us at hello@thepapercraftpantry.com

Small Business School: Client Crush

Maggie Miller


Paper Craft Pantry Small Business School Client Appreciation

February is the month of love! And while we often focus that energy on our partners, children, and loved ones, we’re encouraging you (all of you rad business owners out there) to take some time to consider what you're doing to extend that love to your current clients and customers.

Did you know that it costs at least 5x as much to gain a new customer than it does to retain an existing one?

As a small business owner, we are often so focused on gaining new customers, that once we start to build momentum and create a client roster, we don’t have a plan in place to ensure we are treating our repeat customers well. And the fact of the matter is, people buy from brands that they trust, and past customers are more likely to trust you since they’ve already worked with you, so they are that much more likely to buy from you again.

If you’re still hesitant about this idea, read this article by Forbes where they uncover how 80% of your future revenue is tied to a core group of 20% of your current customer base. Yeah… take a second to read that again. 80% of your future revenue is tied to 20% of your existing customer base!

So this year, instead of falling into a long-term relationship rut with your clients, it's important to find a way to bring that initial spark back. Here are our top 5 tips for keeping the flame alive:

1. Engage with your current followers versus spending time/effort/money on gaining new ones

So often with our social media and digital marketing efforts, we are concerned about our number of followers, or the number of subscribers on our email list. And while that is still important, your engagement rate matters more. Take the time to engage with your best customers. You can do this by genuinely responding to the comments they leave on your social media accounts and even making the effort to engage with the content they are producing. Follow them back on social media, or even find a recent blog post they’ve published on their site and leave a comment. These small acts of kindness go a long way, and when you spend this time engaging with them, it shows that you care about the person behind the brand, and a true relationship will begin to blossom.

  • TOOLS FOR KEEPING UP WITH YOUR BEST CLIENTS:
  • Use Iconosquare to create a feed of all your best customers on Instagram so that you have them concentrated all in one place. *Paid feature
  • Turn on Google alerts to be notified when anything new is published about your top clients/customers.
  • Use this Google Sheet to track your relationships with your top clients and potential collaborators

2. Exceed their expectations at every turn

Customer retention is built when clients trust you. You can build that trust by walking your talk and following through with everything you say you’re going to do. The best way to build trust is to effectively communicate and manage expectations. If you know you have a certain item on backorder — update your website ASAP. You don’t want people placing an order for an item, and then being told it’s going to take longer than expected. Whenever possible you want to under promise and over deliver, so build that into your production timeline and your client communications.

Consistently following through with what you say you’re going to do builds trust, which will eventually lead to customer loyalty. Once you have a loyal customer, they are the ones who will pound the pavement telling others about the great experience they’ve had with you, and it’s that elusive word-of-mouth marketing we are all after. What can you change in your process to build better trust, loyalty and advocacy with your clients?
 

3. Send your clients off in style

We are hired to deliver a service, and all too often once we complete what was stated in our contract, we send a final email with the final deliverables, and that’s it. But this is a really exciting time for your client. You’ve just delivered the photos they’ve been waiting for, or the brand new logo & website. At this point, they are ecstatic! What can you do to push them over the top with gratitude for you? This can be something as simple as a handwritten note with the final package, or sending the deliverables earlier than the timeline you quoted them. It can also be something really unique that is a great way to set yourself apart from all the others.

And don’t forget that just because they were a client of yours, they may not be on your email list. Ensure they are signed up so that they hear of any upcoming new services, products or discounts you may offer.

  • FUN IDEAS FOR ENDING YOUR CLIENT ENGAGEMENT:
  • Send them a unique gift that corresponds to the service you provided (monogrammed flash drive for their photos, or 10 Thank You cards with their logo that you tossed in with their business card order).
  • Pass on some of your knowledge. (You’ve got a new logo - now what? Send them an “Updating your Brand Identity Checklist”.)

4. Remember the details

Whether you are a product- or service-based business, whenever possible, gather important information from your clients. An easy way to track this is through dates. For product-based businesses, ask your customer to fill in their birthday whenever they make a purchase so that at the beginning of their birth month, you send them an discounted offer. For service-based businesses, remember when your client first signed with you. Maybe you have a special anniversary discount or offering when they hit the 1-year mark with you. And even if you aren’t in the place to offer a discount, a handwritten note will go a long way.

Whether for wholesale clients, retail customers, or your one-on-one client engagements, take the time after each interaction to write notes and keep track of the important details. Did one of your wholesale clients open their second location recently? Send them a note or small congratulatory gift. Do you have a loyal customer who placed a big order last year over the holidays? Prepare for that and send them a loyalty discount in preparation this year.

How can you incorporate this idea for your business? What would you like to take note of in your client’s life cycle with you, and how can you backtrack to gather that information?
 

5. Build a loyalty, referral or affiliate program

Finally, how are you making it easier for your current and past clients to refer you or shop from you again? If you’re a product-based business, what loyalty discount can you offer? Think of the traditional punch card: Buy 10 items and get the 11th free. If you’re a service-based business, consider what type of referral or affiliate program you can offer to people who have previously used your services.

If you’re doing everything mentioned above, then your clients are likely already going to want to shout your praises from the rooftops. But if you can add a sweet little cherry on top by giving them a small financial kickback or complimentary service for referring their friends, then it’s a win-win for both of you.

Tell us in the comments below — what are some of your favorite referral programs? After reading this, what ideas do you have for implementing some of these techniques into your business?


Maggie Miller, with MaggieGentry Thought Partner, Austin TexasAbout the author:
Maggie owns MaggieGentry , where she provides thought partnership & marketing strategy for creative entrepreneurs. She also hosts the Own Your Why workshops, and is the Creative Marketing Strategist for The Paper + Craft Pantry. You may find her ‘gramming over at @maggiegentry_, and if you’d like to learn more from her, she’s teaching a Marketing Workshop: How to Beat the Social Media Algorithms on February 19 in the studio.

D.I.Y. Valentine's Tumblers

Pei Sim


Hi guys! It's Pei here. It's always been a huge goal of mine to spend more time sharing some fun D.I.Y.s with The Paper + Craft Pantry Community! So moving forward, you'll be hearing from me more :) When I'm not here in the studio or working on P+CP things, I'm a huge D.I.Y./crafter and I can't wait to share more little projects with all of you!

To say it's been a little bit crazy in the studio would be an understatement — we hosted 15 workshops + events in the month of January! Who would've thought we would grow our community in just over a year to a point where we get to constantly fill out studio with incredible people?

I've been particularly excited about sharing this D.I.Y. because it also aligns with another one of my goals this year, which is to hydrate more. I've been known to go all day in the studio without a single drop of H2O and I know... shame on me. I'd only realize how dehydrated I was when I was driving home at the end of the day. And so far, this glitter water tumbler makes it easy and fun to stay hydrated!

PROJECT CRAFT TIME: 15 MINUTES

DRY TIME: OVERNIGHT

  • MATERIALS
  • Clear plastic photo tumbler
  • Glitter
  • Confetti
  • Clear Glue
  • Water
  • Glycerin

First, and perhaps the MOST fun part of this project, mix together your glitter and confetti! I chose to mix different shapes, sizes and textures! Be sure to use plastic confetti, as the tissue paper version will dissolve in the water and glycerin mixture.

Unscrew the bottom of your tumbler and fill about 2/3 of the way with your glitter and confetti mixture. *Pro-tip: I used a little bamboo skewer to shimmy the bigger pieces of confetti down the narrow wall of the tumbler!

Then, mix in a tablespoon of glycerin with 1 1/2 cups of water (it's okay if this ends up being more water than you need to fill your tumbler)

The very last step is to seal the base lid. Before screwing the lid on, apply a clear drying glue (or use a hot glue gun) around the edge of the lid. Twist to close and let dry overnight with the bottom lid facing up.

Current Crushes: 2017 Valentine's Day Gift Guide

Pei Sim


Paper Craft Pantry Blog 2017 Valentine's Day Gift Guide Austin Texas

We've been busy in our studio planning for Valentine's Day and we're beginning to feel the love! Any holiday that involves going a little overboard with pink and glitter is a holiday we love! Our shelves are stocked with the loveliest cards and sweet gifts, and our studio calendar is all set with fun Valentine's themed events!

Gift giving can be difficult, but we've got your back! We've rounded up our favorite 10 gifts in this guide of beautifully-crafted + independently-made goods that would make even the pickiest of gift-getters swoon (without breaking the bank). 

Single? No worries! This list is inclusive of all the special people in your life. We don't think there's anything wrong with surprising your best friend or favorite co-worker with a thoughtful Valentine's Day gift to remind them just how much they mean to you! 

Here's what we're currently crushing over:

1. "Cuddles" Candle ($16)

This candle by The Burlap Bag will have anyone and everyone dreaming of snuggling up with a fluffy blanket, still warm from the dryer.  Pair this with a bottle of wine and a movie for the perfect romantic or Netflix night in.

2. Love You Card ($5)

As a part of Curious Print's Modern Love collection, this bold, botanical design is the perfect proclamation of your love! Pair it with a gift certificate to the studio, good toward any of our workshops or retail purchase. 

3. Handmade Leather Business Card Holder ($32)

Know a small business owner who is networking 24/7? Help them tidy up their wallet with this minimalist, glittered card holder by AlloftheAbovely. Each wallet is made from vegetable-tanned leather and will hold 3 credit cards or a 1/4" stack of business cards. This wallet comes in three shades: silver, gold and natural leather.

4. Tickets to our Galentine's Extravaganza ($30)

Start your celebrations a little early by treating your gal pals to a fun evening of crafting, festive sips + treats, and — of course — 90s pop music! Crafts will include a D.I.Y bath scrub, and floral and painted card making stations. Grab your tickets here.

5. Donut + Cupcake Felt Decor ($8)

Show someone just how sweet they are with these adorable felt ornaments by It's So Fluffy. Hang them on the wall, style them alongside cookbooks, or throw one around the rear-view mirror.

6. Monthly Desk Calendar ($16) 

This hand illustrated tear-off agenda by Ginably is the perfect pop of color for any desk.
BONUS: This pad isn't dated, so it can be used year-to-year, for a total of 25 months! 

7. Vintage Rose Gold Scissors ($24)

You have a heart of gold! Show it off by gifting a pair of these vintage-inspired rose gold scissors. Just as much as they are functional, they make for a bold addition to any workspace or kitchen.

8. Floral Watercolor Art Print ($16)

Instead of a bouquet of roses, give your loved one flowers that will last a lifetime! This watercolor print by Leen Jean will fit in any 5x7" frame — perfect for dressing up a bookshelf or hanging in a home office. 

9. I Love You Ya Weirdo Card ($5)

Just because it's Valentine's doesn't mean you have to get sappy and overly sentimental! This card by the Detroit Card Co. is a refreshing alternative that is sure to get a chuckle out of anyone.

10. Little Bird Ceramic Dish ($25+)

This hand-stamped, hand-formed ceramic bird catch-all dish by Lemon Glaze is the perfect size to hold rings, paperclips, loose change, or even dress up the sink as a soap holder. This dish comes in various sizes and colors, so stop by the studio to pick out your favorite! 


 

Looking for additional gift ideas? Mark your calendar for our Valentine's Pop-Up Party on February 4th from 1PM  - 5PM. We'll have several local, female-owned small businesses in the studio slinging their wares. Check out the Facebook Event for a complete vendor line-up. Hope to see you there!