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1023 Springdale Road, Building 6B
Austin, TX, 78721
United States

Austin's favorite stationery shop and workshop studio.


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

Filtering by Category: Small Business School

Small Business School: Balance

Pei Sim

The Paper + Craft Pantry Small Business Blog: How To Host A Workshop

The B word. The one we are all striving for and in search for. Balance.

The dictionary defines balance as an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady or a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions. Anything stand out with those definitions? Even distribution, elements are equal or in the correct portions… In my opinion, that sure seems pretty confining if everything is supposed to be even and equal 100% of the time to achieve balance.

Not only does it seem confining, it also seems insanely unattainable and a goal that is so out of reach it’s not even realistic. We’re all told our lives would be amazing and almost better if we figure out how the heck to balance out our life in every way. We’d be happier, wealthier, healthier etc. But most of the time I find that it just leaves us (me, anyway) extremely frustrated and defeated.

And when you throw small business into the mix of it all, things can just feel downright impossible especially if you’re yearning for that perfect balance.


Wearing many hats, for me it’s retail buyer, wholesale account manager, fulfillment, workshop and event planner + coordinator, merchandiser, studio manager, CEO, CFO, marketing director, art director, creative director, and even janitor (seriously!)...the list goes on. There’s simply too much that needs to be done for one person. Many businesses operate lean with just a one woman or one man show. Running a business lean has always been something I’ve strived for, the less frivolous expenses you have in business, the more profitable you are. It’s really that simple.

Trust me, I know everyone’s to-do list can literally be a mile long, but once you really look at that list, what on there is really important? It takes a lot to tell your pride and ego to let go, to only do what is essential. Only doing the things that are the utmost important and forgetting the rest. Being okay with things being undone. It takes a lot of courage to ask for grace from colleagues and fellow business owners when you turn down additional work or partnerships to honor only doing what’s essential to your life and business.

P.s. If you want to read more about essentialism, I really encourage you to read this book. It’s one of my all time favorites and I read it once a year.


If I’m going to be really honest here, I’ve put my business first in my life. Yup, it’s embarrassing to admit but I’ve put my business before my relationships, marriage, myself, and even my dogs on many occasions. I’m grateful that the people (and dogs) in my life understand my passion, but a big focus of mine in 2019 was to let the business work for me for a change.

Allowing myself to have days not physically at the shop and truly not working. Having actual weekends off for the first time in 6 years. Prioritizing to eat 3 actual meals a day. Seems ridiculous but I would opt to finish out an email or take a meeting instead of eat. I felt like if I wasn’t working hard all the time, I would be lazy and not deserving of success.

Small business is so personal, it intertwines with your life even outside of work. There’s no calling it a day after 5pm when you are literally your business. It’s a practice I have to remind myself of daily, to do less but with more intention. I really want to encourage you to do the same, let’s turn away from the glorification of busyness and lean into only doing what is essential to our daily happiness.

How to find YOUR balance:

Carve out time to sit down and evaluate what’s important for YOUR life. And then do the same for YOUR business. Make a list.

Now take that list, and only pick 3-5 things that are essential.

Things to consider: Ditch all the things you feel like you should do, simplify. There are so many things we feel like we should be doing- we should be exercising 5 days a week. We should be on all social media platforms for our business. I challenge you to pause, and only do what serves you and your business.Get down to the basics.  At the very core of your life and business, what is actually important to you?

It’s better to do a handful of things well vs. doing a bunch of things mediocre. Trust in the ebb and flow, of life and of business. If you allow things to flow, you’ll find a rhythm that resembles balance. But in a way that truly serves you in all areas of your life.

How do you find balance in your day? With your personal life? With your business? Tell us in the comments below.

Small Business School: How To Host A Workshop

Pei Sim

The Paper + Craft Pantry Small Business Blog: How To Host A Workshop

When we first dreamed up of The Paper + Craft Pantry, the intention was to become a destination stationery and paper shop in Austin, as well as the go-to spot for all things workshop. The business was always built with these two parts in mind.

I’ve personally always loved workshops, hosting them, teaching them and taking them- and I really felt like there was a lack of a space that suited the kind of experience I wanted to offer our community.

Workshops have now become very popular and dare I even say, a trendy thing for a lot of businesses to dabble in. I personally think it’s an amazing thing because there is now no shortage of ways people can get creative and learn! The only downside is there can be some oversaturation and also a potential discrepancy in quality that may skew someone’s mind on workshops.

A lot of people ask me all the time on how we host workshops. It’s something that I’ve learned and evolved with over the years- through trial and error (a lot of error). And I’m honestly still evolving and learning how to better serve our workshop community!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Watercolor floral workshop.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Watercolor floral workshop supplies.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Watercolor floral workshop instructor helping to show different stroke techniques.

Want to know what the top thing I wish I would have done differently in the beginning of hosting workshops (back in 2013!)?  

Properly valuing my time.

I grossly underestimated the amount of time it would take to prepare for a workshop, the amount of time it took to source out material, build a curriculum, find a location, time needed to create material for marketing…

A 2.5hr workshop ended up being over 12hrs (give or take) to pull off. That’s A LOT of time to value and translate into a ticket that a paying student will understand the investment for. When someone is paying for a workshop ticket, they often just account of the actual time they will be in the class and the materials. If I’m being really transparent, we do source very high quality materials- but the cost of the workshop materials is actually a very small portion of the total workshop ticket.

You can 100% go to your local craft supply store to pick up supplies + watch a youtube video to learn. But I truly believe that you get so much more when you get to experience it alongside others, and when you are being led and instructed by someone who is incredibly knowledgeable.

The bulk of the workshop ticket really goes towards the instructors time, years of hard work to be a pro at what they do, the time they are taking away from their own businesses/family to be here to teach. I stand very firmly on compensating our instructors (and myself when I’m teaching) and truly valuing their time.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Beginners hand lettering workshop. Learned different strokes.

Things to consider and questions to ask when hosting a workshop:


Where will you be hosting this class? How much is it going to cost you to rent the space? If the space is being provided to you at no cost- keep in mind that you may at some point have to allocate money for a space (which means you’d have to increase your workshop ticket) Does this place accomodate your needs? Does it have tables, chairs, a bathroom, parking, wifi or anything else you might need for your workshop?


What do you want to teach? If you aren’t the one teaching, what kind of classes does your community want? Have you had a lot of interest in a particular topic? Keep in mind that when you host a class on a specific day and a specific time, there are going to be people who say they want to go but can’t make that date.

Also take the time to do some research as to what else is out there, are there other studios or places offering what you want to offer? Is it something you can partner with them on? Or are you able to pivot and shift so you are not over saturating the market?


Calculate the cost of your ticket based off of every factor!

Cost of ticket = Cost of supplies/ Cost of time (before the workshop, during the workshop etc.)/ Overhead cost (location)/ Misc. costs (ticketing fees, snacks, drinks etc.)

You can still make a workshop ticket fee accessible and of value to a student while still being mindful of your actual costs!

*Another thing I feel is important to address is to price your ticket (and your business) competitively. Sure you can offer it at a cheaper option that what else is out there, but keep in mind you will be doing not only yourself a disservice, but you are also doing a disservice to other small businesses. I also really think it’s important to attract people because they align with your business, not just because you’re the cheaper option. Just some food for thought :)


People are visual beings- having clear visuals for your upcoming class and workshop can really help in getting people excited about your workshop or class! You want to give people enough time to plan ahead for your upcoming workshop yet want to be sure it’s not too far out that it gets lost in their busy schedules. Finding that “sweet” spot can be tricky and truly is something that each person needs to figure out on their own. I’ve seen fellow creatives who have massive followings and a loyal following who can sell out a workshop that’s listed many months in advance as well as some who have sold out a workshop in hours.


Not every class will sell out. You can host two of the exact same workshops where one sells out in a matter of minutes and the other is a struggle to fill. There are SO many variables when it comes to someone’s life and schedule it’s truly hard to predict or really know. You can make your best guess based on some trends or habits you might see, or even based off the season and what else is going on around your specific city or town- and trust me, you’ll still get those curve balls.

I personally love when classes are more intimate, it allows you to go above and beyond to create an incredible experience for your students. We’ve hosted classes with 4 students and classes with up to 50 students. They are both great in their own way! So don’t be discouraged if you try to host your first class and aren’t able to fill it.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: All of our favorite easy to care for house plants.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: House Plant 101 workshop.
The Paper + Craft Pantry blog: Intro to embroidery workshop.

If you read this post through the end, I hope you found value in what I shared. There really is no simple solution or formula to hosting a successful workshop (or event!) I hope these things will at the very least prompt you to consider some of the things I feel are important to consider when hosting a workshop!

Small Business School: How To Create A Product Line

Pei Sim


This has totally been a long overdue post! I’ve been wanting to share what I know with y’all and have been going back and forth about what I should share. One of my goals this year is to share more insightful topics on our Small Business School blog series so if you guys have any burning questions, please leave a comment at the bottom and let me know!

There’s so much that goes into creating a product line that would warrant a MUCH longer post and perhaps even multiple posts. I wanted to just give y’all a summary and things I’ve personally identified as the most important things to consider. Whether you are thinking about starting your own stationery line or perhaps just want to expand on your product offerings, these are 8 of the most important things to consider.

p.s. be sure to read all the way to the bottom to get a little insider scoop to something new happening soon ;)

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: An ink sketch of our shop exterior which turned into a postcard!
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Sketch to final product of another weekly notepad.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: The 3 stages of our weekly calendar.

Identify what product or product range you want to offer.

Specifically for a stationery or paper line, I feel like product variety is important. It’s something I look for when deciding to add a new stationery line to our shop. Having some diversity is easier as a buyer to purchase a group of product that will also merchandise really well together.

When deciding on product for the P+CP line, I wanted to hone in on products to fill the gaps. There are a lot of great paper businesses out there with great product, however, there were still product gaps in what I felt I wanted in the shop. I also wanted to have this new product line be cohesive and easy for paper lovers to gravitate towards multiple items.

I also did a poll via social media to ask our community what they wanted. Simple questions like asking if they’d prefer a notepad that was lined or blank was incredibly helpful!

Trust your gut with the design + creative process.

There are no shortage of ideas that are floating around my head. And I want to turn them all into tangible goods- but that’s not realistic because producing product takes an upfront investment.

I knew I wanted our P+CP mint color to be present throughout our designs and our line, even as it evolves. I also wanted to have designs that were “timeless”. Trends are a real part of life and design, but I wanted to stay true to what felt in alignment with our business and brand regardless of if it was cool or not. An example would be suddenly incorporating the Pantone Color of the Year into everything even if it doesn’t fit our brand.

Functionality and simplicity was another thing I focused on. I also ask myself every time I design or want to release a new product “Would I use this?”.

I probably have twice as many designs that were weeded out slowly before deciding on our current line!

Be resourceful-Google will be your bestfriend.

I did most of my test printing at home and did a TON of googling. I already had some sources from before the P+CP existed and I was working on my own line full time. I visited several local print shops to get quotes from them.

There is no one “size” fits all for any business. What works for someone may not work for you and vice versa. It’s up to you to explore and do some research.

This might be something that’s only true for me, but even though I have a lot of friends in the industry- I don’t usually ask them for their printers or sources. Mostly because I see it as asking someone to give me all their research and hard work for nothing. It takes months, sometimes even years for people to find the right printer/manufacturer and it seems like a big ask to have someone just hand that to me for nothing.

I equate it to going into your favorite restaurant and asking the chef for their recipe.

*p.s. this was one of the most asked questions when we opened up questions about producing a product on our Instagram community!

Always get a sample and proof!

I always order samples and pay for proofs. It sometimes costs a little more but it’s worth it to know you’re not going to end up with a giant box of product with a slight imperfection or a missed crop line.

This actually happened to me during the production of our line last year. I ordered a proof and yet, still somehow missed that I did not remove the crop lines off one of our notepads. It was 100% on me for missing that and now we have a big box of notepads we use for scrap paper because there’s just the tiniest lines down each side. It’s barely noticeable but as someone who really stands for quality of paper (and business in general) these will never be sold! It definitely stung both in my bank account and I had to take a moment to realize I’m human too and mistakes will happen!

Calculate the cost of each item and then factor in the total cost.

A lot of times, the larger your quantity is the lower you’re going to be able to get the cost per item. That means higher profit margins! But if you are just starting out, I really think doing as much printing (by investing in a good and solid printer) can help you from just having way too much inventory on hand of just one thing.

If you are trying out a ton of designs, you will be able to do that without high minimums when you print yourself. If you want to outsource printing and production, you may have to streamline and only produce a few things at a time because of costs.

Minimums can range from the hundreds to thousands! So even if you can get an item at a low cost per item (example $4) having to order hundreds or thousands of that means you’d have to pay all of that upfront!

A big thing to consider and NEVER forget is to include the TOTAL cost of each item into what you price it at. Take into account the cost you pay for shipping for the product to be sent to you (if you are outsourcing your production), cost for packaging (yes even the cute little labels and stickers on your product) and even the cost of you designing the product/packaging design!

Price for wholesale and price competitively.

When pricing your product, always price for wholesale pricing even if you are not planning on wholesaling right now (or ever!) For example: If you plan on retailing a greeting card at $5. You will probably be wholesaling it at $2.50. So to make a profit, the total cost of that card should be at or less than $1.25.

I also think it’s really important to price whatever it is you’re making competitively. In my opinion, I want people to pick up our product because they like it vs. choosing it because it’s a cheaper option.

Get comfortable with vulnerability and be open to feedback.

Putting your art, design and work out into the world is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. You’ll question if people like what you are doing. You’ll question if you’re good enough. You’ll also probably start comparing yourself to others.

That’s NORMAL.

A huge thing is knowing that the people who will resonate with what you’ve created will LOVE it, and knowing that you’re not going to be for everyone and that’s okay too!

Once you create your product(s), it’s important to get feedback and be open to hearing what people have to say about your work. Get your product out in front of people at local events and listen to what people say when they see or touch your product. There’s no better way to test the market and see what designs or product resonates with your audience than for you to do that.

Start small.

Last but not least, perhaps the most important thing is to start small. Start with a small range of offerings, with a few designs. Print from home to keep your cost down and to keep from ending up with thousands of the same notepad stored in your closet! You’ll be able to offer diverse offering while being able to test out various designs and products. Invest in local markets and shows to test your products- make tweaks after feedback and be open to evolving.

The original product line I started with in 2013 is vastly different than what I am doing now :)

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Product inspiration board.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Zoomed in on a little corner of our inspiration board.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Zoomed in on a little corner of our inspiration board.

I’m already working on a few follow up posts from additional questions you all had for this topic like:

  • What questions do you need to ask printers/manufacturers?

  • Do you need a lot of followers before you launch? Are countdowns good a good idea?

Have any other Small Business related topics you’d like for me to share on our blog? Let me know below :)

Alright, here’s the inside scoop and you’re hearing it FIRST!

We’re going to be releasing NEW product in a few weeks. Like even more stationery and paper goodness. So get excited!!!

Small Business School: 7 Ways To Stay Productive

Pei Sim

Paper + Craft Pantry 2019 Small Business Blog: 7 ways to stay and be productive this year

Happy new year friends!

A new year brings a fresh start and there’s something just magical about it don’t you think? Over the past few years, I’ve been working on finding ways to improve the flow of my days and work weeks and I just couldn’t pass up a chance to share with you guys. It’s easy to feel motivated and feel that new year “high” but these 7 tips have helped me stay productive and motivated not only for the new year, but for the remaining 11 months of the year.

I’d love to hear what y’all think, and if you have any tips share them in the comments below :)

7 Ways to Stay Productive

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Getting your favorite supplies ready are the best motivator to start planning.

1. Write it down

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you feel like you have too much to do or when you don’t know where to begin. I try to start my week out by writing down EVERYTHING I need to get done during that week. I’ll look over my schedule and give every task on that large list a specific day so it spaces things out and breaks things up.

I also am a big stickler to picking 5 things. Actually only picking 5 single things on my list to tackle each day where I’m not allowed to work on anything else on the list besides those 5 first. This really lets me prioritize what’s really urgent or important. It’s something I encourage our studio assistants to do when they come into work for the day- that way they can stay focused and flow into how the day goes at the shop.

2. Take a break

When you’re feeling distracted, instead of forcing the work- lean into the flow and take a break. I really think it may seem counterintuitive to stop working when you’re busy or feel like there’s a lot to do but taking a short break- even if it’s just 10 mins can really help you reset and refocus. I’m a fan of of going outside for some fresh air, a quick walk around the block or to check the mail, sometimes I’ll even use it as an opportunity to grab a glass of water to rehydrate or even sit up against the wall to do legs up the wall.

3. Eliminate unnecessary meetings

What I’m about to say may upset some people… but I really feel like meetings are a waste of time. At least they can be. I do understand the importance of a meeting and know that from time to time it’s important- but filling your days with meetings can actually be a waste of time as you have to constantly switch gears between meetings that takes up valuable time in your day vs. just getting things done! I try to only schedule a handful of meetings a week- and only when they’re necessary! And when I do have a meeting, I have a really clear agenda to move through so it’s actually a meaningful time spent.

4. Set a timer, put your phone away

I actually do this regularly- I set a timer for 30 mins- an hour or even two hours and leave my phone out of sight. That way I can really dive into what I need to work on and focus on it- I know that when my phone alarm goes off, time’s up!

5. Find an accountability partner

Tell a friend what you are working on- someone who can check in with you. I really believe in sharing what you are working on with someone you work with, or someone who can hold you to what you say you’re going to do. Someone who asks you how your project is going- and I think the simple act of declaring what you are doing outloud allows you to hold yourself accountable.

6. Clear your desk

I am so guilty of this, when I feel like there’s a lot going on in my life or on my plate it tends to reflect the state of my desk in the office. Aka, it’s like a tornado blew through my office when I have a ton going on. To start each day, I take a few minutes to go through what’s on my desk so I can literally make space for myself and my work. Clear desk, clear mind!

7. Set aside times for emails

Don’t check your email every 5 minutes. Set aside a few times a day to check and respond to emails. I know a lot of people who block their emails into chunks based on the time of the day- that way you’re not spending a few minutes here and there to go through your inbox but can dedicate a solid part of your day to it and dedicate the rest of the time to work!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Setting up our desk to plan on our computer and favorite notebook.

Have any productivity tips you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!


Small Business School: 2018 Year In Review

Pei Sim

The Paper + Craft Pantry: A Year In Review

And just like that, another year has come and gone! I know everyone always says how fast time goes by but I swear 2018 came and went in a blink of an eye- don’t you agree?

We celebrated SO much this year- I feel like as a small business, specifically a brick + mortar shop, we finally found our stride in 2018. We moved from our original space into the space I had only ever dreamed about. I’ve told so many of you (in real life) how our new space was the space I had always wanted- but it didn’t exist back when I was looking for a space back in 2014. It did take me almost a full year to find our original E 6th location. And I’m trusting more and more that there was a reason that was the place I was meant to be in as I got The Paper + Craft Pantry started. Our old space allowed me to really play, navigate and learn all about the business and it really allowed me to grow it where when the time came to move, it was a natural and rather seamless transition.

I’ve shared a year in review for the past few years- you can peek more at 2017 and 2016 ! It’s really fun to go back through the archives and read the words I had typed to document our years in business. I’m proud of the growth not only as a business, but also personally.

2018 was a year of growth. A big year of growth all around for The Paper + Craft Pantry- I’ve learned a lot and if you’ve been following along, you’ve seen and been a part of it all :) Here are the big 5 things that happened in business for us this year.

Making a Financial Mindset Shift

Y’all, this was the first FULL year I paid myself every. single. month. It may not seem like a big deal but it’s huge considering I was only taking out what I needed for bills etc for the past 5 years. But this year, I was able to allow the business to support me month to month. The business has also been able to continue to pay our lovely and hardworking studio assistants- which in turn has allowed me to pursue other opportunities for The Paper + Craft Pantry.

I allocated funds strategically this year- anticipating for inventory purchases, for marketing and event expenses, and even for our move this summer.

I really believe that I finally got comfortable and acquainted with the business’s finances even though for a long time I told myself I was not good at it. This book really made a huge impact for me and if you’re interested in getting more familiar with your finances, particularly your business’s finances, I highly recommend it!

2018 was a good year because I was able to release a lot of stress in relation to money and was able to come from a place of abundance.

Saying No more

I’ve learned how to graciously say no. I don’t think it will ever be “easy” for me, but I’m getting better at setting boundaries. I have declined meetings, sponsorship opportunities, media opportunities, partnerships for a variety of reasons. But I know my limits. I know the limits of my business and I’m okay with giving myself (and the business) space. I no longer feel the need to fill every day with a meeting, or an event or anything that isn’t a 100000% yes.

Hiring + Growing a Team

Growing pains y’all. The more we grow as a business, the more I’m realizing I need support. I needed to create space in the business to allow for more help in running the day-to-day. It’s been difficult, personally, to allow the right people to step into the business as well as a huge learning curve to identify the right people and have them in the right roles so they can flourish.

I’m someone who likes to take my time, I don’t like feeling rushed to find the right people. I also feel like it’s so important for it to be a right fit on both sides. To me, every one who works at our shop is an extension of our business, a representation of what our business stands for. I also know the importance of a first impression with a guest who comes into our shop- I don’t think it should matter if I’m the one there, or a new studio assistant, the experience should be the same.

This was a year of filling out the people side of the business, getting systems into place so we can grow our tiny but mighty team, and learning how to onboard as quickly as we transition through our team members. Because in full transparency, turnover is very real in part-time retail!

Elevating Experience

From the moment someone walks through outdoors, my single wish is that they know they are welcomed. They’re greeted by our signature shop scent (now available in a diffuser oil blend!) even before they are warmly greeted by myself or our studio assistant. They’re able to browse our shop at their own pace as they discover new stationery treasures at each turn.

The same goes for our workshops, thought goes into everything- down to the last and seemingly minute detail. I know that our guests and workshop students can take their business (and money) elsewhere but the fact that they choose to do so with us, means the world and I want it to be evident for the entire time they are in our shop + studio.

We’ve been brainstorming, dreaming and planning how to continue to deliver the most top-notch experience. To continue to surprise and delight every single person who comes in!

New Product Launch

It’s been a long time coming (literally, I said I wanted to do this right after we opened in 2015) but opening a physical store was a lot more work than I ever could have anticipated. I run the retail shop as it’s own entity and the workshop side of the business as it’s own. So it’s very much felt like I’ve been growing and building on two separate businesses for the past few years!

You can read more about our product launch here and you can now shop our entire collection online!

Putting your work out there can be really difficult and I almost forgot what it felt like- for all the stationers and designers who reach out and the ones we work with. They constantly put themselves out there with their work not knowing what the response could be. And let me tell you, that’s some scary stuff! But none the less, they push through the fear and just continue to create. And that’s so freaking admirable in my opinion!

The response over the past few weeks since our launch has been nothing short of warm and just incredible. I am so thrilled to be able to share even more paper with y’all in our shop as well as send some P+CP goodies out in the world.


2018 was a year of:

  • getting comfortable with the financial side of the business- which enabled me to come from a place of abundance and to focus seriously on growing our business as a whole

  • saying no more to keep space open for myself and the business. Something that I

    plan on continuing into 2019

  • growing our small but mighty team with intention

  • elevating our guest experience in store and online

  • launching our new product line

See you all in 2019 :)

xo, Pei

Small Business School: An Interview With a 12yr Old Entrepreneur

Pei Sim

Small Business School Blog Post: An interview with a 12yr old entrepreneur.

Earlier in the year (in January), I received an email that caught my attention. As you can imagine, my inbox is rather full and I would normally have assumed this particular email was spam. But boy am I glad I clicked on it!

The email was from a 6th grader who had written an incredibly concise email about how she was interested in doing her apprenticeship (a requirement for her school for credit) at The Paper + Craft Pantry. The email was extremely well worded and she even ended the email asking if we could schedule a phone call to discuss further. My first instinct was to say no, because honestly,taking on an intern, especially a 12 year old one sounded like a ton of work.

But I agreed to a phone call with her because I was interested to learn more about if it would be a right fit for both of us. The day before our scheduled call, I received an email from Kate (the 6th grader in the email) to confirm our call the next day. I mean, what kind of 12 year old does this?

Our phone call went wonderful and I asked Kate to put together an email as well as send me a reference before I would decide if the next step would be an in person meeting.

Fast forward to our in-person interview, Kate walked in and shook my hand with the confidence that I wish most adults (even myself) would have. I was immediately blown away by how well she carried herself and how professional she was. Kate proceeded to inform me during our conversation that she had first dabbled in small business ownership in the fourth grade at her school’s children’s fair.

Needless to say, I decided that taking Kate on would be a great decision for both myself and The Paper + Craft Pantry! Kate spent over a month with us assisting with workshops, helping with marketing efforts, and really anything else we needed support on. And before it was time for her to graduate 6th grade, I sat down with Kate to ask her some questions about her experience working at The Paper + Craft Pantry.

Who are you AND what do you do? My name is Kate Metteauer, and I am a 6th grader at Acton Academy West.

Tell me about your school! My school is centered around the Hero’s Journey and learning at your own pace. I know it sounds crazy, it’s the most amazing school ever. We learn about entrepreneurship and learn the basics of running a business. I don’t have any homework, but what I don’t finish at school I do at home. Everything is done on the computer and we are on a year round schedule.  It’s small, only around 45 total students, in the ENTIRE school, and only 12 in Middle School. There are a lot of Acton Academies, in the U.S, but also in the world.

The Paper + Craft Pantry: 12yr old entrepreneur typing on her computer for another shop project.

Tell me a bit about how you started your business! When I was nine (which really wasn’t that long ago), I was surprised to get a sewing machine for my birthday. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but I now appreciate it  and have realized it was the best gift I have ever gotten. Soon after I learned to sew, I started my first business. I sold mostly bags and scarves that I had sewn. I had very little inventory, and a booth at The Acton Children’s Business Fair, but I loved it. After about two years of sewing, I realized that my products weren’t selling because I was trying to sell $40 bags to seven year olds and my materials were too expensive to sell things for any less. If I wanted to sell bags and scarves it would need to be for a different audience, so I completely switched gears and started making soap.

How has it evolved? I've gained a lot of knowledge about talking to customers, how to lay out my products at fairs, and how to better make products. I even started funding it myself, instead of asking for money from other people (aka my parents).

What has been your biggest lesson in running a business? I have learned that it’s okay to try something different while also becoming better at managing my time so that I can make more inventory to sell more at each fair. I like trying new things and want to experiment more with different soap recipes, packaging, and so much more! 

While apprenticing at The Paper + Craft Pantry, what was your biggest learning or takeaway?      I have learned so much while apprenticing at The Paper + Craft Pantry, but my biggest takeaway has been that it takes time to start a business, and you have to be very flexible with everything going on around you, and you have to take it slow in the beginning to build up from there.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: 12yr entrepreneur taking notes and typing up her daily shop work.

What were your tasks and responsibilities while apprenticing? Did you get to lead any projects?  I got to restock the cards in the shop, help prep for activities, and clean up after workshops. Although my favorite thing I got to do was probably help people paint pots and make bath salts at some of the events. I loved talking to everyone and guiding them through the process of making something.

What has been something you learned that you really enjoyed? I really enjoyed just being in the studio and seeing what people will create during the classes and at events.

What was something you learned that you didn’t expect? I didn’t expect anything honestly, and with that there were so many amazing surprises around every corner. The biggest was how many classes Pei organizes and hosts every week, and the amount of people that come to those events. Everything has been a learning experience for me, which has been amazing.

What is one thing you’ve learned at the Paper + Craft Pantry that you think has made the biggest impact on your journey as a small business owner? At my school we believe that every student is on their own Hero’s Journey. A Hero’s Journey is the basis for almost every book and movie. Everyone is on there own one and will have many of them throughout their lifetime. This apprenticeship has taught me SO many things, starting from restocking shelves to collaborating with other business owners! Through the lessons that I have learned and the welcoming nature of the Paper + Craft Pantry, this experience has greatly impacted me on MY OWN Hero’s Journey providing me with lessons I will use and cherish throughout my life.

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs - Ones who are afraid to get started. What about ones who can’t decide what to do? Take the time to figure out what really makes you happy, and go for it. It’s okay to start small and work your way up from there. Anyone can start a business, you just have to believe in yourself, your work, and your ideas. At my second business fair a tried to sell way way too many things at one time and it ended badly. Instead of giving up I tried something different and used the lessons I learned to make it better than it was before. Don’t be afraid to at least try, even if you fail you can always try again, and this time with more knowledge and experience to do better.

Feeling inspired, and ready to work?! Just start where you with what you have, and go for it! Have any questions? Leave them in the comments down below.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Apprenticeship x Acton Academy, Austin TexasAbout the co-author:

Kate is currently a 6th grader at the Acton Academy in Austin. Kate completed a 2 month apprenticeship as a part of her school credit where she learned the ins and outs of small business ownership with The Paper + Craft Pantry. She also is the co-author and editor of this blog post. Kate is a fellow small business owner who owns a soap company called Ridiculously Clean