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

Austin's favorite stationery shop and workshop studio.

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

Small Business School: How To Host A Workshop

Grace McKinney


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:

LOCATION

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?

DEMAND +CONTENT

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?

PRICING

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 :)

MARKETING + PROMOTION

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.

LEARN- BE OKAY WITH AN UNCERTAIN OUTCOME AND LEARN FROM EACH EVENT!

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!

D.I.Y. Handmade Felt Throw Pillows

Grace McKinney


The Paper Craft Pantry: Spring Time Cactus Throw Pillows

Just as we were starting to think Spring was in the air, Texas decided to pull a fast one on us with this cold front! I don’t know about you guys, but we’re ready for some warmer days over here at the shop + studio!

This week’s D.I.Y. was inspired by our LOVE of all things plants and seems to be the perfect cozy day project to tackle. Using just a few materials and supplies (many of which you actually may already have lying around in your craft stash!) we whipped up the cutest little throw pillows that’ll bring Spring time inside, even if it’s frigid outside :)

CACTUS FELT THROW PILLOWS

D.I.Y. PROJECT TIME: 20-30 MINS

  • MATERIALS
  • Felt Fabric
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Sewing Machine (or needle and thread)
  • Cotton stuffing
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Felt cactus pillow supplies.

Cactus Felt Throw Pillow Instructions:

We wanted to create some large inviting cactus pillows which meant buying several yards of felt from our local craft and fabric store. We cut ours about 1.5ft wide and 2ft tall for each cactus pillow.

You want to measure, trace, and cut 2 pieces (one as the front and one as the back) of your desired cactus shapes. + make sure to trace the lines on the cactus to sew.

Next, lay both pieces on top of one another and sew around the entire outline of your cactus.

After that, flip your piece inside out and draw lines down the middle wherever you want your cactus grooves to shown.

Once you sew the lines you will have to individually stuff each “section”. We suggest using the eraser end of a pencil or a wood dowel/stick to help push the stuffing to the very top of the cactus.

After filling each section, leave just a LITTLE room at the end of your cactus to sew closed. Then you are done, it’s really that simple!

  • if you want to add felt flowers just cut several tear drop shaped petals and glue each end on top of the others. You can either hot glue the flower or pin it to the top of each cactus using a sewing pin.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Felt cactus pillow supplies.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Felt cactus pillow d.i.y. supplies for flowers.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Felt flowers for cactus pillow d.i.y.
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D.I.Y.: 2019 Word Of The Year Wall Charm

Pei Sim


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We’re still riding on that new year wave of inspiration and wanted to dream up a fun way to stay inspired through the year. So many of us pick a word of the year to focus on, and it’s something we think is so powerful. It’s a way for you to go back to that word to check in with yourself. In a world of so much information and so much to do, it’s really nice to have a physical reminder of how you intended to spend your year.

We created these simple yet beautiful wall charms to help you get creative and stay rooted in your word of the year. These also happen to make wonderful gift for friends, business partners and clients. There’s no better way to open up conversation than to chat about why they chose their word and it’s also an easy way to enroll someone as your accountability partner!

WORD OF THE YEAR WALL CHARM

D.I.Y. PROJECT TIME: 30 MINS (not including dry time)

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: All of the supplies needed for our D.I.Y.

Instructions:

We wanted to create a more organic feel so we opted to just roll out a ball of clay. You could also use metal cookie cutters to cut out specific shapes if you wanted.

We rolled the clay to about 1/4” thick in all directions for an organic shape before stamping our letters onto the surface. Using the wooden dowel, push gently through the top of the piece to create a hole for hanging.

Let dry 3-5 days (or as instructed on the air dry clay container).

Once dried, we added in some fun colors and abstract brush strokes to give each piece a little personality! Let dry before applying a coat of sealant. Add your choice of cord to hang!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Rolling out the clay.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Using our clay lettering stamps to create our words!
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Using a wood dowel to create hole for our leather thread.
The Paper + Create Pantry Blog: Our words for the year- ready to set out and dry.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Painting our dried clay pieces.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: The finished product, just add any thread you would like to hang them with.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Wall clay art charm.

Small Business School: How To Create A Product Line

Pei Sim


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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!!!

Round Up: Galentine's Girl Crushes- Our Favorite Small Businesses

Pei Sim


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Valentine’s is just around the corner, but if we’re being real here, we’re all about GALENTINE’S! Not like we need an excuse to celebrate our favorites and girl crushes, but we wanted to take the time to share about five of our favorite women in business. All of them own and run their small businesses with the talent and tenacity we hope we can someday achieve.

These may or may not be women you already follow or know, but y’all the world of small business ownership can be lonely and hard when you feel like you’re in it alone. And these wonderful women make this whole journey so fun and magical. Because even on the hard days, it’s inspiring to look to them and be reminded that it’s so worth it.


The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Miranda Anderson

MIRANDA ANDERSON

Who is she: Mastermind behind Live Free Creative, the Live Free Creative podcast and a D.I.Y. rock star

Follow her: @livefreemiranda + https://livefreecreative.co/

Why we love her:

We’re still sad Miranda moved away from Austin, but we’re so happy she visits us multiple times a year. She’s our Shibori Indigo queen instructor and one of our favorite creatives of all time. She launched her print shop where she shares her amazing photography from her travels and adventures. She also started her podcast and let’s just say, we look forward to the new episode each week on Thursdays!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Live Free Creative Co
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Live Free Creative Co Shibori Indigo products.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Noel Gary with Oh So Beautiful Paper

NOEL GARY

Who is she: Paper trend maven, editor and blogger at Oh So Beautiful paper

Follow her: @beautifulpaper + https://ohsobeautifulpaper.com/

Why we love her:

We met Noel IRL at the Stationery Show and both laughed about how it felt like we’ve known each other considering we’re Instagram friends :) She’s got the keenest eye on stationery and paper trends. Her feed is to die for- if you’re ever needing something to brighten your day, go take a scroll. She also opened up a event, photography and workshop community space in DC called The Common Room and you bet we’re hoping we can one day share some P+CP workshop magic in her space!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Oh So Beautiful Paper + Common Room
The Paper + Craft Paper Blog: Common Room + Oh So Beautiful Paper

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JULES HUNT

Who is she: Blogger and editor of Om And The City and the sun shiniest person you’ll ever meet

Follow her: @omandthecity + https://www.omandthecityblog.com/

Why we love her:

We first met Jules when she (and her now fiance and CUTE pup Luna) popped in our old 6th street studio. We immediately adored her energy and bonded over our love of plants. They were just visiting Austin but dropped some hints they would be moving to Austin soon- and boy are we glad they did. Jules radiates. Period- it’s hard to describe unless you’ve had a chance to meet her. She shares so much valuable information through her blog as well as her Instagram. In a sea of oversharing and bloggers pushing an agenda, we know that what Jules shares is truly what she believes in. We’re so proud of her new guide book to Simplify & Thrive and we think you’d love it too!

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The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Belle & Union creator and owner Meg!

MEG SUTTON

Who is she: Designer and owner at Belle & Union, owner of a brick + mortar, and a true southern belle

Follow her: @belleandunion + https://www.belleandunion.com/

Why we love her:

We’ve been CRUSHING on Meg and Belle & Union way before we even opened up our shop. And not to be cheesy about it, but we’re still swooning over how lucky we are to call her a friend (like we’re texting friends now!) Her attention to detail with her design, coupled with her letterpress technique makes Belle & Union stand out in a very full stationery world. Meg’s commitment to USA made and quality is something every small business should aspire to. Belle & Union also has a brick + mortar in San Antonio (anyone wanna road trip?) and y’all, it’s BEAUTIFUL. She also hosts some workshops and we’re particularly eyeing on one of her letterpress classes in the future!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Just one of Meg’s beautiful letterpressed cards.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Just a corner of the GORGEOUS Belle & Union’s shop!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Chelsea Ward from Sketchy Notions

CHELSEA WARD

Who is she: A stationery designer at Sketchy Notions, painter, artist and published author

Follow her: @sketchynotions + https://sketchynotions.com/

Why we love her:

Chelsea makes us wish that California was our neighboring state- that way we could see her all the time :) We met this talented gal via the world of social media and instantly fell in love with her art work (and her!) We finally got to meet in real life at last year’s National Stationery Show and meeting her in person just confirmed that she truly is just as warm and fun as the beautiful art and stationery she creates. She painted a new calendar for 2019 featuring Tiny Plant Ladies. And we just about had a heart attack when we saw a sneak peek that she was painting Pei as one of her Tiny Plant Ladies.

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Sketchy Notions desk scene.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Chelsea loves to sketch and watercolor all of her fellow plant loving friends!

D.I.Y.: Valentine's Secret Message

Pei Sim


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Who says kids should have all the fun with cute little valentine’s day notes? Surprise your friends and co-workers with the cutest little valentine’s mini prints that’ll leave them feeling loved and adored!

With a few simple supplies, you’ll be able to whip up your own secret messages for your friends to discover. Deliver them alongside a sweet treat or their favorite stationery for a handmade and fun touch this Valentine’s Day!

D.I.Y. VALENTINE’S HIDDEN MESSAGE

PROJECT TIME: 10 MINS

  • MATERIALS
  • Watercolor paper (cut down to 5x7)
  • Mini watercolor sets
  • White crayon
  • Twine
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: All of our supplies for making a secret message valentine!

After cutting down your paper to 5x7 (this makes it easy for them to slip it into a frame :) write your secret and hidden message using the white crayon. (after testing MANY white crayons, this one worked/showed up the best!)

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Using our white wax pencil to write our secret messages.

Put your paper into an envelope, tie it up with twine and include a mini watercolor set. We like to include a little note that tells them it’s a secret message inside and to use the watercolor paint to uncover it!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Putting our card into an envelope to gift.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Tying our mini watercolor pallets with some twine onto the envelope.
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: ALL of our finished Valentine hidden message cards.

Your recipient can use the mini watercolor set or their own painting supplies to uncover your secret message!

The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Now we are watercoloring the paper to reveal the message!
The Paper + Craft Pantry Blog: Our final products.

We shared this D.I.Y. in addition to a couple of other fun valentine’s on TV last week!

Watch our D.I.Y. segment on Studio 512 here!


Who will you be sending your valentines to this year?