Photographed by: Katie Jameson | Interview of: Pei Sim, owner of The Paper + Craft Pantry
How did you get started?
I have always loved, and I mean LOVED, all things paper. I started doodling and creating really simple designs at my last "corporate" job and taught myself the very basics of formatting and designing. I turned these little doodles into stationery and started exploring the creative craft world! Getting to know other small business owners in various stages of their business journey has been the most rewarding and fun part. These fellow small business owners have become some of the best mentors, inspiration, and most importantly, folks that I now call friends.
My vision for the Paper + Craft Pantry was a place for creativity, collaboration and of course, paper. I wanted to curate the very best stationers and paper goodies as well as a calendar full of incredible workshops and events. The "pantry" part comes from my personal love of being in the kitchen, and to me, a pantry is always stocked with your favorites and the best ingredients.
That's what I refer back to any time I choose to purchase for the shop or to cohost a workshop and event, curating the very best.
How do you balance you personal time + work?/ How do you create separation?
Some days I'm better at it than others! Balancing personal time + work is hard. Period.
I have to continually remind myself the importance of taking the hat of a business owner of and give myself time to just be. I love my business and what I do, but a huge priority for me when deciding to open this business was to carve out a space for me outside of The Paper + Craft Pantry. Yes, this business is a huge part of who I am, but it doesn't define me. I think reminding myself of that, sometimes daily, keeps things in perspective and honestly takes some of the pressures of owning a small business off.
For me, finding time to enjoy a cup of coffee without talking about work or even carving out time for yoga in the morning makes me more present when I'm physically in the studio. Learning to leave my computer at the studio so I can be present when I'm home is also another thing I've been doing more of lately.
What influences you? / Where do you get your inspiration?
I'm inspired by my community. Community to me not only means the people who come in to pick up some stationery or folks who come take a workshop. Community also includes all of the talented designers and instructors I work with here in the studio. Every decision I make is intentional and I believe in the integrity of cultivating genuine relationships with everyone who walks through this mint door.
What keeps you motivated?/ Why do you love doing this?
There are random moments during the day and week where I take a few moments to step back from the business and make myself take it all in. It's still surreal at times that the studio and shop is actually mine. It's been something I've been working so hard for and even though I'm here almost every day, I never want to take any of it for granted. I like the quiet times in the mornings before the studio is open where I can spend time re-merchandising all the beautiful goods in the shop. It's fun to see things with a fresh perspective and gets me re-inspired all over again!
The best part about the retail shop side of this space is having guests in the shop gush over new designs and I love being able to share more about the designers behind the products they love. My favorite reminder of why I do what I do is when folks think of The Paper + Craft Pantry as the place to pick up a sweet card for someone in their lives. It means the world that in lieu of convenience, folks want to venture out to the East Side to spend time perusing our little shop!
Our workshop studio is the other half to the Paper + Craft Pantry. It means just as much to me as the retail shop and a huge part of that comes from the fact that I get to work with independent makers who work with different mediums outside of paper. These instructors are crazy talented and their passion shines when they are able to share their knowledge with the community here. I love seeing the transformation from the beginning of the workshop to the end where instructors feel empowered and elevated after sharing their talent with their students. I also love seeing folks in the community learning a new skill and being able to connect with the instructor and learn more about the instructor's business.
Where do you see yourself in 2-5 years? / What’s next for your brand?
In 2-5 years, I see the Paper + Craft Pantry as the spot in Austin for all things paper and workshops. We continue to curate both our retail shop and workshop calendar intentionally where creatives can come together and grow. We grow our family of designers and instructors so we can continue to share them with the community.