It’s rare to run into or encounter a kindred spirit nowadays, but when I meet Pei of P.S. Paper Shoppe 2 years ago in Houston during one of the Pop Shop America Shows, I could say that I knew we would become pals. It wasn’t until Pei moved from Houston to Austin that our friendship truly blossomed and I’m proud to call her a close friend. That is why I’m so honored to write a blog post about Pei’s dream of opening her own shop and workspace Paper + Craft Pantry. She has actually turned into a reality. Without further ado, here are the interview questions and answers in all their glory!
Q: For those readers that don’t know you personally… you were originally a dance major and lived in Houston. When and what made start your own stationery business while living there? Was it a dream that you always had in the back of your mind?
A: I have always been a paper lover and have always appreciated really great, quality and unique stationery. It started out as silly little doodles on post-it notes that I decided to turn into stationery. I could share them with friends and family. It was a huge learning curve since I am a self-proclaimed “analog” kinda gal. With a lot of trial and error, I taught myself the basics of Illustrator and In-Design so I could turn my little doodles into paper goods that I could share with others.
If you would have asked me a few years ago if I thought I would ever be a small business owner, I would probably laugh and say you were crazy! All I knew from the beginning was that I loved designing and creating things that would be be accessible to everyone.
Q: You later decided to “take the plunge” and move from Houston to Austin. What made you decide to make that change? Was it business related?
A: I definitely consider Texas my home, after having lived here for over 16 years, but I have enjoyed traveling between Texas cities. Houston was home for a while because it was where my family lived when we moved to Texas. But I spent many weekends in Austin. I’ve always loved Austin and the creative community here, so when I was debating a change of scenery, it was a no brainer!
Q: About how long after moving to Austin did you decide to open your own stationery/workshop. Is this a dream that you’ve had for some time now? How did the idea start and develop?
A: Earlier this year I spent a lot of time thinking about what direction I wanted my small business to grow in. After realizing that my passion and love of my business was primarily directed to the other small businesses I had gotten to know through the years. I absolutely loved seeing other small business owners grow, gain momentum, and flourish. I wanted to create a space that would be inclusive and supportive!
Q: Tell us about your shop Paper + Craft Pantry. I know your space is one part local paper shop & one part collaborative workshop which is a unique idea.
A: The Paper + Craft Pantry came from combining two of my favorite things! I wanted to be committed to showcasing stationery from independently owned businesses from all over the United States and beyond while also having a space where local small business owners could come share their talent with the community.
Q: What types of crafty and fun workshops do you have planned for Austin?
A: My goal for the workshop calendar is to be sure to offer a variety of workshops so that anyone wanting to learn or create would be able to find one that excited them. From the more DIY and crafty workshops like calligraphy or stitching, we also have workshops for small business owners that would empower them to grow their businesses.
Q: What are some of the difficulties that you’ve faced while taking on this huge venture to open your own business? What are some of they joys that you have also encountered along the way?
A: It’s hard. Plain and simple! Behind the social media photos, are long hours and to be honest, some tears. I believe so much in this business and in what I am trying to create here in Austin that it can be extremely overwhelming when things don’t go exactly according to plan.
Owning a small business seems like fun, where you get to work form home and have a flexible schedule etc. But I don’t think enough small business owners get credit for all that they do! True, most of us don’t work a 9-5 job, because most of our workdays are probably 12-18 hr days. Yes, we have a flexible schedule but it means that we work through most weekends and don’t have a day “off”.
When it comes down to it, I think it is a matter of how bad you want it and how hard you are willing to work. The best part of all of this is the folks I have met along the way. The go-getters, the movers and shakers in this amazing town I call home, who have rallied behind me. The ones who brighten my day by simply believing in me. The ones who believe in my goals with The Paper + Craft Pantry. And also to the fellow small businesses who want to be a part of what I am creating!
Q: For people who are reading this and are trying to pursue their own business ventures and dreams, what’s some good advice that you could give to them? What are some words of wisdom that have helped you out along the way?
A: Find something you love, something that you are willing to give 110% every. single. day.
You’ll have good days and bad days, good events and bad events, the most important thing is taking something positive from every experience you encounter. Also, finding time for yourself, even if it is just for fifteen minutes a day!
Paper + Craft Pantry opens Friday November 13th at 2511 E 6th St. Building 4 Unit A, Austin, TX 78702