Describe your company.
CS: Sugar Paper is a social stationery company that specializes in high quality, letterpress printing. We design and print all of our products in-house and take great pride in the quality of our work. We have two retail stores in Los Angeles, an e-commerce website, and sell our wholesale line worldwide.
Why did you decide to go into business together as partners?
CS: Jamie and I have a great friendship and business partnership. We’re very similar and yet very different people. We started Sugar Paper right out of college when we were young and brave and – very luckily – it has worked out well. Our business partnership has evolved over time and we remain great friends. We did not start out intending to create an enterprise – we just simply began working together. Once Sugar Paper started to gain speed we signed a very simple contract and rolled up our sleeves and got to work.
Are your products available to purchase wholesale?
CS: Yes! We just launched our wholesale line at NSS ’12. We had always sold our products in our own stores, but last May was the official start to allowing other stores to carry our line. We had a very successful show and we’re are buried in orders – which we know is a great problem to have. The Sugar Paper team is very small so we’re having to grow very rapidly. Right now we’re in discussions to partner with some big companies to design exclusive products. It’s all very exciting.
Do you attend the Stationery Show? Why or why not?
CS: Yes, yes, yes. The stationery show is paper magic. Sugar Paper began after my first visit to NSS is 2002. I walked the aisles mesmerized… and so inspired. It’s incredible to see small artists (and big companies too) showing their lines. Snow & Graham was our very first paper crush – and following Ebony Snow‘s career has been such an inspiration for us. She’s now a friend – and so forthcoming with business advice. We feel lucky to have mentors like her.
How do you gain interest from the press? Did you hire a PR firm?
CS: We do all of our own press. It’s important to have those relationships. We work closely with the girls at Martha, Lucky, Real Simple, etc. It’s amazing how it all works. More often than not we’re approached to submit for a specific story and they give us specific guidelines (color, theme, etc). Our very first press mention was motivated by Reese Witherspoon and for that we are forever grateful. She had some pieces printed and had them photographed for a feature they did on her in InStyle. That story put Sugar Paper on the map.
What is the value of press as a retailer?
CS: Press is valuable, but it doesn’t pay the bills. It’s gives your brand credibility, but ultimately it’s your work that determines the success or failure of your brand. The product has to be good, customer service is critical, and follow-through is key.
What business tasks consume the majority of your time?
CS: Sadly, most of our time is spent responding to needs… the needs of our clients, the needs of our staff, the needs of our vendors, etc. When I romanticized what this would look like years ago I imagined that I would design all day and drink coffee with my best friend. That is *so* not the case. We are BUSY. Design happens late at night. Administrative work takes up most of our week.
What creative tasks consume the majority of your time?
CS: We art direct a lot, which is really great. We have design meetings where we develop concepts that we then tweak and tweak until we like what we see. We’re firm believers in the editing process. We co-design most of what we create and we always ask for criticism first. Edit, edit, edit. It’s the key to great work.
What is your biggest challenge as a retailer?
CS: Truthfully? The hours. We are open 7 days a week (by contract) at our Brentwood Country Mart location. It’s hard to never have your business close. We’re “on call” every day. Unlike a private studio, anyone can walk in at any time on any day.