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Pssst...Want a Sneak Peek Behind The Scenes?

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April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle started this fun little blog experiment, which she calls "blog tag." This month, she gave a little peek behind the scenes of her business, and tagged other bloggers to do the same! Then they tagged some bloggers and they tagged some, and somewhere along the way Kimberly Costa of Honizukle tagged ME! Fun! I can't resist a good game of tag, so here's a backstage pass into my little studio!

Question 1: What’s your two to three sentence bio? (You know, what the heck do you do?)

I’m a designer, illustrator, and maker of fun and quirky invitations and paper goods. But really? I make people look as cool and creative as they feel. Like that friend who always has the perfect top to loan you when you go out? That’s me. I’m putting your awesomeness on paper so that your friends and family can see how much fun they’re going to have when they come to your party (or even just open their mail from you!)

Question 2: What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love a lot of parts of my job, but I have two favorite favorites:

1) I love love love that I can work from home with my daughter. That’s the whole reason I started a business--so that I can be home for her and watch her grow. I work more hours than I ever planned, but I also have the flexibility to volunteer at her preschool and take her berry picking and have pajama days with her.

2) I love making things that make people happy! When customers write to me to tell me how many compliments they got on their invites or how much fun everyone had with their backstage passes, it just makes my day! I love that I can create something for people that delights them and their friends.

Question 3: What’s your least favorite part of your job?

Well if I have two favorites, I can have two least favorites:

1) Managing my time--I wear all the hats. So I’m designing, photographing, writing sales copy, processing orders, answering questions, printing, cutting, packaging, marketing, bookkeeping, AND I’m being a wife and mommy! So figuring out where to put my attention and energy at any given time is a struggle for me.

2) I find marketing to be a bit overwhelming. Deep down, I’m secretly pretty shy. I’ve become more outgoing as I’ve gotten older, but when it comes to my work, I still have a hard time saying, “Hey look! I made this! Don’t you want to buy it?”

Question 4: What are the top three tools you use the most in your work?

Macbook Pro - I almost never sit at my desk (unless my battery is dying!) So a laptop is a must. I like to design, blog, and email from the couch or even outside while Olivia plays. I also watch webinars or listen to podcasts at my cutting table while I’m working. I love my Macbook Pro so much, I bought it a twin sister.

Xerox ColorQube 8870 - My beloved solid ink printer! I print pretty much everything in-house, and the ColorQube is my favorite for so many reasons: solid ink has a cool texture and is perfect for bright, bold colors; it’s environmentally friendly and there’s very little waste (no cartridges!); it handles really thick paper, metallic card stock, I even printed on chipboard with it!

Swingline ClassiCut Ingento Guillotine Paper Trimmer - Is it sort of insane to cut each invitation and card individually? Yes, yes it is. But I value precision. And the stack cutters I’ve had just aren’t precise enough for me. I’m saving up for a new stack cutter, but until then, this little guy gives me a clean and precise cut time after time.

Question 5: What business goal would you love to reach before the end of the year?

I would love to feel like my first pattern collection is “complete,” and get started on a real portfolio. I’d also love to turn those patterns into some products and have them up for sale in time for holiday shopping. I can also feel that big changes are in store for Fresh Paper Studios, and I'd love to end the year with a clear sense of direction as to where I'm going

Question 6: Who are three creatives that inspire you?

Bonnie Christine - Bonnie has turned me on to the world of surface pattern design. Hearing her story and taking her class has reinvigorated my creativity. And I love that she's a self-taught designer!

Lisa Congdon - Illustrator, author, teacher--she’s basically who I want to be when I grow up. I love that she started out doing something other than art and switched careers later in life.

My mom - My mom is the most creative person on the planet. I really owe all my creativity to her--some was probably genetic, and some has been a result of lots and lots of projects. (As far as I know, dining room tables are for arts and crafts and not for meals.) She is always creating just for the sake of creating and learning how to make new things. She also wouldn’t let me go to art school, which was probably a good thing. I get burnt out easily, and going to regular school let me fall in love with writing, math, and teaching. She is also inspiring when it comes to going after her dreams. She’s had several career changes in her life, went back to school at 50 (and has more degrees than I can count!)

Question 7: What do you listen to (if anything) while you work?

This playlist: Work It Girl Or podcasts. My two favorites are The Lively Show by Jess Lively and The SeanWes Podcast with Sean McCabe and Ben Toalson.

Question 8: Morning person or night owl?

Morning person! I wasn’t always that way, but after having a baby, I was forced to find the beauty of early mornings, and I totally love it! The flip side of being energetic in the mornings, though? I’m totally useless after 2pm.

Question 9: How many employees do you have and what are the main things they do for you?

I’ll spare you the boring explanation about the difference between an employee and an independent contractor and just tell you about my awesome assistant, Chandler! She cuts cards and invites, packages orders to be shipped, takes things to the post office, and most importantly, catches my mistakes! I wish she could work every day! But she’s also a full time college student and has 3 other jobs! (Superwoman!) So I am so grateful for the hours she spends making me look good!

And I have to give my mom another shout out here! She sews all of my business cards for me! And always helps me out when I'm in a jam.

Question 10: What’s your favorite social media platform?

Instagram! I’m totally a visual person, so it’s great for me. I could also spend hours on Pinterest. (Who couldn’t?)

Question 11: What’s your least favorite social media platform?

I don’t love twitter. I just never really got into it.

Question 12: What works best when it comes to marketing your business?

Remember Question 3? I could totally use tips when it comes to marketing! I think having a unique style and delivering a quality product with impeccable customer service is a good place to start. But I also know I need to do more than that (“If you design it, they will come” is just not the reality in the wide world of the interwebs.) Like maybe build my email list! Would you like to sign up? Click here!

Question 13: What’s one thing about your business that your blog readers probably don’t know?

I didn’t actually set out to be a designer. Originally my plan was to create DIY invitation kits for crafty brides to do their own thing. (I was disappointed with the quality of the kits that were already out there.) But then an old friend saw what I was doing and asked me to design her save the dates. From there, I started designing for cousins and friends, and really fell in love with design. I did sell a few kits, but they never really took off--and I’m so glad! Designing is so much more fun, and I think that’s how I help people the most--by putting clever designs out in the world.

Question 14: If your business were a fashion accessory, what would it be?

These green cowgirl boots. They’re worn in and comfortable, like an old friend. And super fun and unique. Plus they go with pretty much every outfit. I always feel cute when I wear them, and they're a great conversation starter!

Question 15: What’s your top tip for someone who wants to do something similar to you for a career?

There is room for you. That was something Bonnie Christine said in her class, and that one sentence has gotten me through some dark times as a designer and business owner. I was lucky to start my business before Pinterest or Instagram even existed and before I had heard of Etsy. I really had nothing to compare myself to, and that was magical. These days, it’s easy to get discouraged by all the wonderful artists there are out there doing wonderful things. It’s hard to feel like you are enough or like you have something new to offer. But you do. There is room for you.

I’m tagging these 6 people to answer these questions on their blogs:

1) Casey Roach, Independent Beauty Consultant - because she’s my sister and she’s awesome. Also, I’m really excited about her growing Mary Kay business. (Yeah, Mary Kay isn’t just for old ladies anymore, people!)

2) Holly Marsh of MarshMeuller - Holly makes super cool, modern accessories for babies and mamas. She’s the bomb. And her blog posts are the best, so I can’t wait to see how she answers these questions!

3) Annie Loiza of Annie Helen - Annie’s a photographer and designer, and her kids are so cute, they’ll make you explode. We haven’t chatted in a few months, so I’d love to hear how her business is going!

4) YOU! Ok, is that a cop out? Maybe. But if you have a blog and a business, I totally want to hear about it! Just make sure you comment below, so I can read your post!

To play, just copy and paste the questions above and fill in your own answers! Also, if you don't want to play because you're too busy or you just don't feel like it, no pressure! Tag is purely meant for fun.

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About Us

Fresh Paper is a hip, funky invitation boutique that caters to wickedly awesome couples who value great design. We specialize in clever, offbeat, and unique invitations for today's modern couple. We call Portland, Oregon home, and we're thrilled to work with couples around the globe. We also love babies, new houses, and new businesses! We're here to help you celebrate life's great adventures!