ONLINE ORDERS PLACED AFTER DEC 5TH. MAY NOT ARRIVE BY DEC 25TH!

Small Businesses I'm Loving: 2021 Gift Guide

Pei Sim


Small Businesses I'm Loving: 2021 Gift Guide

Tis the season to shop small!

I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of person who shops all year long and squirrels away little gifts for friends + family. It feels a little more intentional when something I come across any time of the year feels like it belongs to someone I know vs. the rushed or hurried fervor that comes with shopping only during the holidays. 

A fringe benefit of living in Austin as well as hosting pop up markets at the shop is that I pretty much get to shop small in a very convenient way! 

I'm going to share a quick list of small businesses I personally supported this year both for gifts as well as for myself :) 

  • This large cozy candle and this one both by 7th Street Candle Co. I love their all natural ingredients plus these scents are wintery without being too overwhelmingly Christmas. 
  • I snagged a pair of these handmade earring studs as a holiday gift for a friend by Ashdel.
  • I loved this crossbody leather bag in this color by Purse & Clutch but opted for the black leather because of tiny toddler hands. It'll be the perfect on-the-go, handsfree bag when we travel in a couple of weeks 
  • I got this plant propagation station from Awkward Auntie for myself :)
  • This baseball cap from Frankie Jean is going to be a really cute gift for one of my cousins. 
  • This sticker and this one from Kathy Phantastic are going to be cute little stocking stuffers this year. 
  • I have been eyeing these mini paintings from Little Green Press and got one of her cards for a plant loving friend. 
  • Got more than one of these pins from Meg Ya Look because I know of someone who would love this and also needed one for myself. 
  • Snagged another pair of earrings as a gift from Chauncey & Co Co plus this cute sticker for P 
  • Got a print is going to go in our upstairs guest loft and had a hard time choosing just one because all of Pen & Stem's art prints are beautiful 
  • I picked up a similar wall hanging from Flourish Fiber Art as a gift for someone who is expecting a new baby and also got P a minimal white + gold one. Her keychains would be sweet friend/co-worker gifts! 
  • Every Texan needs these postcards by Mazapan Paper Co. They're so cute!
  • I got this cute pouch by Brit Drot for P, she's been into rocks + crystals lately and it's perfect for corralling them in one place plus it's cute! 
  • Almost every year, someone I know will get some felt flowers from Zella & Kay as a gift. I love that they are everlasting and handmade by quite possibly the best human on earth.
  • Jollie Ollie makes some of the most fun stationery and other home/every day goods - I got some pins, an ornament and a cute enamel mug. Her shop is closed now but bookmark it to check out next year!
  • I got some of WatercolorATX's stickers and pretty much all of her watercolor stationery and prints would be amazing holiday gifts!

Some other small businesses I love:

  • In addition to collecting mugs (Evan says we have too many but what does he know?), I also apparently enjoy collecting well made wood charcuterie boards. I got this one from Post Oak Carpentry and it's made by 1/2 of the sweet couple who have been writing/sending cards from our shop to each other over serval years. 
  • For everyone who loves self-care and is interested in natural ingredients, Sam Wish is my favorite go-to for all the things. I swear by this essential oil blend when I'm feeling under the weather. 
  • I've been "accidentally" collecting Eliana Bernard's miniature pottery and ceramic pieces over the past year and let me tell you what a happy accident that has been. So of course I got one of her mini tile ornaments
  • Maisie & Willow Fiber made some really sweet holiday ornaments. Got one for P's Christmas tree this year!
  • I love my Settle Ceramics latte mug so so so much. It's something that I use specifically around the winter months and it just feels extra cozy when I'm drinking coffee! 
  • I've been eyeing this truly aesthetically pleasing wood board for so long and was so excited to finally get one for my self during the studio tour from Warwood Made

While this list is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive of every single small business I love and support, I'd like to think it's a good starting point for anyone looking to discover some new small business brands. 

And maybe I'll make a goal to make a larger list. Possibly before the month of December. #goals

p.s. I can assure you with 100% certainty that these small businesses (myself included) and even those not mentioned, are so beyond grateful for your support, purchases and orders. Every single day but especially during this holiday season! 

So if you’re still looking for a few last minute holiday gifts, just scroll up and click on some of those links and you’ll likely find just the perfect thing ❤️

 

 

Recipe Share: Chicken & Dumplings

Pei Sim


Easy Chicken & Dumpling Recipe

I know this may be a bit out of left field for a paper shop but if y'all have been following along, you know the the second thing I love after paper is probably food. I love sharing food with y'all and every fall + winter, it feels just right to usher in the cooler temperatures with my favorite recipe! 

I learned how to make this years ago, in college while living in my sorority house. Our house cook would make this for us pretty regularly and before I graduated, I asked her to show me how to make this. It's a bit of an adaptation of her OG recipe but just as good! 

This recipe yields a pretty large pot of delicious food and while I'm not a recipe or food blogger, I feel like the simple ingredients and recipe is perfect for anyone wanting some comfort food this winter! This is also something Evan requests when it's cold or he doesn't feel well and I'm pleased to report that it's even approved by P (Yay! 2 year old approved) 

I also love making this and taking over to friends who are under the weather as it's easy too divvy up into 3-4 Tupperwares for easy reheating. 

Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do in our home! And if you do make this, let me know what you think!  

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken (shredded) 

1 large can of cream of chicken condensed soup

1 large container of chicken broth (option to add more)

2 tablespoons butter

3-4 celery stalks chopped

2 cups frozen peas and carrots (you can use fresh if you want)

2 large cans of canned biscuits 

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1/2 tablespoon onion powder

Pepper to taste

Parsley to finish

Instructions: 

Heat a medium sized pot and melt butter. Add celery, peas and carrots to sauté. Add garlic powder and onion powder. 

Keep the temperature medium to low. Add in cream of chicken soup and mix well. Combine with chicken broth and stir well to bring to a slow rolling boil 

*It's important to let the contents of your pot comet to a boil before you do the next step! 

Open the can of biscuits and cut each biscuit disc into 1/8 pieces. This doesn't have to be perfect. 

Add them in slowly and stir gently. 

Allow everything to boil for about 20 minutes on low to medium heat. Add pepper to taste. 

Add in the shredded chicken and allow to warm for another few minutes. 

Serve and top with parsley!  

 

The P+CP Kickstarter Project

Pei Sim


The P+CP Kickstarter Project

Hi paper friends! 

It's wild to think it's now been 6 months since our Kickstarter campaign went live. It both feels like an eternity ago as well as just like it was yesterday. 

So much has happened since April -  but most notably, we packed up our shop and moved into our new space! 

But before I get ahead of myself, I felt like I needed to find a moment to pause and reflect back on this incredible show of support for our community. Because it's so special to me and will hands down be one of the top 5 events of my small business career. 

If you need a little refresher or reminder, you can check out the campaign here where you can view some of the videos that explain more about why I decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign and a lot more details about the experience of trying to keep a small business alive through a global pandemic. 

I went back and forth about hitting launch for a week or so because it feels hard to ask for help. It feels scary and vulnerable to put yourself out there, in this case, in front of a lot of you who I feel like I know but have never actually met. I did some research aka Googling and found out that most successful campaigns run for 30 days. So I did a 30 day campaign. I had mapped out a loose timeline of how we would talk about the campaign via social media as well as to our in-store guests in the hopes of getting this project funded. 

I felt confident that I would be able to rally our community during the 30 days to meet our goal. I enrolled some small business friends who agreed to help talk about our campaign. I scheduled a few newsletters and Instagram posts but that was really the extent of the "plan". I ditched the pressure and stress of spending hours on marketing and content years ago. Turns out it didn't make me happy, and what makes me happy is genuinely showing up for ya'll through the products we stock our shelves, chatting with ya'll in person (and in DMs), and honestly, posting whenever I wanted to or felt like it. 

At midnight when I hit launch, names started popping up almost immediately. Perhaps a mixture of being sad I stayed up so late (lol) and also genuine bewilderment that some of y'all also stayed up late, knowing that I wasn't alone in that moment felt really special. And truly, I have not felt alone through this past year and a half with our incredible team and each and every one of you who have given me so much hope. 

I closed my laptop and tried to get some sleep before I'd have to wake up with P. And low and behold, woke up to see we were more than half way to our campaign goal. The rest of the day felt like a blur. We met our goal of 15k in less than 12 hours. And it didn't stop there, we doubled our goal in 24 hours. 

It still feels surreal and still feels very tender in my heart to think back on what I felt during that day. The immense love for our shop and the incredible show of support will forever stir up emotions for me. And I hope it never goes away because I never want to forget it.

Reaching the kickstarter goal and surpassing it has given me space to exhale a breath I didn't realize I had been holding since March 2020. It's taken a literal, physical weight off my shoulders to know I don't have to do this alone.

With our community's support and love, I was able to move the shop. The $ raised continues to be treated with a lot of care as I allocate it within the business because I know it's your hard earned dollars. And I want to honor that. 

So far the Kickstarter funds have gone towards: 

Our new beautiful store front window vinyls

Hiring Corey (our muralist) to paint our iconic mural 

Building out more card wall shelves in our new space

Building out our pen wall shelves

Purchasing our rewards products

Adding new artists and designers to our shop

Expanding our product offering in our shop + online

Growing our small, all-woman team 

Just to name a few things...

 

Whether or not you were able to contribute to the campaign, the fact that I have the absolute honor of calling this small business my job is not lost on me. Beyond the stationery, I love having a door (a physical door you can walk through) because it's been a life changing way of allowing me to meet so many of y'all.

And I cannot wait to continue to be your favorite little paper shop in Austin (and beyond!)

xo, Pei 

Here are a few peeks at some of our rewards :)

 

 

 

Our First In-Studio Workshop

Pei Sim


Our First In-Studio Workshop

Hello everyone! 

Gosh it's been a minute since I have blogged and I feel like it's a great time to share our first blog post that features our first workshop in 2021! 

It felt extra special since this workshop was led by my friend and super talented artist, Emily of Revery Paper Flora. Emily had texted me to let me know she was in town and wanted to see if I could meet up for dinner - according to her, which is accurate, I called her instead of texting back and basically convinced her to teach a workshop with the allure of our new studio space as well as with promises of food after. 

I know it might sound silly but I said to everyone in the class while I was sitting there working on my paper flower how truly happy I feel in the moment. It felt surreal having an actual in-person workshop after so many months of not having anyone in our studio. And it felt even more magical in our brand new workshop studio. 

This first workshop has me very excited to resume a bit more normalcy and bring back our monthly workshops for y'all!

The plan to resume our in-person classes was to start back up officially starting October of this year with some changes to how we do things. 

Pre-Covid (and pre having a child), I felt like we did a lot. Like a lot. 3-4 workshops or events a week, every week from the day we opened our doors in 2015. And at least right now, that sounds overwhelming! I've had a lot of time to think about what I want this business to look like moving forward and something I keep coming back to is - less is more and also, doing less but doing it better. 

Here's how our workshops will look like:

  • 3-4 workshops a month released quarterly
    • VIP access to tickets for those on our newsletter list 1hr before it is publicly released
    • Classes will take place between Thursdays - Sundays
    • By hosting a more curated calendar of classes, it will allow us to create kit versions of the workshops at a more accessible price than our in-person classes and for those who do not live in Austin
  • Smaller class sizes
    • no more than 10 students per class
    • = more 1-on-1 instruction from instructors
  • Slightly longer class times
    • Classes will be 3+hrs in duration
    • we want everyone to feel like they have ample time to unwind, work and get creative as well as get to know the instructor + fellow students too!
  • Include more materials + goodies
    • the goal is to provide y'all with enough materials to not only create something during the class but have extras to take home to continue creating
    • extra surprise goodies as a thank you for attending
  • Get to know the instructor
    • We plan to cater in a delicious meal from a local small business to kick off each class
    • It's a wonderful time to get to know the instructor as well as your fellow students
    • We will also provide our usual snacks + beverages during the workshop 
  • Open Studio hours
    • Applies to workshops where the content allows for more work time
    • You will be welcome to come back into our studio with your supplies and get crafty!
  • Revised Workshop Policy
    • You will be able to send another student in your place 48hrs before the workshop or choose to have the kit version of the class shipped to you

 

An Open Letter To Our Community

Pei Sim


Dearest Paper Friend,

Today is the one year anniversary of when we closed our doors. It has both felt like another lifetime ago as well as like it was just yesterday. I am still in the pinch me phase (that I have been in for the past 12 months) that this small business still exists. 

I will never forget how utterly alone I felt. I had just barely started to feel myself again after having a baby. Through the postpartum months, the shop, our team and our community was what gave me something to look forward to when things felt so hard personally. I felt like I was good at what I did at the shop and it helped balance out how I felt like I was failing miserably at home. 

It felt like someone had pulled the rug out from under my feet when we closed and I found myself feeling like I was all alone, and 100% clueless about 100% of my life. Letting my employees go was one of the hardest things I've had to do to date as a small business owner. The girls really feel like the younger sisters I never had but always wanted as an only child. Their commitment, hard work and support as I transitioned to take time off to have a baby was an unimaginable relief as I knew my business baby would be in wonderful hands. 

I remember crying a ton the first few weeks as I genuinely believed we would maybe make it until Summer before I would have burned through savings. I remember sharing very transparently via social media what I was feeling and what was going on. I remember bringing home inventory and packing supplies so I could package orders after P went to bed at night and praying she would sleep through the night so I could at least get a few consecutive hours of sleep before the sun came up. I remember wondering if all of this would be worth it, of if it would even matter. 

I also remember the messages of love, support and encouragement I received. I may not have responded to every single one but I hope you know I read each and every word. I remember the orders that kept popping up on our website. I remember recognizing the names and wishing I could thank you in person. I remember seeing new names with notes that they heard about our shop through someone in our community. I remember thinking the support would slow after a few months.

But the support didn't stop. While our revenue very much ebbs and flows and running an online business is still uncharted territory for us, I am completely in awe and blown away by the continued love and support you have shown us.

You may not know this, but I moved to the United States when I was about 12 years old. I was in a country across the world and had to start middle school in a country whose culture I was not familiar with. It may seem trivial but my love of stationery (I recall in particular gel pens) was an easy connection to the other kids in my classes. Stationery has always been a big part of my life and while I would not have imagined ever owning a shop before I opened our doors, I also cannot imagine doing anything else. 

Running a small business has many challenges and pairing that with not looking like everyone else (as well as perhaps looking younger for my age and maybe even because I am a woman), I have been ignored in business meetings and literally scoffed in the early stages of searching for a location to open the shop. That was almost 6 years ago now and there have been so many instances between where it's been easier to make myself small to the point of not telling people I actually own my own business because having to prove or explain myself got exhausting. Over the past year, I've been practicing taking up a little more space. Because I want to be an example for not only the women on our team, but other women in our community and beyond. And certainly for my daughter because I hope she gets to grow up alongside our shop and grows up in a world where she is valued, confident and takes up as much space as she likes. 

This practice has been made easier by you. You've given me little bits of strength through the act of simple kind words. You've given me hope on days that it's seemed easier to give up. You've given me a reason to keep fighting to keep this business going even when there has been no end in sight with this pandemic.

To follow up from my story about finding our first location, there is one thing I will always be proud of, is that I have never backed down from a challenge. I may not know how, but I know I can and will figure it out. I ended up finding our first location after numerous realtors ghosted me upon learning my rent budget wasn't $$$$, by driving around East Austin and calling every for lease sign I saw. 

I never really understood just how deeply I loved having a door until we had to close ours. Our door is a portal to a space where all are welcomed. Your happy place in a world that might feel hard sometimes. When you walk through our doors, you are so much more than just a customer. We feel like we are welcoming a friend into our home.

The months leading up to this Covid-19 anniversary has been emotional tumultuous as I struggled with not knowing if our lease ending would be a sign that perhaps this business was no longer mine to be had. I've always said that I would be in this business for as long as it was meant to be mine. And I feel like the past 12 months has been sending me serious mixed signals. 

And strangely, I feel more clarity now, on the eve of the one year mark when we closed our doors. I am not willing to give up even though I am afraid of an uncertain future for the shop. I am not going to go down without a fight and trying my damnedest to keep going. 

I can't wait to one day welcome ALL of you back in the shop. To be able to see your whole faces. And to continue to be your little paper oasis whether you live near or far.

p.s. I'll share more about our Kickstarter campaign soon so stay tuned! 
xo, Pei 

A note from Anna:

March 2020 felt like a blur. I remember how quickly things became serious and how everything was coming to a stop. It was a very confusing time that I've mostly erased from my memory. I'm so grateful for so many people coming together to support small businesses. People have come to appreciate the smaller and more personal touches that a small business provides and the support has been incredible over the past year.

Your support has been very uplifting for me. I haven't been able to stay connected with most friends and family in person for the past year, but I've been able to be a part of a much bigger community of people who support the Paper + Craft Pantry!

I love recognizing your names and the names of those who place multiple orders or who've reached out to support us for so long! During the past year when it's been nearly impossible to connect with people in person, getting to connect with y'all through stationery has been so fun!

 

A note from Meg:

March 2020 felt very uncertain. I wasn't sure what the future held, but I am so glad I had the P+CP team to get through it. 

I am grateful that y'all have been so patient, supportive, and understanding while we navigate the online shopping experience. Your support has truly meant so much to me over the past year. And I am so thankful for the kind words and notes y'all leave at check out online – they really brighten my day!

A note from Perry:

Although I was not working in the shop at that time, I think the past year has still felt like a really long extension of March 2020. Honestly, if it were not for our monthly subscription boxes I would have lost track of the months by now. Mainly, this past year has been filled with so much anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation. However, it has been encouraging to see communities pull together, people showing love from 6 feet apart, and seeing all the creative ways people are expressing themselves in these trying times.

I love how well y'all show us love. I hesitate to even use the word “customer,” because you are so much more than that, but the countless kind notes, treats, encouraging words from y'all makes it all worth it. You have made it impossible to not feel loved and cared for in these challenging times, and I am so grateful for all of you.

Life Latetly: 2020 Pandemic Road Trip

Pei Sim


Life Latetly: 2020 Pandemic Road Trip

Hi friends! 

It may seem odd to be sharing this on our blog but I wanted to give y'all a little peek behind the scenes (aka my life) since you all know by now that there's a real person behind this small business :) It feels really nice to connect with so many of you via the internet and through this shop - it honestly feels less lonely when you're stuck at home 24/7.

A few months ago, I started a conversation with Evan about how we felt about taking P on a little trip. And also how we felt about our comfortability level with having a family friend plus her family join us. I know we are in the midst of a pandemic but I also feel very strongly about there being a safe way for P to get to play with other children. 

Noting that this would be her second time every staying anywhere other than our house (we went and visited my parents who live about 2 hours away from Houston back in July) and I am honestly still a little anxious going anywhere with her. And to be fair, I haven't had much practice taking her places since she's spent more of her life in a global pandemic than not. 

WHO HAVE YOU SEEN AND WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING?

I had an extensive and ongoing conversation with our family friend who have two little girls around the age of 2 and 4. We agreed that we both had the same comfortability level and chatted very openly and frequently leading up to this weekend. It's strange to ask people who they've been seeing and what they've been doing but I feel that in order for me to be totally comfortable I needed to be sure that who I was thinking about spending time with was taking this pandemic as seriously as I was! My friend stays home with the girls, neither of the girls are back to daycare/school and her husband has been working from home. Evan has been working from home, and I've only been going into the shop a couple days a week (sometimes alone and sometimes with one or two of the girls but we always have masks on and we practice social distancing as well) And example is that if her girls were back at daycare or school, I may not feel okay with spending time with them since I don't know about all the people and other kids at the daycare or school. Or perhaps she may not feel comfortable with me if the shop was back open and I was interacting with more people beyond my household. 

We booked this an Airbnb months before and were open to plans changing or canceling if needed. The Airbnb  would allow us specifically to have lots of room for the girls to play and brought all of our food/groceries so we wouldn't have to leave. Not that there was any where to go to anyway! We were truly in the middle of nowhere with zero cell service.

The house was located about 3ish hours North East of Austin and had a large living, dining and kitchen area plus 4 bedrooms upstairs. A must was to have a washer and dryer plus be somewhat kid friend with space outside. And we hit the jackpot with this house. The two younger girls stayed in the room with a bunk bed and P had her travel crib in one room while Evan and I took one room, and my friend and her husband took the last room.

Also, there's an amazing screened in sunroom as well as a shaded fire pit area in the backyard that would be so incredible to spend time in cooler weather. And on one side of the house, there are four hammock style swings.

THE DRIVE 

We timed it where we left after her bottle so she would be awake in the car, be able to have a snack before we pulled over to change her diaper (it's one of her "time to go to bed" cues) read her a book and turned on her portable sound machine so she would take a nap in the car. She usually manages to take at least an hour nap which is pretty good for her. She did this both ways and the drive was not too bad.

We packed her a little backpack of car toys to entertain her while she was awake. And she only started to get fussy when we are 15-20 mins away from our house, who could blame her? Sitting still for a little baby is really hard! 

SLEEPING + NAPS

Our end goal of each day is to help set P up for a successful night's sleep. And it's no different being away from home.

We wanted to ensure she would be able to rest for her naps and at night too so it was a must for us to pack her sound machines, her favorite sleep sacks and pacifiers plus black out shades to create a cozy and dark environment. We had no issues with her falling asleep for her naps or sleeping through the night the entire weekend!

The only thing I would do different next time is to actually set her travel crib up the day or two before we go somewhere so she could "practice" sleeping in there. The first few times she woke up while napping this weekend, she cried because I think she woke up confused as to where she was.

TOP 5 THINGS I PACKED

I definitely overpacked clothes for her but overall, we did end up using almost everything we packed which is kind of insane! 

But if I had to choose, these are the things I will never leave the house without.

  1. Sound machines (crucial since you can't really tell a 2 and 4 year old to be quiet lol)
  2. A small fan (I know she's past the risk age for SIDS but moving air is just nice to have especially if I'm not 100% of the temperature we will keep the house at)
  3. Her favorite books (especially the ones we read to her before her naps and before bed)
  4. Her chair (it's a high chair that kind of anchors itself to any table top surface) + travel crib (we got one that folds into an actual backpack)
  5. Black out shades (we have some that have suction cups to them which was helpful since this house didn't have window shades and a dark environment helps cue her that it's time to sleep)

She had an amazing time and was super stimulated just by watching the girls play and also from crawling around everywhere so we just watched her closely to make sure she didn't get overtired throughout the day. Her little eyes lit up overtime she saw the girls running around and it was so heart melting watching the two girls be so sweet to baby P!

Overall, I feel like this trip was so needed for her because it feels crazy that this was her first time getting to play with other children. To maintain the integrity and wellness here at the shop and as a part of our small team, I will be going into the shop around the times I have scheduled the girls to be here for 14 days starting today. 

Here's the listing to the modern farmhouse we stayed at - it sleeps up to 10 people so it was perfectly large enough for 4 adults, 2 small children and 1 infant! I was able to snap a few photos before the 3 tinies humans basically took over the house :)