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Small Business School: 2018 Year in Review

Alyssa Nguyen

Small Business School: 2018 Year in Review

And just like that, another year has come and gone! I know everyone always says how fast time goes by but I swear 2018 came and went in a blink of an eye- don’t you agree?

We celebrated SO much this year- I feel like as a small business, specifically a brick + mortar shop, we finally found our stride in 2018. We moved from our original space into the space I had only ever dreamed about. I’ve told so many of you (in real life) how our new space was the space I had always wanted- but it didn’t exist back when I was looking for a space back in 2014. It did take me almost a full year to find our original E 6th location. And I’m trusting more and more that there was a reason that was the place I was meant to be in as I got The Paper + Craft Pantry started. Our old space allowed me to really play, navigate and learn all about the business and it really allowed me to grow it where when the time came to move, it was a natural and rather seamless transition.

I’ve shared a year in review for the past few years- you can peek more at 2017 and 2016 ! It’s really fun to go back through the archives and read the words I had typed to document our years in business. I’m proud of the growth not only as a business, but also personally.

2018 was a year of growth. A big year of growth all around for The Paper + Craft Pantry- I’ve learned a lot and if you’ve been following along, you’ve seen and been a part of it all :) Here are the big 5 things that happened in business for us this year.


Y’all, this was the first FULL year I paid myself every. single. month. It may not seem like a big deal but it’s huge considering I was only taking out what I needed for bills etc for the past 5 years. But this year, I was able to allow the business to support me month to month. The business has also been able to continue to pay our lovely and hardworking studio assistants- which in turn has allowed me to pursue other opportunities for The Paper + Craft Pantry.

I allocated funds strategically this year- anticipating for inventory purchases, for marketing and event expenses, and even for our move this summer.

I really believe that I finally got comfortable and acquainted with the business’s finances even though for a long time I told myself I was not good at it. This book really made a huge impact for me and if you’re interested in getting more familiar with your finances, particularly your business’s finances, I highly recommend it!

2018 was a good year because I was able to release a lot of stress in relation to money and was able to come from a place of abundance.


I’ve learned how to graciously say no. I don’t think it will ever be “easy” for me, but I’m getting better at setting boundaries. I have declined meetings, sponsorship opportunities, media opportunities, partnerships for a variety of reasons. But I know my limits. I know the limits of my business and I’m okay with giving myself (and the business) space. I no longer feel the need to fill every day with a meeting, or an event or anything that isn’t a 100000% yes.


Growing pains y’all. The more we grow as a business, the more I’m realizing I need support. I needed to create space in the business to allow for more help in running the day-to-day. It’s been difficult, personally, to allow the right people to step into the business as well as a huge learning curve to identify the right people and have them in the right roles so they can flourish.

I’m someone who likes to take my time, I don’t like feeling rushed to find the right people. I also feel like it’s so important for it to be a right fit on both sides. To me, every one who works at our shop is an extension of our business, a representation of what our business stands for. I also know the importance of a first impression with a guest who comes into our shop- I don’t think it should matter if I’m the one there, or a new studio assistant, the experience should be the same.

This was a year of filling out the people side of the business, getting systems into place so we can grow our tiny but mighty team, and learning how to onboard as quickly as we transition through our team members. Because in full transparency, turnover is very real in part-time retail!


From the moment someone walks through outdoors, my single wish is that they know they are welcomed. They’re greeted by our signature shop scent (now available in a diffuser oil blend!) even before they are warmly greeted by myself or our studio assistant. They’re able to browse our shop at their own pace as they discover new stationery treasures at each turn.

The same goes for our workshops, thought goes into everything- down to the last and seemingly minute detail. I know that our guests and workshop students can take their business (and money) elsewhere but the fact that they choose to do so with us, means the world and I want it to be evident for the entire time they are in our shop + studio.

We’ve been brainstorming, dreaming and planning how to continue to deliver the most top-notch experience. To continue to surprise and delight every single person who comes in!


It’s been a long time coming (literally, I said I wanted to do this right after we opened in 2015) but opening a physical store was a lot more work than I ever could have anticipated. I run the retail shop as it’s own entity and the workshop side of the business as it’s own. So it’s very much felt like I’ve been growing and building on two separate businesses for the past few years!

You can read more about our product launch here and you can now shop our entire collection online!

Putting your work out there can be really difficult and I almost forgot what it felt like- for all the stationers and designers who reach out and the ones we work with. They constantly put themselves out there with their work not knowing what the response could be. And let me tell you, that’s some scary stuff! But none the less, they push through the fear and just continue to create. And that’s so freaking admirable in my opinion!

The response over the past few weeks since our launch has been nothing short of warm and just incredible. I am so thrilled to be able to share even more paper with y’all in our shop as well as send some P+CP goodies out in the world.


2018 was a year of:

  • getting comfortable with the financial side of the business- which enabled me to come from a place of abundance and to focus seriously on growing our business as a whole

  • saying no more to keep space open for myself and the business. Something that I

    plan on continuing into 2019

  • growing our small but mighty team with intention

  • elevating our guest experience in store and online

  • launching our new product line

See you all in 2019 :)

xo, Pei