Supporting small businesses is something we strive to do, always. This past year has become more vital for the survival of those companies. This month’s spotlight is all about one of our other favorite things – stationary. If you have followed our Instagram account for any amount of time, you have seen the posts on snail mail. I love writing notes. The excitement of getting mail (that isn’t a bill!) is strong with adults, and sending it on beautiful stationary or stickers adds extra luxury to that note. A friend tagged me in a post by Emilynne (power of social media) and I reached out to learn about her and her inspiration behind her beautiful paper products.
Also – a nod to military families – she has some gorgeous stickers for PCSing season.
I present to you – the creative mind behind Kiku Paper Co – Emilynne.
Tell us a little bit about you?
I’m Emilynne, mother of 2 (and a half!), Navy wife and former Navy brat. As such, I’ve spent most of my life traveling overseas (which has its pros and cons) but I love the excitement every duty station brings! I like to joke that I’m probably the most extroverted introvert you’ll ever meet because I get mistaken for an extrovert all the time! I am totally a homebody who prefers cuddling on the couch to read over partying, but if I were to go to a party, you will definitely find me chatting away with everyone (while I set up camp next to the food table).
Tell us a little bit about the start of Kiku Paper? What or who was the motivation behind it?
I started Kiku Paper Co in November 2019 after I started getting a lot of freelance work as a designer. I had done onesie twosie jobs on and off over the years under my own name as a designer, but as my work started getting noticed, I felt like it was the right time to dedicate more time to work and pursue an active job. My eldest was starting to go to school and my youngest was becoming more independent, so for the first time in several years, I felt like I actually had the time to make things “official” and give my brand a name.
I actually had a business prior to having kids called Studio Lemyx where I sold handmade miniature food jewelry and magnets. I ended up closing shop when my husband and I first moved overseas because of the difficulty of running a home business on base in a foreign country. Years later, I almost went back to starting that business again, but after much thought, I decided against it due to the amount of time it took to set up. Although my kids were more or less independent, I still needed to have my hands available to help them if I had to work and working with clay wouldn’t do. So, I opted to pursue the less messy option of art and stationery design. I graduated from college with a BFA in Graphic Design, so design felt like a natural choice. It was something I already loved and it gave me the flexibility I needed in terms of 1) it’s a business that can travel between duty stations and 2) I can squeeze work between the kids’ naps and not have to worry about finding a good stopping point before I need to be in “mommy mode” again.
How do you decide on products to include in Kiku Paper?
I had started drawing and sharing my art on Instagram a couple months prior to opening up shop and received a few requests to make stickers. The idea of making my own stickers piqued my interest, and as I did more research, I felt more and more compelled to make them myself! As for wedding invitations, my sister is a wedding photographer and would often ask me to make some mockup designs for her photoshoots. I had so much fun making them and loved the feeling of seeing them in photos, so I wanted to add that to my lineup. It felt appropriate to be able to offer different kinds of paper goods!
What is like to start your own business? Were there any licensing hurdles?
I’ll be honest, it was a bit challenging. The fact that home business laws change from state to state and me trying to take into account all the information I have to track, it gets confusing! We are fortunate that the Navy doesn’t have plans to move us anytime soon, but I know come PCS time, it will be interesting trying to move my business to wherever we get sent to next. It helps that my business only operates online!
How does having your own business fit with the military lifestyle?
Aside from having a lot of electronic equipment and tons of craft supplies, I think my business will be fine with our transient lifestyle. Legal issues aside, if I have my computer or laptop (at the bare minimum), I can still do business!
What is your favorite product?
Is it a cop out to say all products are my favorite? Haha! My favorite usually ends up being the latest thing I make (right now, it’s the pink foiled cherry blossoms), but any new artwork I create sparks a new love in me!
Do you find that it is manageable to continue the business whilst navigating the other duties of marriage and/or parenting?
To be honest, the only time I can really sit down and work is when my husband comes home and in the morning on weekends. It’s a very difficult juggling act for sure. With wedding invitations, I can plan out the process over several weeks, so I don’t feel stressed to get a job done over a weekend, but when it gets closer to the final delivery date, I definitely feel the need to ask for help with taking care of the kids. I love having weekends to be family time and though it’s essentially cutting out a day I have to get things done, it’s absolutely necessary in order for me to not let myself get absorbed completely into work.
Favorite motivational quote?
Not quite a motivational quote, but something that lifts my spirits: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In life and in business, focusing on what others are doing will only make you feel inadequate–it’s easy to feel jealous of someone else’s clean house or 10k followers, but you don’t know the journey they took to get there.
Favorite thing to do?
I love playing video and tabletop games! (Yes, I am a huuuuuuge nerd!)
Favorite place to live?
Hands down, Japan. Such a beautiful country with the nicest people you’ll ever meet!
How do people contact you for orders?
My DMs on Instagram are always open for custom orders, but I direct most people to my website, http://kikupaper.co
Number one tip to give to fellow moms who want to start their own business?
Pick something you absolutely LOVE to do because it’s hard finding your balance and rhythm. If you don’t love what you’re doing, it will be easy to give up! Also, know that lots of us spouses and parents still have struggles no matter how big (or small!) we may be and asking for help is not a sign of weakness–it’s proof that you are willing to follow through with your passion
BOTTOM LINE : There are challenges, it isn’t easy to juggle, but it is fulfilling when you love it.
If you have made it this far – thank you for reading about our featured small business this month. Be sure to follow our Instagram to learn about an upcoming giveaway from Kiku Paper Co!