WRITER | CANDIE CONAT
PHOTOS | THE PAPER STUDIO
The Paper Studio in Grand Rapids is the greeting card lover’s dream come true. Abbey Fowler started The Paper Studio in 2011 with the decision to start small, but she also fostered her dream of expanding in the future. Raised by two successful entrepreneurs, Fowler knew she would make it work – and that she did. Her dream became a reality in 2013, when she went from 300 to 1,500 square feet, and now the dream is getting even bigger: Fowler is opening her second store in the Grand Rapids area.
Fowler and the staff at The Paper Studio create and produce a large variety of the items they sell in the store: over 400 different greeting cards at last count, along with things like wall prints and baby onesies. Soon they will be adding journals and mugs to their creations as well. In addition to their pieces, Fowler searches for local vendors and travels to gift shows around the country to find the perfect items, choosing to work mostly with small stationery and gift companies. She says those small, closely held companies are the people creating fun, unique, and sassy items that her customers won’t find at the store next door, down the street, or across town.
I wondered about the impact of electronic communications like email and e-cards on hand-created and hand-written cards, but Fowler told me that they are not having a negative impact on her sales, which have increased significantly every year since she opened. “It’s all about being personal and unique and finding your special place in the market, which we have done.” She feels that electronic communication has only helped to make the paper greeting card more cherished. With the creative and unique cards she offers, the card in many ways becomes the gift.
The Paper Studio has a wedding specialist on staff to work specifically with couples who want to send personal and touching handmade cards and invitations for their special occasion. The wedding market is where The Paper Studio began its journey, and it continues to grow every year.
Mother’s Day is by far the biggest card holiday of the year at The Paper Studio, surpassing even the Christmas holiday season. Fowler loves to watch trends come and go and said it’s fun to see what animal or symbol is going to catch on and become the hot new trend. Currently, it’s pineapples, unicorns, cacti, and llamas that people are looking for when they visit.
Fowler is excited to be opening her second store. Where The Paper Studio is fun, quirky and sassy, the new store will be more feminine and flowery, sort of the sweet side of The Paper Studio, she said.
The Paper Studio 40 Monroe Center NW, #103, Grand Rapids, MI 49503 / (616) 690-5598 l ThePaperStudioGR.com