We love stationery in the South. Kimberly Washington of paperKuts Studio in Nashville, TN loved it so much she started her own business. Learn more about Kimberly Washington and her story of a passion turning into her business.
Western Kentucky University
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated
What services do you provide?
paperKuts studio is a full service stationer. We provide invitations and stationery for any occasion. If you are in need of a custom design, calligraphy, wax seals, stamps, personal or professional stationery, corporate gifting and anything else, we are here to assist. paperKuts studio also has a wide variety of paper goods and gifts.
Why did you decide to start a business?
I have always had a love for all things paper, so this was a natural desire for me. This isn’t my first attempt at becoming an entrepreneur. I’ve tried twice in the past and failed. Even though those failures hurt, I learned from them. I’m not saying I’ve done everything correctly. I still make mistakes and second guess myself, but I absolutely LOVE what I do!
Before you owned a business, what did you do?
My career has always been in sales and management. Before I opened paperKuts studio, I worked for a local non-profit that was a liaison between the community and the public school system. Currently, I am still employed with two part-time jobs!
What is your favorite client story?
This may sound a bit unbelievable, but I am so appreciative of every customer that has visited paperKuts studio! I learn from every experience, whether it is great or not so great. It does make me a tad bit sad when my brides get married! That is the goal, yes, but I’ve worked with some for over a year with their save-the-dates, invites, shower needs and thank yous. You build a relationship and then you don’t get to see them anymore! I can say that I’ve made great friends and acquaintances via some of my customers. I do love that!
What is the most interesting client request you have had?
The most interesting and hilarious client request has been for a ‘pop-up’ card for a bachelor’s party. I hope they read this, because they know who they are!
What is the most important thing you have done to build your business?
The most important thing I’ve done so far is sold my home! Being in business is tough, especially when you are single, female and chocolate. I’ve had to attempt to become more in tune with social media. I like it; I don’t want to do it, if that makes sense. Still not a pro, but I am working on it!
Do you have any mentors? Who and how do they help?
I was blessed to have the opportunity to relocate to my current location. My mentor, Mignon Francois, is the owner of The Cupcake Collection with two stores in Nashville. She offered the space next door to her store and it has been nothing but wonderful! Mignon’s story is phenomenal and is truly an inspiration to me. She offers sound advice and encouragement. Those moments come when I need it the most. I cannot express how thankful I am.
What do you love about stationery?
What don’t I love about stationery?!?!? Over 10 years ago, I walked into a local paper store and fell in deep love. Goosebumps covered my arms and I knew this was my passion. I love it all!
What are some stationery lines your store carries? What do you love about them?
I try to offer stationery that will compliment any budget. paperKuts studio has the more popular lines such as: Carlson Craft, Page Stationery, Printswell and Birchcraft. My goal is to bring in local talent such as: Pop In Greetings, Something Detailed, Southern Fried and Hester and Cook. Some of my other favorites are: Effie’s Paper, Kelly Kay Paper, Beverly Jones Paper Traveler, Praximum Press and Curly Wit Designs. I could go on and on! I love that they have the talent to create such cool and beautiful paper.
What trends do you see in wedding stationery?
The trends in wedding stationery are ever evolving. Gold and silver foil printing, hand lettering and watercolors were hot this year. Honestly, what never goes away is a classic wedding invitation suite. My brides tend to stick with traditional choices for their paper. With the announcement of the Pantone Color of the Year for 2016, Rose Quartz and Serenity, it will be interesting to see what will emerge for the coming season.
What items would you tell someone new to the world of stationery to begin with to start their personal collection? Why?
When someone visits paperKuts studio and they are ‘fresh’ to the world of paper, I first inquire about them–their likes/dislikes–to try and find what their personal style is. Normally, they want something that reflects their lifestyle. My suggestion is always something personalized in a flat or folded note. One of my favorite collections allows me to personalize paper and a pen for them! That combo is always a success.
What is special about a hand-written note versus an email?
There is nothing better than to receive a hand-written note! It shows that someone took time from their schedule and penned something especially for you. In this age of technology, it is difficult to not use email; we are all guilty, including me! A hand-written note is much more personal. When you’ve received a note from that special someone, there’s nothing like it!
What is your favorite thing about being southern?
Being southern brings a natural friendliness. I love that.
What is your favorite southern entrees or sides? Why?
Enjoying great food is in my top list of things to do. I love fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, turnip or collard greens, sweet potatoes and tea–sweet, of course! I’m not a huge dessert person, but my Mom makes the best banana pudding, hands down.
What is your favorite item or piece of clothing to wear/use while doing business?
When I am at paperKuts studio, my style is casual prep. I normally have on jeans and a sweater or cardigan. I love dresses, especially in the summer. Most days, I wear a small cross pendant because I am truly grateful for every moment and opportunity.
Kimberly is living her passion while her passion is making her living! Where the two come together, we live in joy! Kudos for the labor, focus, sacrifice and sheer determination For the journey and Congratulations! You are an inspiration to young African-American women everywhere! On second thought…no…you are an inspiration to all entrepreneurially minded persons regardless of the categories that attempt to describe us!