Creative Spotlight: Laura from Paper & Honey

For today's edition of Creative Spotlight we are welcoming Laura of Paper & Honey! We first met Laura when she attended a La Petite Bloom Workshop and have followed her journey in paper ever since. Laura is such an inspiration for anyone who works a boring 9-5 but dreams of following their passions. Read below to hear more about how Paper & Honey was born and what inspires Laura these days! 

When did you start your business?

Whew! To bring it way back to 2012, Paper & Honey was an idea that popped up in my head when I was working full time as a designer for a broker / dealer. I was working 9-5 in a basement cubicle of an IT department, and when I wasn’t designing for older male realtors (dream client, right?), I was reading design blogs and soaking in every entrepreneurial nugget I could get. I knew I wanted to call my own shots, create the work *I* wanted to create, and make a life for myself, and I knew I was capable. Everything was figure-out-able.

Back then, I was freelancing on the side and designing pretty much anything that anyone would pay me for. Your nephew’s firetruck-themed birthday invitations? You bet. Your aunt’s sells patchouli and needs t-shirts? You got it, I guess. Branding, websites, stationery, t-shirts, I did it all. I knew “I’ll do whatever” wasn’t exactly a fantastic business model, and that I wanted to be the expert at ONE thing than “meh” at a bunch of different things. So I picked the thing that tugged at my heart in the most magical way — wedding stationery — and decided to narrow my focus exponentially.

It took two years and a lot of trial and error, but Paper & Honey officially launched in January of 2014 and I’ve been happily designing for brides ever since!

Where does your passion stem from?

I’ve always been creatively inclined! When you’re a kid and say you want to be a firefighter, teacher, mad scientist, whatever when you grow up, mine has been “artist” since day one. I went to school for graphic design and graduated with a fine arts degree, and feel super fortunate to have that higher education in my field (and be putting my degree to good use!). In college I always thought I’d be in something like branding or advertising, but the dreamiest thought to me was always paper. I love the tangibility of it. They’re actual keepsakes, you know? My favorite classes were printmaking, collage, and design classes that left me with a physical object I could keep. There’s just something so romantic about paper!

If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice what would it be? (business, social media, etc.)

“Good for her! Not for me.”

Amy Poehler said it best. Before I had a crystal-clear vision of what I wanted for my life and business, social media was very influential on how I perceived what my future *should* look like. I saw friends launching huge projects, hosting conferences and workshops, building their “empires,” and I thought that’s what I needed to be focusing on, too. Were any of those things I was necessarily even interested in? Not really. But they were so happy and successful (or at least appeared to be), that I thought if I wanted to be happy and successful, that was the path to take. Even if I didn’t enjoy it.

It took a couple years being in business, but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m able to more fully comprehend my actual wants and needs. Which seems so basic, right? But that’s kind of a big deal, for me at least — having the insight to what I REALLY want to do with this one precious life I have, and being able to put my head down and get the work done. All those big things she’s doing? Good for her! But not for me.  

What is one way you stay inspired outside of your industry/field?

What a great question! I really love people watching, especially couples. What are these strangers doing? What is their life together like? What inspires them? What would their invitation look like? Often when I’m designing for myself, my husband Max and I will make up fake couples and flesh out their stories and histories to better understand them.

But because that probably didn’t answer the question because it’s still in my industry… I really love watching documentaries! I love learning about things I have zero previous knowledge of. Museums are endlessly inspiring, too — my favorite are natural history museums. The Denver Museum of Nature & Science gems and minerals exhibition is unbelievable. I went in 2015 and think about it ALL the time! I get home and feel so inspired and want to design all kinds of things.  

Favorite project AND most challenging project?

Oh man, how to pick a favorite project? I have so many! I have a bucket list of designs I want to create, suites I want to make inspired by a whole host of things, and materials I want to work with. I was able to knock one off that list last year when I screen-printed an invitation on a linen napkin. It was just so fun I couldn’t stand it. My mom sewed the napkins to what I needed, too, and her involvement made it all the more special!

Our most challenging project is super recent and not client-related. We’re turning Paper & Honey from a design studio to a design-and-print shop! In early February we purchased a 1930s printing press — she’s a 2200 pound cast-iron beauty. To accommodate her and everything that goes into this business shift, we’re outfitting our garage into a print shop! There’s a marvelous amount of work and planning that’s going into it (Max is in the ceiling installing insulation as I type this), but it’s been a dream of mine for a long time. A super far-off, never-thought-it-would-be-realistic dream. That’s coming true! I feel super grateful. This transition will allow me to take over the production and have total control over my product and work. By only producing heirloom quality work, I’ll be able to take on projects and clients that are total DREAM projects and clients. And that’s why we get into this whole entrepreneurial thing, right?

Do you find yourself drawn to one medium over the other?

Yes! My very favorite suites are almost always those that are produced using fine printing methods, particularly letterpress and foil stamping. These not only give the paper a tactile quality (there’s just something so delicious about running your fingers over a letterpressed impression), but it elevates the suite to something heirloom-worthy. And, I mean, the first printing press was invented in the 1400s. A letterpressed wedding suite utilizes the same technique used for hundreds of years! How cool is that? Add that to the fact that each piece is printed by hand, and I think you can’t get much more romantic.

Three favorite things RIGHT now: 

  1. Hot yoga! My husband and I began going last year as a way to combat the gloomy winter months here in Michigan. It’s hard. Like super hard. But man, there’s no better feeling than leaving a class and having that major endorphin rush! I can tell I’m getting stronger and it’s a big deal for me!

  2. My favorite nonfiction right now is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I’m on my second read through and my copy is all sorts of highlighted and dogeared — every other sentence gives me some kind of profound revelation. My favorite? “Do whatever brings you to life. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart. The rest will take care of itself.”

  3. I got an electric blanket for Christmas and keep telling Max it’s my Most Prized Possession. It’s seriously the best thing ever for cold Michigan winters! I am ALL cozy, ALL the time.

Click here to register for La Petite Bloom: The Styled Wedding Shoot in Battle Creek, Michigan where Laura will be attending and creating an invitation suite for one of the three styled wedding shoots!

Ashley SlaterComment