Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

The inspiration on Opinion9 is just overflowing this week! Today, we’re talking about the witty + gritty bits about running a colourful business. Melinda and Meredith work together, and they make some amazing cards, prints, cases and more..all with their statement colour and witty vibe.

I especially love the way they incorporate thoughts, their play on words and trends (Marble-ous?), and vibrant colours (especially watercolour! My fave!) in their work.

Aptly named..The Witty Gritty Paper Co. Let’s hear what they have to say!

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! We’re Meredith & Melinda Preve, the mother/ daughter designers behind the stationery line: The Witty Gritty Paper Co. We are both self-taught artists, who run our business from our cozy studio in Buffalo, NY.

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

I love your witty and colourful work! How did The Witty Gritty Paper Co start?

Well, we’ve both always shared a mutual love for words, paper and humor… especially for humor! Last autumn, we were just chatting over a cup of coffee, both coming to a pass in our professional lives and all of these loves started to come up in conversation. Suddenly a major, fluorescent-level lightbulb went off in our heads. “Hey! Maybe we could make a living making people laugh!” Right from the beginning, we knew we wanted to be different than all of the other card and print companies out there; we wanted our products to be designed by hand, not by software. Being a colorful brand was also a must from the first, because let’s face it, bright colors just make people happy! The next few months following were kind of a blur. Even though we were a little gun-shy at first (neither of us had much experience with commercial printing,) we managed to design 24 original pieces for our debut collection, design our website, and begin to grow our social media, all within half a year. As they say, “The dream is free, but the hustle is sold separately!”

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

What inspires you both the most in your creative process?

For me (Meredith, the daughter), inspiration primarily comes from my new experiences. Whenever I go to a museum, restaurant or even a state park, I always spend the car ride home wondering how many of the things I saw I would be able to paint with my watercolors. I imagine the different layers and washes it would take to recreate it and before long, a new piece is just bursting with urgency in my mind. Usually in my process, first comes the subject and then the witty words follow suit. For my mom, it’s the opposite. She starts with the clever quips that just pop into her head and then she molds them from lots of sketches to final product!

 Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

The fact that you are a mother-daughter duo working together is really inspiring. How does it feel working together as a team? Has it gotten you even closer?

Thank you! We sort of act as each other’s filter because we have so many complementary strengths and weaknesses. One of the things we enjoy most about creating our line is the difference in our generational perspectives that comes out in our products. We love the idea that we can appeal to a diverse type of market, filled with other mothers and daughters who have always been on the hunt for appropriate correspondences for all of the different people in their lives! There are definitely days where we struggle a bit with harmonizing our different styles, but overall I would say it has only made our relationship stronger!

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

(Love their cheery space!)

How do you balance your creative thought while maintaining a business approach when it comes to selling your art?

I think it’s always going to be a challenge for anyone who makes things to take the pure, right-brain joy of creating and try to keep it alive and healthy while they navigate through the pitfalls of small business. Being a pushy sales-person or staring blankly at market research all day just doesn’t come naturally to most creatives. We’ve found that the best way to stay balanced is to carve out time for  simple, yet special novelties. For example, we’ll take a drive together in the country with the music blasting, or visit a new farmer’s market and cook a meal together. Basically, we make sure to still do things together (and apart) that don’t revolve around our business. Some of our best ideas have come to us in the moments when we stopped trying to chase them down.

 Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

What are your favourite movie(s), book(s) and colour(s)? 

Mine would be “Titanic” (I won’t let go, Jack!,) the Matrix series (because I’m kind of a closet, science-fiction nerd,) and all romantic comedies involving Meg Ryan. For favorite book it’s got to be “The Catcher In The Rye”, and it changes all the time, but right now my fave color is soft peach. Mom’s picks: “Finding Nemo,” anything by Erma Bombeck and periwinkle blue.

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

I adore your yappy dog, Gizmo! In what doggy way does he contribute to your creative process :)? 

Well, actually he is a she, but you wouldn’t know it by her lack of ladylike manners! The constant barking keeps the mailman on his toes and on the days when the internet won’t cooperate, the envelopes are like 1,000 miles away stuck in Montana, and my favorite pen has run out of ink, it’s a blessing to have her adorable little face around!

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

(Gizmo actually looks pretty calm here! ^ Taking a break, maybe? )

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

The fact that you combined your different artistic talents- Melinda’s doodling and Meredith’s watercolour- is lovely to see. At that time, what were your initial thoughts about starting a business? 

Before Witty Gritty, we had never combined our artistic talents. But, when we started to realize that our different art mediums could be connected through words, a business to sell them through just seemed like a natural next step. Originally, I was only designing the art prints and my mom was only designing the greeting cards. By our second collection, we had discovered through trial and error that our brand was most cohesive when we both had a part in every product.

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

Where do you see yourselves in a few years?

That’s a loaded question! Part of us sees ourselves branching out into a brick & mortar location, and another part sees the company growing to have a big, more behind-the-scenes style wholesale domain. It’s my personal aspiration to develop our Instagram presence into one of the most entertaining and widely known accounts on the platform (one of my many lofty goals!) One thing’s for sure; we will continue to design more out-of-the-box paper products in the near future. Not to give too much away, but there will be hilarious Post-it notes involved.

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

How did you come up with your brand name?

This may sound uninspired, but it just came to me one day. And the second it popped into my head, I knew we had to do it, because that was too awesome of a name to not use for something!

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day on your life?

On account of pesky day-jobs and chores, most of our work gets done on nights and weekends. You will often find us starting out the day by discussing business over brunch. Then we split up for our individual tasks. I’m usually painting like a watercolor madwoman, answering e-mails, pitching to retailers and editors, and filming and shooting content for our social media channels. Meanwhile, mom will be busy balancing out the books, sketching new ideas, or tracking down leads on the marketing and production fronts. We break a lot for coffee. Also for C.S.I.

Inspiration from The Witty Gritty Paper Co via ww.opinion9.com

Do you have any advice for people starting their own business and making it work?

Work hard. Work really, really hard. Don’t be discouraged by any expectation that wasn’t fulfilled when you thought it would be.

Some things will work, others won’t. Success belongs to the people who see the value in both outcomes. There will be a lot of things that won’t make sense to you; a lot of things that will make you reconsider your worth (and your sanity.) But the great part is, if you can make it through the not-so-glamorous moments, you will be part of the small group of people in the world that get to do what they love more than anything else for a living, and that, my friends, is priceless.

Thanks Melinda + Meredith for this little glimpse into The Witty Gritty Paper Co! Here’s to your witty + gritty success!

You can find more on The Witty Gritty Paper Co here:

Website: www.thewittygrittypaperco.com

Instagram: @thewittygrittypaperco

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A Paper Flower Journey with Julie

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

I’m happy to write this: another wonderful feature right here, on Opinion9! Today, it’s about paper floristry, as Julie herself puts it.  I always have had a high regard for multi-taskers, and Julie sure is one of them-she makes beautiful paper flowers, and she also writes a blog with her two sisters!

It’s lovely to see that she makes time for herself by crafting flowers, and she also works with family on her blog A Life Curated.

Read on to hear what she has to say.

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

Please tell me a little bit about yourself.

Hi there, this is Julie! I’ve always loved arts and craft, but it was only this year that I started spending more time on my creative interests. My creative milestones this year are launching a blog with my sisters called A Life Curated (@alifecuratedofficial) and starting an Instagram account Paper Play Design (@paperplay_design) where I document my paper flower journey.

Aside from my creative interests, I love my coffee, travelling and diving.

What is your creative process like?

I wish I could say I’m very methodical in my creative process but what really happens is that I wake up each day and think…”Okay, what flower am I going to make today?”

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

What are the things that inspire you the most?

Seeing other creatives turn their talents into a career inspires me. It reminds me that everyone is different and that this world needs creative people!

How did you get started with crafting flowers? What keeps you motivated?

I remember my very first flower was when I was 12 years old. My childhood friend and I used to spend school holidays making all sorts of arts and craft things. One day, we made a bunch of flowers for my mum from toilet paper! It wasn’t until this year (19 years later!) that I decided to make paper flowers again for my mum for Mother’s day. That’s really when it started and I was hooked!

My family and friends keep me motivated. Everyone has been very encouraging of my creative pursuits and it really keeps me going.

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

(Julie’s desk where she makes her beautiful floral creations!)

What would your ideal day be like?

I love my morning routines so every day I wake up, swirl my coconut oil for 20 minutes (yes, this actually works!) while I potter around the house and clean up. Then I drink my warm lemon water, eat breakfast, buy my morning coffee, turn on my music and then I sit down to start crafting.

How good my day is often depends on how good my flowers end up looking. I’m extra happy if I can manage to take a good photo of my end product so that I can share it with my fellow Instagrammers!

Wednesdays are one of my favourite days of the week because that’s when my sisters and I chat over skype about our blog (amongst other silly things which usually ends in hysterical laughter).

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

In the midst of creativity and life, how do you keep yourself focused?

I’ve got some key milestones this year related to Paper Play Design which I’m very excited about. I’ll share more on my Instagram account in the next couple of months, so stay tuned! So working towards these goals keep me focused.

What’s the part in your creative process that makes you the happiest?

I try really hard at coming up with my own flower templates so I am extra proud when I can work it out!

Just for fun: what’s your favourite animal and flower and why?

I love French bulldogs! I especially love Stella, the French bulldog from Modern Family.

As for favourite flower, this changes nearly every two days because I constantly feel like I’m discovering new flowers when I’m going through Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration. Today, I love poppies.

A Paper Flower Journey with Julie via www..opinion9.com

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Thank you, Julie, for showing us a glimpse in your creative process! Wishing you all the best in all your future endeavours!

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Find Julie here:

Follow Julie’s instagram to keep up to date with her paper flower journey: (@paperplay_design)

Read her blog: www.alifecurated.com.au

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Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Hello! I got the chance to ask Ashley Henderson of Zella Woods some questions about her creative work- and boy, was I blown away by the passion and creativity with which she handles her business. I also found it intriguing that each piece of jewelry she crafts holds a different message- to different people and also has a special significance in Ashley’s creative process. Read on to discover the world that is Zella Woods- and thank you, Ashley, for such interesting and honest answers!

 Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Please tell me a little bit about yourself. 

I am Ashley Henderson – a Southern California native, living and loving in Austin, Texas. I am the lucky wife to one very selfless husband, the mommy to one very strong-willed 4-year-old daughter, and the owner // designer // maker behind Zella Woods Designs (zellawoods.com).

I have been fortunate to travel a lot at a young age and even live abroad in college. However, the list of places I want to go and see gets longer every day. This exposure to travel has heavily influenced the way I see things creatively and is the foundation behind my jewelry designs. I am inspired by foreign cultures and their craft, I tend to love everything vintage and I am a firm believer in supporting handmade makers as often as possible. The same heart that lives in them lives in me.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

How do you maintain the balance between regular life and your work?

I may not always get this part just right, but I sure try. One of the things I miss about working in an office is the idea of checking in at 9am and checking out at 5pm. When you’re the boss and the only one behind the business that just doesn’t happen. It’s really hard to turn work off when it’s in your home and all on your shoulders.

But it’s also really great to be the only one making decisions, getting to do things your own way and not having to answer to anyone else. So it’s a learning process. I have had to learn to identify over the years when work is consuming my every thought and unplug. Take healthy breaks – whether it’s a real lunch break or a week off. I’ve learned a better routine of setting boundaries. It helps too when kids get to school age because it sets a designated work window.

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What was the hardest part while starting your business?

The hardest part for me is, and always has been, talking about myself. Promoting what I make and myself doesn’t come natural to me. It’s very stressful, personally, to contact bloggers or shops and ask them to feature / carry my work. It’s something I’m still not great at I’d say, but something I have definitely worked hard to improve on over the last year specifically and it’s paying off.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

 

What makes you the happiest in your creative process?

The passion behind my business is rooted in love – my love for family, love for travel, love for design, and above all love for God.

My grandmother had passed away before I was born, but she has always been with me. She is Zella Woods – the original inspiration and namesake for Zella Woods Designs. She was an immaculate lady in a generation that valued the idea of always looking and wearing your best, even if you spent your days in the kitchen at home. Seeing her in pictures throughout the 1950-60’s is how I’ve developed a nostalgia for all things mid-century vintage. When I work to salvage pieces of jewelry from that time period, or design new items using original parts from that era, it reminds me of her and the affinity you feel for family.

When I use materials ethically sourced from other countries, it reminds me of the whimsy and naivety when being totally immersed in a foreign place. Somewhere totally unknown, where the language isn’t understood and the culture are beyond my wildest imagination. That sense of being totally outside my comfort level; that’s where true adventure lies, and you never forget the feeling.

When my daughter came along, she was named after her great grandmother too. That sparked a totally new chapter of creativity. Now when I make custom pieces for mommies that remind them of their littles, it tugs at my heart. When I have women fighting cancer that order custom bracelets with phrases of affirmation or words of strength, that stuff means so much more than the words I inscribe. These things speak so deeply to my soul and the purpose God has put on my heart to fulfill with my hands.

My ultimate hope is to live a quiet life and work with my hands to make jewelry that people treasure like memories – timeless pieces that speak to the individual rather than the masses.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Could you give us a glimpse in a typical day at work?

I feel like my average day never has a typical rhythm. Sometimes it starts with a tea party and mommy duties before replying to emails and getting my social media game on. Other days it’s straight into the grind – making product, fulfilling orders, sketching new design ideas and photographing product for the website. No two days are ever the same. Which is how I like it. One of my favorite parts about my job is that I can flex my schedule around my daughters needs. If she wants to play dress up or cowboys and indians around the backyard for an hour, I can press pause on work and soak up those memories. Other times she’s right there beside me pretending to make jewelry and learning to use my tools. It’s a beautiful thing to see her creativity blossom behind what I call work. That alone makes my heart full most days.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

What qualities are needed to keep up and also enjoy running a creative business? 

Determination. It’s a must. There are days where things are totally overwhelming. I’ve heard myself saying I just can’t do this anymore and then I remind myself why I do what I do – I love it. My husband helps remind me of that all the time to, it’s impossible without support.

When you make something you love into work, you have to be ready to fight for it when things get hard. If I hear myself saying something that I wouldn’t want my daughter telling herself (like “I’m not good enough” or “I’m not as good as so-and-so with 50k followers”) I shut it down, immediately. I dive into the Bible or a devotional and refocus. God has me right where I am supposed to be. I’m not going to doubt that for a second more than I’d allow her too. You have to have a strong conviction that this is what you were made for and know what will keep pointing you back to that truth so that when times get tough you can turn to that for encouragement and refuge.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Where do you see yourself in a few years? 

We have another little one on the way as of 2016. Knowing there will be two kids calling me mommy means work will have to look a little different. For years I have wanted to incorporate the craft of other artisans around the world in impoverished regions, and this is the year I want to start making that a reality for Zella Woods. I’m not exactly sure what that will look like yet, but I know God will lead us. In the past I have featured some fair-trade items handcrafted in India where a portion of the proceeds went back to orphan care in that region. Something along those lines is where I’d like to see the business grow- in a direction that is still featuring my own original designs in collaboration with the traditional craft of other artisans that will empower and enable them to thrive.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

What is the main inspiration behind your lettering engraved on your jewelry pieces?

Scripture most often inspires them. Every time I open the Bible, work through a group study or listen to a sermon, I’m sketching something and taking notes. The word of God never fails to open new chambers of my heart, breath new life into my weariness or humble me in awe of how He loves us. It’s endless inspiration.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

How long has jewelry making been your hobby? How did you think you could convert your hobby into a business?

I had made my own jewelry for ages. I never thought about making a business out of it until I got married. I had made pretty much everything for our wedding – from the table numbers and napkins, every announcement, invite and program, to bridesmaid accessories and my own feather and rhinestone hair piece. I had fun doing it all. But when my husband heard how many compliments we got he started nudging me into thinking of it as a business. Plus I hated my office job at the time and thought very seriously that a piece of my soul may die if I stayed there any longer, so when I had Zella it was time to quit and dive in head first to small business ownership.

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Just for fun: What are your favourite colour, flower and animal? Do you think you’ll incorporate other elements in your jewelry style like these favourites?

My favorite color is impossible. If we are talking clothes, it’s neutrals like navy, white or black. If we are talking strictly jewelry it’s turquoise – every single time. I’m obsessed with genuine turquoise. It’s stunning and wears well with everything.

Favorite flowers would be peonies, hands down. And favorite animal is kind of tough. I’d say the wildest animal I have seen in it’s natural habitat (that literally took my breath away) would definitely be the giraffe. They have a grace about them that you would never expect from this rather awkward looking animal. I guess I can relate to that somehow, always feeling like a rather awkward human but being told by others I have a strong sense of style and air of confidence that I don’t necessarily see in myself. If that makes any sense 😉

My favorite colors will always play a role in my designs. They’ll change over time, no doubt. But color is a great source of creative inspiration in my work. As for my favorite flower and animal, outside of the way they inspire my aesthetic senses, I’m not sure I see them in future jewelry designs of mine. But you never know.

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

I adore your clean workspace- the combination of white and wood is so clean and refreshing! How do you keep it clean and organized?

I clean it up like that after I’m done making orders. Every time. Because it feels so much better walking in to a clean slate. When I’m in the midst of making stuff though it’s pretty much covered in tools and supplies. Haha!

I think the best advice for organizing a workspace is start with the basics. My dad and I built that workbench together. I knew I needed a standing height work surface so we started with that. All the cabinets, desktop and storage slowly came piece by piece after that, depending on my needs as I learned to run things like a business and grew. Then it’s just a matter of tweaking things here and there to make stuff as accessible and organized as possible.

 Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

A lot of the components in my space are from Ikea. They’re mostly solid wood pieces that will last a long time and are easy to customize. The white cabinets under my desk are my favorite because they are shallow drawer storage, which is essential for maximizing a small space!

Hope that helps! Thanks for complimenting my space 🙂

Thanks Ashley for this amazing interview! It’s very inspiring to see people shape their vision of something so intangible at first, to something so wonderful.

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Inspiration from Ashley of Zella Woods via www.opinion9.com

 

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