Behind the Stationery: E. Frances Paper

In honor of family, these three sweet ladies started the beloved E. Frances Paper. Sharing their beginnings story and how they collectively create as a team and family, Ali, Jenni, and Pippi are here to divulge their experiences with us on this installment of Behind the Stationery! –Megan

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

E. Frances Paper! It’s still fun just writing it, this real dream come true to work every day and run a business with your sisters. Well, we are technically two sisters and a cousin, but we’ve been so close the term “sisters” has always seemed more appropriate. (We carried our little Pip for so long her parents had legit concerns about her learning to walk.) We’re sure it’s a common feeling among those who have also started their own businesses… some days you have to give a little pinch to remind yourself you’re not just playing office… it’s all real!

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

It was never a stretch for Ali, our Creative Director, to enter the world of stationery. As far as we can remember, no piece of paper was safe from her grip. Our childhood soundtrack was one of scissors, tape and the crinkle of paper. We’ve seen entire boxes of tissues turn into parades, rolls of tape into paper fashion shows. Our parents have graciously lived through decades of homemade everything, especially cards. She grew into the world of fashion illustration, graphic design, and eventually her own design business, but we have always tried to think of the best way to exploit her talents. Eventually, it seemed cards were the perfect fit for her artwork and illustrations. A weekend in LA for Katie Hunt’s Paper Camp, and an early mentorship from Carina Murray (Queen of Crow & Canary) opened the door to the industry through which she skipped forward and never looked back.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Our factory is currently located in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s hilarious to look back on our past offices: from Ali’s guest room (“Dad, seriously just walk between Holiday and Birthday, the bed is in there on the left”), to an attic, to a basement, and we’ll never forget the storage unit where the lights went out every 90 seconds. The building we’re in now is an old Bubble Gum Factory built in 1912 which we love, because it was also run by women! We are happy to carry on the girl boss tradition. The gum produced was sent to soldiers during during WWI. It’s cool to be an all-women team in the same factory space. They did gum wrappers; we do cello sleeves. It’s basically the same thing.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

E. Frances is named for our Grandmothers, Elizabeth and Frances, who must be looking down on us and sending us the gifts from heaven that are our employees. We currently have three full time employees and two to three part-time stuffers we call the Pit Crew. To trust your entire company to girls you actually want to be around every day is a gift. Also, it’s a special atmosphere to work with all girls! Aside from when our favorite UPS guy Joe comes in each day, it’s a free atmosphere to discuss facial hair, coconut oil for everything, and wayward toddlers. The stationery industry in general is one that builds each other up. We’ve been grateful to find how open and helpful other stationers have been, both with advice and support. It’s really a beautiful thing.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

It definitely takes all three of us to come up with our product ideas. We always say we each have a third of a brain and it only works when we put them all together. The artistic third is Ali, amazing combo of brilliant artist and wicked paper dork. We try to balance our designs between beautiful and sweet and happy. We want our products to always feel positive. It seems easy to veer off in new directions, so to stay true to E. Frances, every product has to pass a little test we’ve created in order for us to print it. Sometimes it’s tempting to do something we think will sell well, but if all three of us don’t want to buy it ourselves, it gets the boot.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Ali does all the artwork in large, hand-painted watercolors, then scans them in to add text and get print ready. Everything is offset printed and foil stamped. Years ago when we started we were told that ‘watercolor’ has an old-fashioned connotation, but we believed in Ali’s modern, washy look. Today we see a lot of gorgeous watercolors out there, which is awesome. It’s not just a cliché – believe in yourself.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Along with our signature watercolor washes, we have our unique illustrated pieces. Pip and Jenni love coming up with new ideas and sending them to Ali. “Can you just draw a chicken who’s nervous, maybe a little shady, but cute and perfectly chubs?”

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

A typical day is…Ha! Nonexistent! Our days are constantly changing and in motion. Most days are spent fulfilling orders, packaging raw goods, organizing inventory, and lately, planning for the National Stationery Show this May (Should we change hotels this year in order to be closer to Whole Foods?). Aside from the painting, Ali is busy re-designing our website, sourcing everything, trying to be clever for social media, and keeping the wheels of new design ideas spinning. Pippi, with her insane talent of being able to do 21 things at once, manages the daily office, works with the bookkeeper, and usually has her leg up doing a barre exercise all while constantly on the phone with customers and reps. Jenni is presently on maternity leave so she spends most of her time ‘doing milkins,’ as her three-year-old would say. And the whole office runs on jelly beans.

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

There seem to be lessons and struggles on almost a daily basis. How many cards to order? How will we know which ones will sell better than others? Which of the kabillion shelves from Uline do we choose? Do we seriously need to actually count physical inventory again? What is girth? It’s a constant potpourri of unknowns and a lot of (we hope educated) guessing. But we’ve learned that guessing is an intrinsic part of it. Sometimes we’re very wrong, but you have to go for it. There has also been a lot of learning, and then then more learning on top of that! Balance sheets and budgets and bonus structures, oh my! We have made a lot of mistakes along the way but it turns out our moms were always right: You learn the most from the mistakes. There has definitely been a learning curve but we have truly enjoyed all of it. Ok… most of it. :)

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

We want to grow bigger and bigger. We want to own a forklift one day and laugh at how excited we were when we bought a dolly and cheered we’ve made it! It’s a very challenging and fun dream to be living. We are grateful to be doing what we do – working hard alongside one another and our amazing crew, having our products in stores across the country and overseas, making new friends in the industry, and learning how to run a real business and say, “Whaaaattt?! We built that!”

Behind the Stationery: E.Frances Paper / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Thanks to Nole and Megan for letting us wax on about our sweet little company. We’d love to stay in touch with you through Instagram!

xo Ali, Jenni & Pippi

Photos by Maaike Bernstrom.

Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery feature? Shoot me an email at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com.

Seasonal Stationery: Valentine’s Day, Part 4

Yay February! I’ll honestly take almost anything over January, even if it is a rather odd short month with an occasional extra day. The days are getting longer and there’s a promise of spring – even if we still have plenty of snow on the ground. And whether you’re planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day or Galentine’s Day (or both!), there’s definitely love in the air these days! Luckily we’ve got just enough time to squeeze in one final Valentine’s Day card round up. And in case you missed them, you can find my previous round ups right here – and even more in the Market List right here!

Valentine's Day Card Round Up / Oh So Beautiful Paper

1. Quill & Fox

2. Evermore Paper Co.

3. Richie Design

4. Wild Ink Press

5. Fat Bunny Press

6. Thimblepress

7. Little Low

8. Tack and Ward

9. Belle & Union

10. Meeschmosh

p.s. More Valentine’s Day card round ups right here!

Seasonal Stationery: Valentine’s Day Cards, Part 3

Happy Monday everyone! We’re still VERY much snowed in after getting almost two feet of snow over the weekend, and I’m already starting to get a bit stir crazy after so many days inside (and the kiddos out of school!). So today I thought I’d start the week off with a big dose of happy in the form of Valentine’s Day cards! This round up is full of some gorgeous copper and gold foil, hand lettering and hand painted elements, and food and gems – even enameled pins! And in case you missed them, you can find my previous round ups right here!

Valentine's Day Card Round Up / Oh So Beautiful Paper

1. A gorgeous card from In The Daylight with coper foil on black paper

2. This card from Near Modern Disaster is perfect for the occasion

3. Send this XO pin and post card from The Good Twin to your bestie – the enameled pins make a sweet gift!

4. I love the subtle desert vibes and matte gold foil in this card from Antiquaria

5. Obsessed with this gold foil gem card from BerinMade London

6. Truth from The Paper Cub

7. For all the donut lovers out there from Hello Small World

8. Sweet and beautiful simplicity in this card from E.Frances Paper with hand painted watercolor details and copper foil text

9. This card from Farewell Paperie tells it like it is!

10. Such a sweet card from People I’ve Loved

p.s. More Valentine’s Day card round ups right here!

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! And welcome to my first Friday round up of the New Year! It feels nice to be back in a regular schedule and sharing some favorite links of the week with all of you. In fact, the last time I did one of these posts we had just embarked on the renovation of our home’s only full bathroom. And I’m happy to report that, a month later, our bathroom is finally done! It took sooooo much longer than I had originally anticipated and we still have a few finishing touches to take care of, but I can’t wait to share it with you! It’s seriously the most amazing transformation. But in the meantime…

Send More Love / In The Daylight via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Image via In The Daylight

…a few links for your weekend!

This week on Oh So Beautiful Paper:

That’s it for me this week! Stay tuned for another mocktail recipe this afternoon – we’ll be doing one each week for the rest of the month! If you missed it, last week’s Mock Mai Tai recipe was SO good! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday! xoxo

Seasonal Stationery: Valentine’s Day Cards, Part 1

I tend to view Valentine’s Day as less of a romantic occasion and more as a general celebration of love all around. Besties, family members, kids, and even work colleagues are all just as deserving of a Valentine’s Day card as spouses, partners, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Because we can always use a little bit more love, right? I have a few friends that actually send annual Valentine’s Day cards instead of holiday cards and I love that idea SO much! It’s a wonderful bright spot in post-holidays winter dreariness to find a cheerful Valentine’s Day card in my mailbox. Here are a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day Cards this year!

Seasonal Stationery: Valentine's Day Card Round Up / Oh So Beautiful Paper

1. Odd Daughter

2. Sycamore Street Press

3. Idlewild Co.

4. Our Heiday

5. Hennel Paper Co.

6. Hello!Lucky

7. Cardtorial

8. Moglea

9. Dahlia Press

10. Bespoke Letterpress

11. Sugar Paper

12. Ladyfingers Letterpress