If you attended either either of the two National Stationery Shows that occurred during the 2019 calendar year, it would have been nearly impossible to miss the bright and brilliant Paper Curator booth during your wanderings. It’s pretty clear upon first sight that you’ve arrived somewhere demanding immediate closer examination!

The Paper Curator is the brainchild of Owner + Designer Cecily Moore. I have to confess to being enamored enough with her young brand that its presence is all over our very first Stationery Trends of the new decade, that is our Winter 2020 issue! (It’s currently either mailing or at the printer, so that’s all I’m saying for now).

Starting any business is akin to rolling the dice, so I’ve found that there is a bit of a gambler housed within each maker. Running a brand necessitates many smaller rolls of the dice as options for trade shows, reps and so on are settled upon, so in this post in addition to asking Cecily about her brand and inspiration, I wanted to interview her about what made her select NSS, what she found there—and what she’s looking forward to as she returns to its aisles next February!

Photograph Courtesy Liz Allen

SS: Obviously you are all about pattern and color! What inspires you as you create your work?

CM: I do love pattern and color—they’re some of my very first loves! I’m also very drawn to modern art, architecture, and design (specifically graphic, interior, and fashion design). When painting and designing, I always aim to pull inspiration from my everyday life. Being in such a busy place as NYC has allowed me a constant stream of inspiration within all of my passions. From the graphic subway advertisements, to new high rises being built, and a spontaneous trip to MOMA, I’m never lacking a strike of inspiration when I need to design a new collection. For pattern inspiration specifically, I love studying interior design and textiles such as wallpapers, pillows, and furniture. These studies inform my sensibilities when I create a new collection, and I’m very intentional about how my patterns will sit together in terms of color, shape, and scale—something that can be a tricky balancing act each season!  

SS: Can you take me through any recent releases?

CM: This past August I released a whole slew of new items, both in categories I previously offered, as well as a few new categories that I’m thrilled about. Before August’s release, I offered cards, boxed sets, art prints, gift wrap, tags, and ribbons, as well as notebooks, planners, pencil cases, scrapbooking kits, and stamps.

In August I expanded my gift selection to include wallets and zippered pouches (in addition to the pencil cases I offered previously), which really rounded out the pouch size offerings to feel like a complete set. They’re perfect for gifting, and their different sizes offer various price points so buyers and customers alike can decide what works best for them. It’s been great to see the reaction of the new sizes both at the August NSS and online since then!

I also added to my craft/planner offerings with the introduction of sticker sheets. They’re designed to work perfectly with our planners, but since they’re durable and versatile in design, they can work anywhere. In fact I use our holiday tracker stickers on my wall calendar in the studio, and it’s been a blast seeing them daily when I check in on deadlines.

I’ll have a ton of new offerings at NSS in February 2020 where I’ll launch a brand new collection including a new take on our zippered pouches.

SS: You are among the mavericks to exhibit at the first ever winter and summer NSSs! Please tell me about your booths, locations & experiences.

CM: I had a blast exhibiting at the National Stationery Show twice this past year. I had been dreaming about exhibiting at the National Stationery Show for a few years prior—eagerly following the Instagram hashtags and listening to podcasts about the show. 2019 felt like the best time to go after my dreams after taking Proof to Product’s Paper Camp E-Course in Fall 2018. With all that preparation, I knew I was ready to launch the wholesale arm of my business, and I thought NSS was the best way to do that.

I spent the months prior to the show building my booth (with a hefty side of help from my mom and her basement space), and preparing my collection and sales catalogs for wholesale production. I chose to do a 5’ x 10’ booth both in February and August and it was the perfect size to keep my very tactile products close to passersby.

I absolutely loved designing my booth from scratch, and I aimed to make it my own little storefront for the four days of the show. When I expanded my line in August we worked hard to keep the products not only beautifully displayed, but also to showcase the best of what I had to offer, which meant shifting some things around for the second show of the year. My locations at both shows ended up being spectacular—near the front and easy to find.

I think with my vibrant colors and offerings, my booth was able to snag the interest of buyers browsing the aisles, and traffic was exhilarating throughout the show. It was always a joy to talk to buyers who ‘got’ my products and to be able to explain the quality and handmade nature of my products in person. Most days were a blur because of the frenzy of foot traffic, but I made sure to take meticulous notes so that I could remember each and every buyer who came through the booth. I felt like making those in person connections was one of the biggest successes and take-aways from the entire show (both in February and in August).

SS: Is your booth size & location changing with the upcoming edition?      

CM: With the elimination of the 5’x10’ size offering in February 2020, we’re switching to a 6’x10’ booth and I’m thrilled to have just as wonderful a setup with this new size. I prefer the depth of a shallow booth as it keeps my products forward toward the aisle and I’ve had very positive responses to my display structure the past two shows. I’m looking forward to keeping the general feeling (bright and fun) of my booth next show and I can’t wait to merchandise it with all the new offerings! My placement in February (Booth # 8135) is a little further back than in past shows but is right near a throughway to the rest of the NSS and NY Now so I’m hopeful it will be a positive experience!

SS: What were your most successful releases at #NSS2019?

CM: At the February National Stationery Show I was blown away with the response to our Slim Notebooks. We received the most positive feedback about the unique size and I was delighted to see that the cover designs that had been most successful for our retail channels —Cindy and Slate—continued to be best sellers throughout the February show. I’ve found that being there in person with their wonderful texture and hand-stitched binding has really helped buyers experience their quality manufacturing. I’m so glad that having an in-person presence at the shows has allowed me to translate that value of my business into sales.

I was also delighted to see great sales of our wrapping paper sheets; our brushstroke and polka dot patterns were stand out sellers!

In August, we released four new notebook cover designs. Our notebooks continued to be the best selling category across the board with continued success from Cindy and Slate and some new favorites, Jane and Becca.

Becca Everyday Notebook
Jane Everyday Notebook
Cindy Everyday Notebook
Slate Slim Notebook

Our cards also did quite well with the stable bestsellers continuing to be our confetti cards, and our new releases in some fresh sympathy categories selling quite well!

I was also honored to win the ‘Best New Product Award’ for the ‘Let’s Celebrate’ Category and the overall ‘Best of Show’ award this past August for our Seafoam Gift Ribbons. I was so glad to see them get such esteemed recognition and some orders of them as well!    

SS: What have been the most valuable connections you have made at NSS?

CM: Being at NSS (as I mentioned) was a dream come true, and I couldn’t have imagined the impact it would have on my business. One of the most impactful connections I was able to make was with other small businesses. When you’re mostly alone in your studio designing, making and schlepping goods to and from the post office, it can feel a bit isolating.

Connecting with other entrepreneurs has given me insights and lasting friendships with people who understand the struggle that running a small business can be. Aside from new stationery friends, the business connections with buyers, licensors, and manufacturers has had significant impact on my growth over the last year. It’s been so incredibly impactful to have buyers whom you’ve lovingly followed on social media for years walk into your booth and react positively to your products! I’ve forged wonderful connections with buyers through exhibiting at NSS, and although I need to be better about sending them updates and emails, I truly cherish the fact that their business has decided to support mine and that is not lost on me when I think about how lucky I am to work with such wonderful stockists!

I’ve also secured some licensing work from exhibiting at NSS. I think it’s wildly exciting to venture into goods that I wouldn’t have the capacity to create on my own. I look forward to sharing more about that next year when everything launches and comes about! 

SS: What are your favorite memories, on and off the show floors? 

CM: There’s so many memories I cherish from the shows this past year. One in particular is the initial facial expression a buyer has when they connect with my aesthetic and their face lights up a little bit extra—that look warms my heart to this day. There’s something so magical about being an artist and creator and seeing when someone connects positively with your work.

One other memory that remains a favorite from both shows is running up and down the aisles chatting with my new found friends during slower times. By having my sister by my side to represent The Paper Curator, I was comfortable stepping away from my booth to forge those wonderful friendships. I can’t wait to see what memories I form next show!

SS: What factors played into your decision to return to NSS?

CM: I’ve decided to return to the National Stationery Show in February 2020 because I’ve felt a tremendous return on my investment. I can’t imagine forging such meaningful connections with buyers and industry professionals without meeting them in person, and the show really allows me to maximize my marketing efforts around a wonderful buying experience. I thought the February show this past year was spectacular in terms of foot traffic, and I hope my new location will really drum up lots of new leads. I love the vibrancy and energy surrounding the show, and I couldn’t imagine sitting this one out.

SS: Is there anything else you’d like to share with TPC readers about #NSS20, or your thoughts on the show generally?

CM: I really hope to see you there 🙂 We’ll have tons of new products — they’re some of my absolute favorite to date — and seeing their hand-crafted quality in person really communicates how special they are. If I haven’t mentioned it enough already, we’ll be in Booth #8135, and look forward to meeting with so many fantastic small and large businesses alike next show.  

Thank you so much, Cecily! So, what are you waiting for? If you haven’t yet registered, get started here.

Did you like this? Share it: