Heirlooms from my family–wedding photos from the ‘40s, the cutest holiday card of my mom and uncle when they were toddlers, my favorite pearl bracelet from my grandma’s jewelry box–are treasures to come across. With so many of our modern day memories being kept on a hard drive, I am ever more attracted to modern day heirlooms that you can treasure forever, without the need of a laptop screen.
In comes Le Papier Studio, which designs and creates charming pieces that capture the people, pets, and special moments in your life. Owner and designer, Vana Chupp, chats with Mini Mighty Monday on how her silhouette craft has grown into a business below!
A lot of inspiration lining the walls of Vana’s studio! Photo by Kelly Allison Photography.
1. With a background in architecture, how did you become inspired to start Le Papier Studio?
I’ve always had a weakness for good design that is esthetically pleasing to the eye. After graduating with a Masters in Architecture and working in the Architecture field I discovered I was more interested in the design side of it all. With the birth of my first son, Nikolas, I found myself looking for something that I could the commodity of my own home. I freelanced in Architecture for a few years and soon after I decided to open an Etsy shop with mainly stationery and fine art prints. Le Papier Studio started to get popularity and more press about 6 months since I first open that Etsy shop. My son was my main inspiration at starting LPS. I would draw his monthly silhouette as a way to document his growth.
Silhouettes abound, from adorable apple-inspired illustrations, to wearable reminders of your loved ones. Photos by Kelly Allison Photography.
2. Your work is so personal to each individual, especially with the custom silhouettes. When doing custom work, how do you make each client feel special and happy?
I feel they already have a happy feeling ordering from me. My work reflects the kind of person I am. Through my work I try to treasure the special, happy moments in life. When I start to work on a custom silhouette I focus my skill and attention to capturing the beauty and essence on each person. Keeping in mind that I am not just doing a custom silhouette but a piece of heirloom they will always treasure and come back to. My biggest joy is when I get to work with couples getting married (designing their invites), having their first child…first pet, adding to their family. It’s a joy and privilege and I am so happy to be entrusted something so unique as treasuring memories.
3. You market your products on your company’s website, and your well-trafficked Etsy page. How do you differentiate what gets sold where, and are there any insights you can share on the benefits/downsides of having both?
My website is curated and offers the best of my products. These are items that have been bestsellers for a long time. My Etsy shop is my testing grounds. I love launching new products in there before I transfer them onto my website. Having both sites has helped me with multiple streams of revenue as well as put my products in the eyes of different audiences. The interesting thing is people who shop on my website may not be too familiar with Etsy and vise versa. I like to create a platform for each of those types and yet keep me brand coherent.
Silhouettes translate into wedding invites for a lucky couple. Photo by Kelly Allison Photography.
4. It is so fun to see companies encourage their fans to be more creative, like you do with your books, Pretty Paper Parties and Silhouette Art. What made you decide to start delving into books, and what have you learned from it?
I wish I could say I always wanted to write a book, but It wasn’t so. I was approached to write my first book, Silhouette Art, by Chronicle Books. They reached out to me after browsing Etsy for silhouette artists. They fell in love with the look and feel of my brand and the variety of my product offerings. It was the best experience ever and I really enjoyed expanding my offerings and connecting with more people in that form. The second book was an idea I had seeing how much I love crafting and pretty paper. I am by no means a party planner but I do like to throw a well coordinated party.
5. You have established yourself as an established force on women in business and balancing work and family. What are your top 3 tips on being a business owner while raising a family?
1. Establish a work schedule early on, and treat your business like a real business. This will force you to respect your time and efforts and others will see that and trust doing business with you.
2. Embrace change and be flexible.
3. Work hard if you have to but give yourself a break too. Often as we hustle to grow our businesses we forget to step back and enjoy life and family. Remember to take breaks and connect with those closest to you.
Bonus Question: What has surprised you the most in your career?
The desire to keep going no matter what. Every day I can’t wait to get to my desk and do what I love. I never planned for that but I sure am happy I still love doing what I do.
Huge thank you to Vana for taking the time to join Mini Mighty Mondays! All photos by the lovely Kelly Allison Photography.
You can find out more about Vana and shop Le Papier Studio’s work at www.lepapierstudio.com. While you’re there, peruse the studio’s blog, where Vana shares insights on running a small business and more!
Mini Mighty Mondays is a bi-monthly blog series, featuring interviews with creative individuals or small businesses to emphasize that you don’t have to be a huge company to have huge results. Interested in being a part, or know someone who’d be a great addition? Shoot me an email at email@example.com!