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ABOUT THIS EPISODE

elise chats with Elizabeth Rees, founder of Chasing Paper, about how and why she decided to launch her removable wallpaper business and what she did (and does!) to deliver a personal touch with the brand. shownotes for this episode can be found at elisejoy.com/podcast/shownotes145

English
United States

TRANSCRIPT

00:00:00Hey welcome back I'm a lease and you're listening to season five of police gets crafty This is my weekly podcast that talks mostly about creative small business I'm so happy you're here If you want to learn more about the show you can go to a least joy dot
00:00:13com slash podcast otherwise describe and listen and get excited for some cool inspiration these next couple weeks Thanks for joining me this week for at least gets crafty I'm really excited about this chat I'm going to be talking with elizabeth reese who is the founder of chasing paper
00:00:35and i found chasing paper online on instagram of course via an ad and it was this like blue and white tile what i thought was tile photo and i loved it and i flagged it to show my husband leader and he got home from work and i was
00:00:49like look at his style like i really want to have this tile and on closer inspection i realized that it was wallpaper and that was amazing because it seemed like it be more affordable to install wallpaper bathroom anyway so i ordered samples and i got an email confirmation
00:01:06for the order and then i got an email from elizabeth which i you know i assume was an automated thing and it just said you know it's they just think and i think for the support and feel free to reach out with any questions and i was just
00:01:19as a small business person as someone who sells online i was just i thought it was great but i thought that the customer service like outreach that you did wass was just nice And anyway i really want the chalice elizabeth in here more about her story so long
00:01:33in joe thanks so much for coming on Absolutely thank you so much for having me Why don't you go ahead and give us a bit about your background And then we'll talk about how you got started with chasing paper Sure i my background really isn't in anything in
00:01:47design people often ask me that like oh you must be an artist or a designer and really i'm not i what i tell people that usually is that really i'm a storyteller I love to write on dh and since i was a really little girl and i went
00:02:02tio college my undergraduate for journalism and did my master's in communications clear always just loved like crafting a story and finding interesting bits out of like people or places or things or companies on dh so it kind of naturally just gravitated towards branding which was something i didn't
00:02:21even really know existed growing up in wisconsin you know there was certainly brands and companies that i liked admired but i didn't really realize that there was like a whole team of people sort of you know thinking and crafting ideas around messaging and you know collateral and aesthetic
00:02:39and all of these kinds of things so really you know my background is kind of more in that arena and marketing and branding but my family business my family is a third generation and my family's printing company they print something totally different it's like a b two b
00:02:57company they said they print billboards and bus shelters and things that were just pretty un sexy to me but but what was really cool is you know five years ago when i started chasing paper it was really like bringing both of those two things together like a legacy
00:03:17that was sort of bigger than me And i'm so thing that my grandfather and my dad and my grandmother had all been involved in on ben sort of that other side of it which which is creating a brand that fell it's um like me and marketing towards women
00:03:34like me so that's kind of the background yeah absolutely i think a lot of times you know you mentioned how you're obviously aware of advertising but you don't think about the people behind it and i think like with product development in general even though you know you mentioned
00:03:49your family business wasn't the same you do have this understanding that people just create product right Like people just print really big things and it kind of boat you solve to figure it all out but at least you're aware like oh this is the thing that i can
00:04:02do you know this can be done absolutely i think sometimes people who are starting a business they think to themselves i want to start a business and then they try to find the idea and then some people have an idea and they're like dude i got to start
00:04:14a business way which one were you Well you know it's funny i think the latter really so i was working in new york i have been living in europe before that doing my masters and writing my thesis and then when i came back to the state my dad
00:04:31had asked me to help with our family businesses website just because i had sort of told him you know about how again about this story and i said i just don't think you guys really tell the story of sort of what you do and how you do it
00:04:45and he said well why don't you try to take a crack at it So i was in new york and helping my helping my dad out and um during that process i had to really learn like what they did and what the equipment was about which you know
00:04:58prior to this i always just thought was like super boring and like just uninspired and i don't know i just didn't i didn't really have a good grasp on it on day as i started learning it i thought wow there's such a craft to printing it such a
00:05:13really interesting really intricate really detailed sort of thing that you know these guys that we have working at our facility have worked decades to sort of you know hone and these really pretty amazing skills and so i asked my dad i said listen i think that there's like
00:05:30more we could be doing this it was really only strictly be to be in this like very niche sort of uh category of printing and i said can i take on some projects for friends and people i know in new york that are sort of outside of the
00:05:44backs and my dad being the great guy that he is an absolutely as long as they don't lose this money as long as you're at least break and even on these kind of this rnd i'm fine with it on day one of the projects that i did kind
00:05:57of my very first month of doing this wass i was having breakfast with the founder of birchbox cata and she said you know we got this trend we're in kind of a transitional office space for building out new offices but we have lots of people coming through and
00:06:16you know different editors and you know they're having all these like very high level meetings because the business is really taking off and we created these wraps is what i kind of call him it's not exactly what we do is chasing people now but it was something similar
00:06:31where it was kind of appealing stick material and we had it all everything was hand drawn and we came up this really fun bright bold print on we had him installed and we've installed it on like a thursday or friday and by the end of the weekend i
00:06:46had already had like a few girls who worked there reach out to me being like where can i buy this And how did you do this And so And kati and i spoke after that weekend and she said i don't know what the idea is that there is
00:06:57an idea here and that just kind of gave me the confidence to sort of explore it and to say you know what's in the category and what i learned was at the time there was very low end like vinyl and wall decals that were very low design sort
00:07:15of like clip art And you know things that just felt sort of uh i don't know i mean kind of commercial and just you know like you could see it everywhere you don't treat with falling leaves race saw lot on dear things on the other end of the
00:07:31spectrum which were like very high design very expensive this vote um you know things that just felt very sort of for me at least being a twenty something year old living in new york felt sort of outside of my reach but they didn't feel like there was anything
00:07:46right in the middle of something that felt it's accessible and cool and fun but also wasn't going to be something that would like break the bank in terms of you know the investment that it would take to try yeah yeah so chasing paper was just sort of worn
00:08:02out of that and i really just felt like i saw a hole in the category and that i wanted to fill it um i did not have any expectations about what chasing paper would be I literally truly believed that it would just be like a fun side project
00:08:16that i could do to be creatively stimulated and just try something and it's grown into a successful business which is what craziest thing in the world to me yeah yeah well i mean i think a lot of times like i think a lot of people especially you know
00:08:31small business folks are listening to this can relate you know you have this idea it's like ok well we'll see where it goes and then sometimes it's amazing sometimes it's not you know and i think part of it is just what keeps you going in the beginning and
00:08:45you're like well i like this like i like trying i say i like figuring it out yes but i don't know that we've officially explained what chasing paper is for people who are like what are they talking about Obviously wallpaper but if you want to tell what is
00:08:59your product Yeah so chasing paper is thoughtfully designed see the removable wallpaper way digitally print everything on appeal in stick fabric The reason that we do that is because it really mimics traditional all paper there's a texture and a grain to the paper that really makes it it's
00:09:17very matt it's not shiny it's v o c and pvc free which is again really different from us is in the category which is typically on vinyl just a plastic on dh you know the other big differentiator because when i say wallpaper i mean people have like pts
00:09:33city of like having removed at one time i put it up for justin like horrendous print or something that they like you know their grandmother's house or something we sell chasing paper in panels versus roles so we really encourage small projects and large projects and everything in between
00:09:51we also know that like i'm a consumer that sometimes wants to try things and put you know dip my toe in the water of whatever this new thing is andi didn't want to make it cost prohibitive for people to do that um we wanted people to be excited
00:10:07and you know just again be able to try and maybe do like a one panel project um and also then you have the confidence to do a whole room or a bathroom or a closet or you know something cool on dh then since you know we're about fat
00:10:22a little over five years old and we've also recently launched a print shop for large format affordable prince way have wall stickers and coming out with a lot more canvas and chalkboard products this year cool very cool so yeah and i should say i got me samples so
00:10:40it does say this is like really nitty gritty but it does say to not have any texture on your walls and you do have some texture and i felt like it still went on pretty well do you know it does it What have you found with that Like
00:10:53And it kind of works like i was like i haven't solved with this text E yeah i mean texture is a tricky thing because everyone's did interpretation Texture is different which we've found yeah and it's also really like regional which is really interesting And i lived on the
00:11:09east coast and grew up in the midwest and now i'm back in the midwest on california homes have much more texture where there's like a knockdown material or an orange peel where it's like a heavy texture which we almost find like almost always does not work Yeah but
00:11:23yeah i mean that's why we really really encourage people to get a sample way have risk free samples up to thirty dollars o r samples are five dollars and then when you come back because we know that you're going to love it so much you get reimbursed for
00:11:37those samples on your first order we just really believe that people should get it in person and touch it and feel it it's a really demonstrative product and so we feel like once it's in your hands you're going to be just be able to have a much better
00:11:52You know feeling of whether it's going to work for you and your space in your room if you have a textured wall do you know do a little test you know put it up and see if it stays or see if there's any curling on the edges or
00:12:01anything um but yeah we feel a lot of those questions and a lot of you know having something that's like a relatively new product is a lot of education s o we you know we feel lots and lots of e mails every week and through our chat service
00:12:16of just trying to get out give people the confidence to try something new which can be hard on dh we're certainly sensitive to that and try to you know really just work through things and encourage people to send us pictures of a wall or if there's if they
00:12:31have any questions you know and we really don't mind any of that that's really part of sort of what we do in the service that we offer yeah i think that's awesome i think is i think that's important and that you know it's it's an investment even though
00:12:43it's not crazy it's still it's a big deal and so being able to try it out and i recently i saw a paper planner and i recently started so you know sending samples of the paper stock And i've been so excited to see how many people are taking
00:12:58me upon it You know it's like that is such a great way to be like here's the paper Make sure it fits with your handwriting in your style And i can tell you what i think but you need to make sure So i love it i think that's
00:13:08yeah Ok So let's back up let's Talk about you have this idea You're deciding to go for it What did your kind of ramp up or launch look like Did you have an idea for how many papers you wanted right from the beginning Or what did that all
00:13:23look like Yeah So in leading up to it the biggest thing i started with this is just research I bought everything that i could get my hands on in terms of competitors And who else was in this space and really kind of did like a deep dive on
00:13:37sort of like also just traditional wallpaper Like how is it sold How is it marketed How do they display it Online on dh There was susan again kind of in the holes of the financial part of it and just not having a lot of things that were sort
00:13:50of middle of the road i also felt like there was some ways that people have been selling wallpaper in the past that could really just use like an update you know We didn't know the first thing i knew is that like most everything i saw online was photoshopped
00:14:04so they would photoshopped the wallpaper into a a space and i just felt like i just didn't like the feeling of that i wanted to see things and like a real environment and natural light you know just really get kind of get an understanding of things i think
00:14:17that that really sparked my creativity when i see a room that's like really well put together and i could tell that someone actually styled it s oh that was a big thing that we wanted everything to be professionally shot in a real environment which living in new york
00:14:33when you're starting a business was like really daunting because i wanted it to feel like a real home and studio space is incredibly expensive and you know all of this was really extensive so what i ended up doing was i would rent airbnb is for a night or
00:14:49for like twenty four hours and i would always chat with the host first to let met let them know what we were doing on dh we would go into people's homes and actually like every single time i had like one hundred percent success rate that i was like
00:15:04you know this won't harm your walls everything will be back but perfectly you know we were finished and everyone always said yes it really was always so cool which is just like a testament tio cool people i don't know really like restored my faith in humanity it's just
00:15:19like the time we live in when people are like oh yeah that makes total sense that it really did people were always like enthusiastic so gracious so nice and helpful and like s o we would go into these homes and we would wallpaper so that we could really
00:15:33it could really feel like it would sit in someone's home because it really was in someone's home and from there we just had this like incredibly powerful collateral from like day one on i think it also really made our website look and feel different from our competitors It
00:15:51was just we had really spent the time on sort of those kinds of things and at that time you know instagram was not around i mean it was around but it was no one was really using it right So deaf and yeah based book was obviously around too
00:16:04but it was like the content that i was seeing it was all starting to like ramp up like people really cared about the way things look often felt andi knew that that was something that we wanted to be like a cornerstone of chasing paper so you know we
00:16:19got our website looking great with all of these images and then from there old fashioned way which i love this way of marketing is i hand wrote notes to i think it was probably one hundred editors and it took me a long time but i did it over
00:16:36a period of times that everyone felt genuine and i like new kind of a little bit about the editor about the publication i didn't reach me too hard any which way i really wanted it to be a fit for the editor and if i didn't feel like it
00:16:50what would be I didn't write the letter on dice with the hand written note i sent a framed um a little frame of a framed piece of wallpaper and i just talked about you know like how this was came about and like my family's history with printing and
00:17:07how i felt like wallpaper can be hard and it's so transformative and how i wanted people to feel in their spaces and i just really kind of wrote from the heart um and we launched on that i wrote email to my family and friends and i'm leaving out
00:17:23like a million leading up to lunches like crazy and there's so many things that it takes but we launched on a tuesday and on wednesday we were like on the front page of design sponge and it was like a headline was like finally there's acute removable wallpaper or
00:17:39something like that so it happened really quickly after that you know we were like immediately getting attention and people to this site and orders which hindsight is twenty twenty i probably should have done like a soft launch yeah like learn figure it out but yeah so it's a
00:17:58little bit child i fire you need like a million mistakes in those first few months but you know i wouldn't have done it any other way really I mean it was it was a really good this is steep learning her but it was a good learning curve You
00:18:11know We knew that we had something from the first day and having that confidence and i often tell you know grace donnie who runs design sponge that and she's had this tremendous effect on so many small businesses not just mine on dh just young designers and artists she's
00:18:27such a supporter of women and you know women doing their craft and so it's it was again you know trial by fire but having her vote of confidence is something that i still carried to this day and you know having someone see what you do and say you're
00:18:44doing a good job this is a good idea is something that i also try to then you know tell other people that i see kind of coming up and starting things because it's so scary in the beginning and to have someone say this is great this is good
00:18:58keep going is so important that's what's so interesting and you think i mean i agree like through a soft lunch you know maybe you work out with you more kinks but you can't replicate that energy right And that excitement so you're you're so right I mean there's something
00:19:13about um having you know having the orders coming in and knowing like you've got to fill these orders and it's got to be great and i don't know that that that that that's crazy energy it's very exciting so i didn't get that completely and i think that there's
00:19:26like a momentum to that you know we've kept going literally since like day one of chasing paper and i feel incredible like honor and sort of like a like a not pressure pressure makes a town negative but it's like i i want to live up to that and
00:19:44you know people have been so helpful to me along the way and you know as that ball gets rolling and that snowball gets bigger you know more and more opportunities come and it's like you know it's all because that momentum and keeping it going and saying yes to
00:19:58things and probably not have having everything sorted out but you know really trying tio keep it keep it going so yeah yeah i know i get that when you first launched did you have was there a ton of different skews Was there a lot of designs or did
00:20:14you start small from the beginning Yeah we started small way I think we started with like fifty prints ok That's kind of a lot to me but but yeah well i mean it's it was way have lot of many more now on this say we have like probably
00:20:31and we do everything like by color too Yeah rescues but um yeah in the biggest thing too is that we always have wanted to keep it like curated as we add we're always taking down much to people's dismay So funny we won't sell a print in a certain
00:20:48color way for like a year and then the day we take it down i'll get an email being like wait where's that print to the right girl been up for five years thank you anyway it's funny how that happens but we try to really keep things curated and
00:21:02s o that there's not like you know hundreds and that are thousands of options we try to keep things you know somewhat gallery like is what we say we want people to be able tio shot by different categories and by color ds and trying to always kind of
00:21:18switch things up then you know make sure that there's a lot of different things that are like discovery page and on our instagram um but yeah and working with designers and artists has been truly like the joy of my of my job now is getting to you know
00:21:34find people's work or have people send us their work and create collaborations together it's just such an exciting fun way to keep things really fresh and to be you know working with new people and taking it you know a fresh perspective on things it's really great yeah and
00:21:51so right from the beginning did you do any design and house or did you reach out to different artists toe licenses Is that from the beginning Yeah it's always been a box from from day one because there's a lot of things that we feel like and and now
00:22:07to it's just things that i'd like learned about our customer and so i always definitely try to be even if someone's like relations saying someone else's stuff I always try to have a hand in it you know Explaining to the designers are artists you know like what our
00:22:20customer really likes what color she likes You know what kind of variation she likes to see just because we no our customers so intimately now And so we really try toe you know be mindful of that And you know make sure that everything feels really different and new
00:22:38and fresh with every collaboration that we d'oh awesome Yeah Is there anything from the beginning that you wish if you could have told yourself you know five years ago hey like heads up on this anything you wish you'd known oh my god There's so much like everything will
00:22:53be ok Yeah totally Okay it'll all work out I think the advice i would give myself and its base like literally still have to give myself actually had something happened this morning where i had to really remind myself is it's so hard when you're doing have you have
00:23:10a small business and you put your blood sweat and tears I mean truly i ate slept drank chasing paper every single day for the last five years more than five years and it's so hard not to take things personally on dh it's not just about like failure because
00:23:26you expect to fail right like you expect things like not work out or not go your way but you know getting just you know e mails from customers who are unhappy or having you know things it's just hard on you know good days and the dad day is
00:23:41not tio sort of remove yourself from things and it's a blessing and a curse because you're close to your business and i'm extremely close to my business and um but it's something that i have constantly and i have not solved i don't know how you do it and
00:23:55even as you hire people and step away from certain parts of the business you know things always seem to kind of trickle upward if it's bad news doesn't always trickle up when you get you know so many e mails from really happy customers and you usually are just
00:24:12hearing about the things they're sort of going wrong sometimes so that that's didn't something that i have to constantly remind myself to say you know that the more you grow the bigger you become the more successful you have become like issues and problems also increased too it's just
00:24:28make sure of business and it's all about handling them in a way that like makes you feel good and and also just like running my business in a way that makes me feel proud and i think for me that's not always just saying you know everyone's like the
00:24:42customer's always right and sometimes they are and sometimes you have to like stand your ground and say like this is our policy or this is the way we do things and we do it for a reason and it's you know to protect the people that i worked for
00:24:55in to protect our business and um you know you get lots of feedback from people and it can be hard sometimes but yeah it's something that i'm constantly learning and thinking about double let me know if you figure it out you could like cell that elixir once you
00:25:11want tio yeah awesome woman just end you know you kind of mentioned us or expand into different things with prince and you know growing the business that way and any other big goals or anything you're super excited about coming up yeah we actually so i after living almost
00:25:31ten years in manhattan and brooklyn in new york i just recently moved back to milwaukee wisconsin where i grew up then where we've always produced the paper through my family's business and were just opening up a creative studio here in milwaukee and it's been a dream of mine
00:25:47just because like i was telling you have been you know kind of making it work in airbnb ease and studio spaces in new york the last five years and it's always been my dream to have somewhere great to shoot on dh have it be somewhere that i could
00:26:01really you know take things kind of to the next level in terms of content and shooting and creating you know really fun environments to shoot the paper and again just kind of be creative and i also am super passionate about you know being able to create creative jobs
00:26:21in markets that our kind of underserved in those areas and i really feel like malaki is one of them there's not a lot of creative jobs in the city and i know that when i was eighteen and leaving for college and even twenty two thinking about where it
00:26:35was gonna move after college you know chicago and new york in san francisco and l a sort of feel like the only places and it's super important to me to create um you know jobs and opportunities for young women and men in the city where i grew up
00:26:55and you know we just really kind of wantto continue that and uh the studio here is kind of our way of sort of giving back to our own community and creating opportunities for young people here it's awesome but so cool to hear yeah yeah we're really excited about
00:27:11it you should be i think that that that's Hugely exciting What was with it's such a pleasure to talk to you I think i'll get back to you Teo you so much for thinking about me For that You welcome I think that your personal touch i mean i
00:27:22feel like i emailed you because i know like you you I don't know it's like you're dealing with personal touch and then just hearing all the things like the airbnb and all that is is just so fun and it's exciting So i look forward to continuing to following
00:27:35to follow chasing paper So yeah awesome Thanks for coming Thank you so much Appreciate it All right that's it for this week folks thanks so much for listening as always described Rate review Tell a friend if you think that this topic is relevant tio what would be extinct
00:27:50to them right now I would popping back into your feet next wednesday Talk that way

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