We Go Wednesday - Interview With Sweet Papier

I recently had the pleasure of picking the brain of Danette Zoda Yepsen, owner of the lovely & inspiring Sweet Papier, an on-line paper bakery specializing in invitations, announcements, note cards and party favors for just about any social occasion.

Her products are not just pretty but eco-chic as well; she's chosen a local partner who supplies eco-friendly papers made of recycled, > 30% post-consumer waste. 10% of her earnings go to organizations that help fight hunger around the globe in an effort to eradicate poverty.

Impressed yet? Read on...

Please tell us a little about yourself as owner and designer of Sweet Papier.
DZY - I'm a graphic designer :: a CRAVE Chicago featured entrepreneur :: an espresso addict :: a fitness fanatic :: a cupcake lover :: a wife and a mother to one beautiful girl.

You opened Sweet Papier's doors in 2007, what made you decide to start your own business?
DZY- When my daughter was born, through her first year, I was still working long hours away from home in corporate America and traveling to the West Coast quite a bit. I wasn't in love with my job or my field anymore, so I knew the best decision was to leave and start something new. I knew what I was passionate about so I assessed my skills sets and studied to become more proficient in graphic design. I had a mentor along the way as well as the support of my husband and now I'm doing what I love.
I'm absolutely in love with the look of your products, they are so fun and whimsical! Where do you look to for product inspiration?
DZY- I'm smitten with all things design for children and love to visit shops like Land Of Nod and read good blogs that focus on all things pretty + child-like for inspiration.
What makes you stand out from stationery companies?
DZY - Our fresh concept, hand-illustrated designs, exclusive product line + focus on the customer all set us apart from other stationery companies. We've worked hard on our branding + I think our customers love the overall experience they encounter when shopping with us.

Many of our designs are hand-illustrated by a friend of mine who studied fine arts while living in New York which gives us a unique look and presence. We offer paper pieces like cookie envelopes, cupcake cartons, and chocolate bar wrappers to coordinate with our invitation line ~ things that are more exclusive to us.

We are extremely customer-focused and make multiple points of contact with each customer. We reach out when an order is placed letting the customer know we received it; we send a complimentary proof for the customer's approval; we contact the customer to advise that their package has shipped so they know when to expect it; we send a hand-written note expressing our thanks and conduct follow-up with our customers to be sure they are 100% happy with our products and their experience with us.
You are you a mom. How do you find balance between two full-time jobs, and any tips you'd like to share with us?
DZY - My daughter is now 6. I think balance is something that every working mom struggles with, myself included. I wake up at 4 AM every morning to accomplish everything that needs to get done in the day, but that works for me.

We do all of our work in-house {designing, printing, cutting + assembling} and don't have a large fulfillment team to fill our orders {yet}. A priority for me is spending time in my daughter's classroom which takes me away from the studio {this also explains the need to start my day so early}. The house isn't always clean, but honestly that's the last thing on my priority list. For me, it's about having priorities in check and support from my family that make it all work.
If you had to select your favorite product from your collections, what would it be, and why?
DZY - Our happy birthday notes {mini personalized birthday cards} are new to our menu and we love them. Moms love them too because they are practical + more economical than store bought birthday cards; they are personalized + their kids love to see their name in print; they encourage early writers to jot down a few words for their friends on their b-days; they make for great, non-trinkety party favors when personalized for each party guest [and sweet, too, because it keeps with the birthday theme]; and we sell them by the dozen so they always have them on hand ~
I know your day is already hectic but when you get 5 minutes, what are your favorite daily reads, like which websites and/or blogs you just have to visit?
DZY - I'm so inspired by Amy Atlas and the beautiful sweet tables she creates so I love reading her blog. I like to read Daily Candy + Daily Candy Kids + Stroller Traffic + Mamaista because they are so full of substance and so cleverly written. I also love Not Just A Mommy (***insert giggle***), Little Red Bus and Luxe Magazine ~
Do you have any fabulous projects on the horizon?
DZY - Looking ahead to 2011, we plan to expand our bridal + wedding collection and add some sweet new things to our product line that customers have been asking for {stay tuned} ~
And just for fun, you are stranded on a desert island and can take one item and one meal. What would they be?
DZY - My espresso machine. I think I'd be okay without the meal as long as I had cupcakes. they're perfect with espresso.
Need more sweet? Keep up with all the latest at Sweet Papier on Facebook and Twitter.

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