February is the perfect month to send loved ones some snail mail. Whether you have a regular pen pal, someone’s birthday to celebrate or need a card to go with your Valentine’s Day gift, the ladies of ILootPaperie have got you covered. Wanna freshen up on your handwriting skills first? Take our calligraphy e-class, and you’ll be ready to mail out all their snazzy cards. Full of puns and adorable illustrations, ILootPaperie’s quirky cards are bound to make you smile. Get to know these sisters-turned-small-business-makers in their interview below!
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
We are sisters and have shared 30+ years of inside jokes and more. It turned out when we started putting these pictures and words that made us laugh on paper, that our inside jokes were appreciated by more than just ourselves. Bound by a love of paper goods, funny drawings and keen appreciation for puns, we firmly believe in aiding and abetting others to steal hearts through our loot of quirky, colorful musings!
Why did you decide to start ILootPaperie, and how did you come up with the name?
We actually started working with paper goods by dabbling in custom wedding invitations for some close friends. Greeting cards seemed like a natural extension and the perfect way for us to put to paper a collection of cheeky thoughts and images that represented who we are.
We loved that our father looked up our last name “Lieu” in the dictionary to determine the spelling when he emigrated over as a graduate student (he was and still is very nerdy). So we’ve aspired to weave our family name, Lieu, into a company name ever since we were little. We initially started with “In Lieu of Ordinary Things.” Then one night we were playing around with variations and realized the acronym spelled “ILOOT,” we added “Paperie” to it and voila! Pierre, our French stripe–wearing bandit mascot, sprang to life.
In one sentence, tell us why you love to make.
Connecting with people over a shared laugh!
Where do you get your inspiration?
From everywhere and everyone around us! As much as we believe in making time to do things to get out of the normal day-to-day, we are also firm believers that you can find inspiration anywhere if you just pay attention and look closely enough. On the back of quite a few of our cards, we dedicate a little space to shout out to the inspiration for the design. It’s a little peek into our treasured world of friends and family who make us who we are.
What are some challenges you had to overcome in starting your company?
It takes a lot of persistence to keep a company going. As a small business owner, you have to take care of all the aspects of running a company. There are a lot of growing pains as you learn about all the nitty gritty details you don’t always anticipate or know of when you first start a company.
Most recently, we had a situation where we had to evaluate whether we wanted to take an opportunity to grow the business, but it would have come at the cost of some of our longest supporters/working relationships that we consider very near and dear to our hearts. Although it was a hard decision and the road may be longer, it was good to go through that process so that it reaffirmed the importance of our values as small business owners.
What’s your current favorite card in your shop and why?
We have a hard time picking favorites, but we do have a good story about our Best Paw Panda card. We conceptualized the card for Father’s Day, with a play on the word Paw (for Pa), but even after June, the card kept selling out of our stores and was popular at shows as well. We quickly realized that it also looked like the panda was saying “you’re the best” and giving a high-five (paw). This is a big part of why we love what we do; it’s fun to find out all the different ways our designs read to different people. There is a beautiful dialogue that transpires between our designs and how they speak differently and fit into the conversations happening in the lives of the people who buy these cards. We feel honored to be a part of that.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
Technology is amazing! It is why we have been able to bring ILootPaperie into existence and meet all these inspiring people who have been a part of our journey so far. It has enabled ILootPaperie to have such reach. It helped us land our first show and brick and mortar shop and allows us to build a virtual support network with small business owners from all over. It’s crazy that our babies have made their way to so many near and far away parts of the world, such as Cambodia and Australia, and we haven’t even been there ourselves!
What’s up next for ILootPaperie?
We have a very “can-do” attitude about things, so we’re up for anything. We’re excited to learn and push our limits. We’re tinkering with the idea of category expansion, so a couple of apparel items may be the next project, along with some collaborations.
Your favorite New Year’s goal or resolution?
Shake things up!
Ready to write some snail mail? Get your ILootPaperie over at the Brit + Co Shop!
(photos courtesy of Jessica Park)