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Inspiring Conversations with Sarah Collins of Whimsicals Paperie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Collins.

Hi Sarah, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
Sure! From the time I was a little girl I knew that I wanted to be a practicing artist and I followed that creative path through my schooling and into adulthood. After graduating college with an arts education degree, I spent a few years painting and selling oil & mixed-media landscapes as well as teaching classes at an arts center. During this time my husband and I began dreaming of living abroad for a time, and we saved up and planned for a 6-month trip to Guatemala to study Spanish, travel around Central America, and experience life from a different perspective than our mid and mountain west backgrounds had given us so far. As we prepared for our move, I knew that I would be limited in the art supplies that I could bring and the space I would have to create in, so I packed a small kit of watercolors, colored pencils, and drawing pens, and began creating small illustrations of classic poems and quotes, as well as simple drawings inspired by the colorful culture around me. My lifelong loves of art, color, paper, and exploration all came together during this time of creating for the sheer enjoyment of it. Toward the end of our time abroad and the beginning of our return stateside, I was commissioned by a friend to design and print her wedding invitation suite, and I also began playing with printing my illustrations onto greeting cards and small card decks to sell. The idea for Whimsicals Paperie, a business focused around illustrated paper goods, was born.

As most people can attest, life is almost never linear and Whimsicals Paperie has grown slowly, organically, and often in fits and starts. Within a year after our return to the States, our daughter was born. She was born a month before her due date – beautiful, tiny, and with some significant medical needs. That first year was spent in and out of the hospital and putting everything I had into being the parent of a medically complex kiddo. In time, I was able to slowly wade back into my creative endevours and I opened an Etsy shop with a few of the card designs I had been working on during our time in Guatemala. That tiny Etsy shop was a way for me to have something for myself while also being able to be at home with and care for my daughter. As she has grown, so have I and so has my business. When she was elementary-aged, sales helped make it possible for her to attend a small private school that could accommodate her medical needs as well as her exceptional intellect and unending thirst to learn. It also gave me the flexibility to put everything aside when medical emergencies would come up and we would land back in the hospital. Whimsicals Paperie has always been an outpouring and a reflection of who I am as a person, which brings me great fulfillment, but it has also filled a need of generating income for our family while giving me the ability to be home and present for our child when she needs it. I now work full-time on my business, continue to run my Etsy shop as well as my own website, participate in markets and art fairs in and around Denver, and ship my artwork and products all around the world.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has very much been a winding road to get to where I am today. I am natural artist and creative, but not a natural sales or business person. I’ve done a lot of learning and growing along the way on how to start, grow and run a business. One of my biggest struggles, in the beginning, was finding a creative community that did what I was doing – running a handmade small business mainly online. I have since found that community and that has made a huge difference. The people we surround ourselves with can challenge us and help us grow, and I’ve certainly found that to be true in life and business.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
I would love to. Whimsicals Paperie is based in Centennial, Colorado, and is woman-owned and run (by me!). My website, Etsy shop, and in-person markets offer illustrated stationery, paper goods, and everyday gifts that I design and produce. I love creating products that make people happy and that bring beauty and intentionality into normal daily life. 90% all of my products are printed in-house, and 100% of them are assembled and packaged by me and my trusty assistants. I sell a lot of custom and personalized products like notepads and note card sets, and even though I almost never personally know the individuals they are headed to, I love shipping things off to people that are made just for them.

Alongside stationery products in my online retail spaces, I am proud to offer small to medium custom design and print jobs for other local businesses and to be expanding into the wholesale market through Handshake and Faire with my sites set on many of Colorado’s beautiful locally owned gift shops.

As the owner of a small business, I seek to support small and local shops whenever possible. In fact, many of our raw production materials from my favorite local family-owned paper supplier! Whimsicals Paperie also gives to various local and international charitable organizations which address issues like malnutrition, environmental sustainability, and human rights, and we are proud to sponsor Selah’s Friends, a giving program for hospitalized children started by my beautiful daughter and her experience with her own hospitalizations and health struggles.

We love surprises, fun facts, and unexpected stories. Is there something you can share that might surprise us?
Many people assume that I can draw anything I want off the top of my head, but I don’t draw well from memory, and even just the thought of improvisational drawing for any kind of audience makes me break into a cold sweat! Most of the illustrations I create come from observation, study, erasing and practice, and are best accomplished in quiet solitude. That, and I also love zombie movies. Most people don’t expect that either.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Marisa Taylor Photography
Rebekah Storey
Rugged Grace Photography
Sarah Collins

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