Monday, November 3, 2008

Paper Cloud

Ariana & Matt Broerman , Cincinnati, OH, USA
Paper Cloud

1) How would you describe your style?

I think of our style as refined doodles or sketches. They're organic, and the final designs are very close to the original ideas that first make their way onto paper. So much of our work is inspired by nature, and the irregularities and nuances of our designs enhance that.

2) Who is your current artist/designer-crush?

Two designers I really admire are Nicole Locher and Lorena Barrezueta. I love clever, unexpected twists to otherwise ordinary pieces. Locher's shirts are so feminine and lovely, but more than a little mischievous when you take a closer look. And I'm a huge fan of Lorena's ceramic watch bracelets. I have great appreciation for design that goes one step further to delight -- when a designer gives you something to discover, adding a hint of edginess.

3) How is it working with your husband (and vice versa)? Most people advise against working with family. Could you give us some tips on how to make it work?

Matt and I were best friends before we started dating, so we've always worked well together, from school projects to now, tweaking designs and choosing colors. We balance each other, we both work hard, and we appreciate each other's work. His work ethic is unmatched. And we've split up our responsibilities, which makes things easier. I work on sales and press; he handles the business and tax stuff. We both design, and we both work on different aspects of production. At the end of the day, it's just a lot of fun to be in our home studio together, listening to music and making products.

4) If you could put your products on the shelves of any 3 stores, which ones would you choose?

That's tough... So many of our stores are small, boutiques around the country, and we love working with the small-shop owners. We hope to keep getting our products in those types of stores.

5) Your goods are available at numerous retail outlets. Any early lessons that you can pass on to our readers looking to do the same?

We started Paper Cloud in January 2006, and our first trade show was in January 2008. Those first two years were filled with a lot of cold-calling, emailing, and going into shops with a big box of products, hoping for the best. I definitely recommend to anyone in our position to talk to store owners about their experiences as buyers and what they look for. It sounds simple, but we've gotten great insight and advice that way. I also strongly suggest going to a trade show as a visitor before planning to exhibit. Look at booths, take notes, talk to other exhibitors-- it's a huge learning experience before taking that leap.

6) What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I always loved making things since I was little, and every year through college I made Christmas cards for friends and family. The cards were intricate, handmade little pieces of art with different papers, beads, and sequins. I usually made them over Thansgiving weekend while I was home, staying up late and loving every moment. After Matt and I got married in the summer of 2005 we decided to try and sell the cards that winter, and it all grew from there.

7) You're both designers and neither of you ever ran a business before - what are some resources (Books, sites, etc) that you found really really useful?

More than any book or outside resource, the most helpful asset to our starting Paper Cloud has been Matt's entrepreneurial spirit. He comes from a very entrepreneurial family (they have started and are running 5 businesses!), and he's always had an unwavering belief that we can just do it. Of course this isn't very useful for your readers... When we started out, I frequently visited, a site devoted to all things related to women-run craft businesses. They cover everything from starting a web site to getting press, and everyone on the forums is very open and encouraging.

Ariana's workspace:

1. Charles & Ray Eames stamps (for inspiration, not postage)
2. the Christmas card we sent out last year
3. orders in progress
4. doodles on their way to designs
5. an old mysterious roll of film I still haven't gotten around to developing
6. Post-Its -- a desk essential!
7. one of many old Paper Cloud journals, slowly being filled
8. my little laptop
9. my daily planner -- I'd feel lost without it

Thanks Ariana & Matt!!


Melissa de la Fuente said...

Lovely! Their work is beautiful and I am officially in love with the sweet gray journal with mushroom print....divine. Thanks for this great interview!