Written by: Jessica Underwood, Owner and Editor The Paper Review
The Paper Review had the privilege of interviewing the co-owner and creative director of the fun, colorful and very inspiring stationery company, Swanky and Bold.
We see the stationery products, we see some behind the scenes photos but The Paper Review wants to dive deeper and share the story of stationery companies around the world.
In this interview, you will learn more about the Swanky and Bold brand, started by a mother-daughter duo who took their talents and passion for creativity and turned it into products with a meaningful purpose.
You will also get insight on how Kaila and Maria got started and their tips for anyone starting a small business.
Keep scrolling to read the informative and motivating interview with Swanky and Bold conducted by The Paper Review!
TPR: “Tell us a little bit about your brand and the products you offer.”
K. Jensen: “Swanky and Bold is a design company that is exploring creative ways to incorporate our love of bright colors and painterly patterns into fun and functional products. We believe in celebrating the yay in every day and aim to encourage more kindness and fun along the way.
Our brand combines the notions of sophistication and fun, as we try to encourage others to pursue their dreams, be kind and to not forget to live in the moment.
All of our products incorporate one of Maria’s original art pieces. The look of the brand is a combination of hand-painted, vibrant colors and abundant patterns balanced by a clean illustration and modern type or calligraphy. We want the unique design aesthetic of Maria’s paintings to take center stage so we keep our illustrations and typography clean and elegant and our message strong.
Our products meet at the intersection of fun and functionality. We currently have planners, agenda pads, a variety of notepads and greeting cards as well as gift wrap and gift tags. We will be expanding our product line to include paper products around hosting parties.”
TPR: “How did Swanky and Bold get started?”
K. Jensen: “We are a mother-daughter design team. We both love to paint and draw and are happiest when being creative. We discovered early on that one of the great things about working together is that we are better together. We are creating things that neither of us would have done individually. It’s been a journey of creative exploration and we look forward to seeing where it takes us.
Maria was introduced to art at a very young age and did the same for me. We’ve had an art studio at our home since I was three years old, which meant endless opportunities for getting messy and playing with color.
Every holiday we would host craft parties and make people handmade cards. Looking back, it seems as if it never was a question of if we would start something, but more of a matter of when and we’re so glad we did.
When I started studying Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Copenhagen, I had just finished being a designer of paper goods in the wedding industry and was looking for another way to continue creating while making a positive impact on the world.
I remember asking my mom if she’d be willing to just work 2-3 hours a week (ha!) and if I could use just one of her paintings for an idea I had. After that, I quite quickly realized that combining my illustration and hand lettering with my mom’s paintings created a really unique and eye-catching look that I hadn’t seen in the industry. I shared my early creations with some friends and based on their reactions knew I was on to something. After that, things started moving quite quickly and we haven’t slowed down since. (Oh, and my mom is definitely working much more than my very horribly calculated 2-3 hours a week!)
Launching this business has also been a way for us to be engaged in each other’s lives while living over 5,000 miles apart. We just celebrated our one-year anniversary. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement from everyone who helped make our first year a success. We couldn’t have done it without them.”
TPR: “Why are you passionate about stationery”
K. Jensen: “We love all things paper. We also love bright colors, painting, collage, calligraphy and typography. Stationery seemed like a natural fit that would allow us to combine our artistic interests with a desire to have our own business.
We’ve always been a family that writes things down or sends a note with a funny clipping from the Sunday paper.”
I also love finding ways to incorporate pops of color into my daily tasks. I find it helps motivate me to do things that I don’t always want to do.
I’ve always thought of the stationery products I use in my daily life as my daily accessories and as a way of showing the world a little peek at my personality.”
TPR: “In your opinion, why is it important to keep physical stationery goods thriving in a digital world?”
K. Jensen: “There’s something special about putting a pen to paper; it creates something that can’t just be copied and pasted anywhere or quickly deleted.
Or imagine sitting at your desk at work with a long list of chores swirling in your head. You have a pretty notepad with original art decorating the edges next to your laptop. You pick up your favorite pen and begin to make your to-do list. You look forward to crossing them off as the day progresses.
These are little things in a big, busy world. These moments of enjoyment wrapped in the physical sensation of paper in hand or pen or paper, combined with the visual appeal of color and pattern, add richness to our daily lives.
We create products that you want to keep and show off, becoming an accessory to your desk.
With the ease of the digital world, it’s easier than ever to send birthday sentiments. While the number of people that I receive birthday wishes from has dramatically increased due to social media and Facebook reminders, it also doesn’t feel so special. Receiving a gift or card that’s picked out just for you is an extremely wonderful feeling.
The digital world is great. It’s given us the tools to be more productive and efficient. It allows for an ease of communication and connectivity never before possible. It can also promote isolation, a decline in interpersonal relationships and an inauthentic highly curated narrative that is more fiction than fact. To counteract some of the negative aspects of our digital age, we believe it is more important than ever to embrace some of the positive aspects of the analog world.”
TPR: “How do you want to impact the stationery industry?”
K. Jensen: “We want to create beautiful and functional products that will add enjoyment to the lives of our customers.
It’s easy to forget that people may appear on social media to be having the time of their lives even when times are rough. Our hope is to encourage people to send notes for all occasions and if there isn’t one, create one.
We really want to inspire others to pursue their dreams and to spread kindness. One of our planners says “Pencil in Some Yay Today”, which we’ve adopted as our company tagline. We want to encourage people to work hard, but to also remember to leave time for fun and spontaneity.”
TPR: “What have you learned so far on your journey?”
K. Jensen: “It’s an exciting adventure to start a business. We are fortunate to live in a time when technology makes it possible. We are learning so much. The biggest challenge is finding the time to do all the things that need to be done since there are only 24 hours in any given day. Time management is our biggest challenge.
It’s been an incredible and wild ride so far and if we listed all the things we’ve learned, you could probably write a book about it. We have definitely learned that Google is our best friend. Seriously. Without it and the vast knowledge of the internet, we would still be trying to figure out how to get started.
One of the most important takeaways has been to just get started, realizing that this is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s so easy to get excited and go 1,000 miles an hour, but we have to remember that we want to create high-quality goods and good things take time.”
TPR: “Where can people buy your products?”
K. Jensen: “You can shop our products online! The easiest way is to visit our online store, but you can also purchase directly from our Facebook page and Pinterest page which customers have told us is really simple.
We’re currently in the process of reaching out to retailers so, in the near future, you will be able to check out our site to find out where you can shop us locally!”
TPR: “Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to start their stationery company?”
K. Jensen: “Be a lifelong learner. Share what you know. Learn from and support other small business entrepreneurs. The stationery industry is filled with wonderful people who are very generous with their support. Look into Katie Hunt’s classes through TSBC (Tradeshow Boot Camp). They provide a wealth of information as well as a community of kindred spirits.”
We would like to thank Swanky and Bold for participating in this interview with The Paper Review. We are dedicated to highlighting brands that are making an impact in the stationery industry and adding value to lives around the world.
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