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Bossbabe Stories: Sugar Paper

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When two close friends decided to start a personal stationery and letterpress printing business in 2003, who knew that its potential could be so grand?

Fast forward to 2017 and this LA-based company, Sugar Paper, has grown bigger than ever, with its beautiful designs featured in Vogue, InStyle, Martha Stewart Weddings and more.

Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker has always believed that "personal stationery makes a deep, lasting impression." Lucky for us, we had a chance to speak with the owners about their journey to success.

Names: Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker
Ages: 39 and 37
Educational Backgrounds: UCLA Undergrads
Titles: Founders of Sugar Paper

Tell us how Sugar Paper all started.

Sugar Paper began in 2003 with a love of paper and appreciation for simple, tasteful design. We have an appreciation for fine stationery but, at the time, we felt that classic, understated design was missing from the market. The high-end options felt dated and we wanted to put a fresh spin on the time-honored tradition of the handwritten note. We started Sugar Paper to create a line that combined the high-quality materials that make up the components of fine stationery but specifically designed with a younger woman in mind.

What is a typical day like at work for you ladies?

We both work the same hours. We find that the collaborative nature of our partnership really works for us. We share an office and both work from 10 am to 6 pm Monday through Thursday.  On Fridays, we work from home and try to be more available for our families. When we started Sugar Paper we had imagined a career that would blend well with motherhood. This has been a challenge to say the least. We have found that work-life balance is our biggest hurdle when it comes to the growth of the business. We are both hard workers, but we also consider our family the priority so for us it’s a constant struggle.

As the business has grown, we find that most days are packed with meetings and conference calls. Today, for example, we had a staff meeting followed by a design review, followed by a call with our attorney, followed by two more calls and a social media meeting. Most days we enjoy lunch at our desks. As you can imagine, this leaves very little time for emails and proactive work. At 6 pm, we fly out of the office to have dinner with our families and read books to them before bed. Once they are happily tucked in bed, most nights we pick up the slack of what we weren’t able to do that day. My best email window seems to be from 8 to 10 pm, sadly. It’s a very busy, but very happy life.

Where do you find your inspirations from?

We are rooted in our aesthetic. We both tend to respond to the same types of things and we laugh about it often. We often show up to meetings in a similar (if not the exact same!) outfit. It’s kind of embarrassing. We find inspiration in travel, the outdoors, fashion and tradition. We both love classic items and are generally turned off by trends that come and go. Having really similar taste serves us well.

What is your idea of relaxing?

We both love the beach and the ocean. Jamie grew up fishing and I grew up sailing so when we need to take a beat to breathe, we both head to the nearest body of water. Surprisingly, our work with Target has also introduced us to the lakes in Minnesota. We’re now both dreaming of owning a lake house one day.

Any advice for other aspiring female entrepreneurs who would like to start their own business?

Owning a business is a lifestyle choice. Be sure that you really want to own a business before you start one. Some of our very best employees have remarked that they love working for Sugar Paper, but would never want to own it. I find this idea noteworthy because the responsibility of owning a business is wonderful, but also really stressful. Owning a company is very different from having a job. You live a breathe your work…  and it never turns off. I hope this advice doesn’t sound negative. We tend to be overly honest.

Favorite items from your stationery collections:

We both love the new agenda and the Italian leather items that came out this fall. We also love the new Target gift wrap collection that was just released for a limited time. Anything we make we throw our hearts into. It’s the only way we know how to design.

Favorite place in the world:

Chelsea: London
Jamie: Spain

Words you live by:

"Keep going. It’s worth it."

About the writer:

A California girl at heart, Tanya is a fashion writer
who shares her love for all things pretty and pink.

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