We thought it was about time to introduce you to the makers behind our fabulous handmade goodies in-store…so, in the next of our Meet the Makers of OHC specials, please say hello to Sue of Paperweight Products….
How did you become a designer/maker?
By accident! By day I am part of a family printing company in India, and I was asked by a client to train some of our team to make folded book art, as she could no longer deal with the demand herself. I did, and we successfully completed a large order for the US. Unfortunately the client’s business model didn’t work for her, so I decided to try setting up myself, with a view to getting more permanent work for my folding ladies in Assam.
How did you choose your business name and what’s the meaning behind it?
Paperweight in printing refers to the paper stock you are using. I like paper, and I will always caress a piece of paper be it a book page, a leaflet or whatever to feel what stock has been used. The business I would like to develop combines our printing business and upcycling paper in various forms. Each different product has its ideal paperweight (so I find book folding works best on 70gsm book printing paper, for example!) so the name seemed to fit.
Do you run your business full time or balance another job as well?
I run this bit of my business part time. I would love to do more, as I have many ideas for developing more products, making it a more viable business for employing others and doing even basic things like getting an online shop going, managing some social media and so on, but hey.. Other than this I am Director of Finance and Human Resources for our company in India, (we spend half the year there), I work with my husband on his UK business which imports print from our Indian company, and we are also working on some book publishing and another export business dealing in Assamese produce and handicrafts.
How do you make time for it all?
With difficulty, but it helps that we work from home so have some flexibility. Firstly we are split between India and the UK, so I tend to do more of my UK business when I’m here. I generally do my folding at night in front of the television, as I find it quite relaxing. I used to do the marking at home and then the folding when I was in the car on a long journey, in hospital waiting rooms while I was pregnant, in coffee shops when my daughter was a sleepy baby… Nowadays it is harder as I use a different technique which really requires a table! I find that giving myself 5-point to-do lists everyday helps, as does restricting myself to work burst of one hour on any one task so I make a little progress on everything and work on every business everyday.
What’s your favourite thing about running your business?
The freedom of making your own work hours, getting to live in two countries and working with my husband. This has meant that we look after our daughters 100% ourselves with no need for childcare, which I find is a huge privilege and one that I am happy to forego a large salary for. I also really enjoy being able to do what I like, and being able to pursue ideas if I feel like it. I used to work as a supermarket director, which was intense, very long hours and following a definite structure and company policy, so very different to my life today.
Of all the things you’ve ever made, which has been your favourite?
To be honest, I get more excited about the books than the folding. I love old books with a tale to tell other than the story (such as an inscription in the front dated from 1926 to commemorate someone becoming head boy!), or really retro covers, or… the list goes on. My shelves are full of books I bought for folding but then decided to keep!
Of my folds, I guess my two favourites are a “Wish” book and a “Mum” book, not really because of the design, but because both designs fit exactly into the book with no spare pages, which is very satisfying. The inlay on the Wish book was fantastic. The “Mum” book was in a book called “The Good Wife” by Leslie… I love the cover, and it made me laugh because my Mum is called Lesley but she’s extremely feisty and not at all in line with the pink frilly cover and title of the book!
Describe your business in three words
People, paper and print.
We just love your Folded Book creations Sue – and we adore your Creative Craft Classes too! Thanks so much for dropping by and telling us your story. You can find the Paperweight Products collection in store now.
See you at the shop x