This week I interviewed a great small business: @anakarenlovespaper !
1.Tell me a little about yourself:
“My name is Ana Karen Romero. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I am a daughter of Mexican immigrants. And I really, really love paper. I was the kid who preferred crafting, paper, and markers over playing tag. I eat up all things paper and stationery. I touch and stare at the menu in restaurants for too long (or at least used to, in the before times). I can spend a lot of time in stationery stores, where half of the time a little Ana in horns is telling me to buy 12 more pens, and the other half of the time is a little Ana in a halo, reassuring me that buying only one pen is OK. While I love all things stationery, cards have a special place in my heart because they’re a way to express myself. The right words may not come out in the moment, but the art of letter writing allows me to reflect, and to express.”
2. What made you want to start making cards?
“I actually started making and selling cards in high school! When I was a teenager, I became obsessed with a scrapbooking store that opened up near my home. As I dove into the hobby, card making came naturally. Friends, teachers, and family bought my cards, and for a while, I thought this would be my career path: mass producing cards to sell at stores like Papyrus (RIP Papyrus). I went to college to major in business, and in the process, I changed my mind about my card company dreams. I never strayed far from paper, though. Before graduation, I started interning at a paper company, in their purchasing department. I learned so much about paper and the industry, plus I got to play with samples! Being around so much paper eye candy geared up my creative juices again. I started making invitations for family parties, and Ana Karen Loves Paper was born as a blog idea. My goal was to share the invitations I create, along with other stationery content I enjoyed. When I decided I wanted to pursue entrepreneurship, I shifted my focus from marketing a custom invitation service, to making and selling handmade cards.”
3. What are your top 2 best selling products and why do you think are so popular?
“El Corazón and La Muerte are my two top selling cards. These card designs are inspired by the Mexican bingo game, Lotería, which I think it’s part of the reason they are so popular. I’m absolutely smitten when the abuelas stop and smile at one of these cards. People like to see their culture represented, and I’m happy that AKLP cards remind people of times spent playing Lotería around the table. The sayings are also so sweet, which is another reason I think people love them so much. El Corazón card translates to “I love you with all of my heart” and La Muerte card translates to “I love you until death.”
4. Do you do custom orders and if so can you walk through the process of it?
“Yes! I take custom orders, with a minimum of 25 identical units. This is perfect for someone who wants invitations, or a business that wants a custom card to sell in store. I split the process into three parts: the Designing, the Prototyping, and the Making. I start the Design with direction from you: what do you need (a thank you card, an invitation, etc), and what theme. I mock up designs using the Cricut software, and finalize the mock up with you. Prototyping is my favorite part, because I pull out my swatch books. I’ll look for the paper that will work best for your design. I look at hue, texture, thickness, etc. In some cases, I may need to test cut everything first, to make sure I can build the piece just how I imagined it. The Making is usually the easiest part, because I’ve figured everything out already, and I approach it like an assembly line. Typically, it takes 2-4 weeks for turnaround. For a more involved piece, like a wedding invitation suite, I’d need about 8 weeks.”
5. Do you have any exciting news or events that you would like to share?
” Since I’ve started my business, I’ve expanded to include other stationery goods. I try to source as much as possible from other small makers, with a focus on BIPOC and women-led brands. Of course my cards are the heart and soul, and I’m so excited to announce that I’ll be debuting a wholesale catalog soon! I dream of boutiques across the US stocking AKLP cards, and this tool will make it easier to reach that dream. If you have any shops where you think AKLP cards would be a good fit, let me know so I can send them a catalog when it’s ready.”
If you like to learn more about Ana Karen’s Shop. The following contact is below: