Handcrafted Papers Prove a Big Hit with Brides-to-Be

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Decorative papers offer unique, thoughtful look for those planning weddings, receptions and special events.

We're fortunate to have hit upon this idea and for it to take off as well as it has.

For Shelly Gardner-Alley, the idea to start a specialty paper store online was a way to target the blossoming paper arts and crafts market. "I had done web design and e-commerce development for a number of years and decided that I would like to build a web based business of my own instead of just designing them for other people." With that in mind, she set about to find a product she would enjoy selling; and the rich, colorful, specialty papers she had worked with proved just the ticket. "I started out in graphic design and loved working with various paper stocks that offered different tones and textures. I had come across some hard-to-find decorative papers that worked well for scrap books and invitations and other unique applications, so I began ordering some and putting them online."

What happened next surprised even the veteran site builder. "As our selection of papers grew, more and more brides-to-be began contacting us in search of something unusual... papers with thread woven in, and bark bits, and flower petals and feather weight tissue papers to layer and wrap around traditional printed pieces. There's a trend now to express both uniqueness and thoughtfulness in invitations and one way to do that is by taking the time to design your own invitations made from specialty papers".

Wedding planners have also seized upon the trend, using the papers as a theme and utilizing it from the invitations to the ceremony - right through to the reception. "We have people using the invitation paper for programs, table decorations, centerpieces, escort cards and guest books as well. That's why they really like the handcrafted stocks. With them, you can make everything match and develop a theme."

The papers themselves come from as far away as India, Thailand, France, Italy, Japan and Nepal as well as local US hand crafters. "We're a business founded by women, catering to women and supporting women", Gardner-Alley stated. She runs the business with her daughter. "A lot of these papers are created by women in small cottage industries throughout the developing world. This supports their efforts while providing an outstanding example of the creativity and craftsmanship these women possess."

Patterns run from vintage elegance to modern simplicity; and as exotic as Japanese silk screened Chiyogami prints to translucent mulberry paper. "The diversity in styles, colors and countries represented allows wedding planners to visually display the merging of the cultures of the bride and groom in the wedding stationary and reception theme" Gardner-Alley continued.

The web site itself (http://PaperMojo.com) is rich with photos and ways to browse the many choices. "We've gotten this far with no big ad budget to speak of, it's just been word of mouth and a smattering of pay-per-click advertising." This has Gardner-Alley concerned as the wedding season heats up. "There's a tendency to wait until the last possible moment, so we're encouraging our brides-to-be to order early." Excitement over the site has helped the two owners to turn a part time passion into full time fun. "We're fortunate to have hit upon this idea and for it to take off as well as it has." As far as future growth, Gardner-Alley intends to take on more and more selection as resources allow. "We'd like to be the source of unique and decorative papers for both invitation designers and crafters." For a company named Paper Mojo, they seem to be making all the right moves.

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Shelly Gardner-Alley
Paper Mojo
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