Today we’d like to introduce you to Jenna Puente.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jenna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I had been hand painting greeting cards for friends and family for years, customized for them usually with their favorite animal and a punny phrase. Everyone always loved the cards and I discovered that they’d often get framed. Shortly after I graduated college, I got the opportunity to have a table at a small local art walk. While brainstorming ideas of what to sell at my table, I realized that my greeting cards were always well received and would be the perfect, affordable piece of art to sell. So, I drew ten animals wearing party hats, traced each drawing onto cards, and hand painted every one! The cards sold out and I was addicted to the feeling that people actually wanted to buy my art. (Fun fact: a few cards from this first Party Animals series are still in my line to this day!) Eventually, I realized that this little hand-painted side hustle was what I wanted to be doing, streamlined a few things (no more painting each individual card, ha!), and Paper Wilderness was born in 2014. Since then, I’ve been busy expanding my line and trying to get my paper goods into as many hands as possible!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There have definitely been obstacles along the way, but a better way to look at them is as problems that need solving. There is always a solution! From outsourcing my printing to doing my first cross country trade show, there have been lots of struggles and issues that I had to figure out. One struggle that I’ve been dealing with since Day 1 is running my business out of the dining room of my apartment! With smart inventory ordering and organization, however, I’ve been able to make it work. To any of my fellow women starting out on their own business journeys, I would highly recommend getting involved in their local small business and craft fair scene. I’m lucky to have met so many amazing women throughout the years while participating in craft fairs and pop-ups, they totally understand this small biz life and are there to vent to and troubleshoot problems with. Chances are any issue that I’m dealing with, one of them has been there and will have a suggestion for me. So, make friends and build an awesome, supportive network of women around you, it’s the best!
What should we know about Paper Wilderness? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Paper Wilderness is a hand painted, hand-lettered watercolor paper goods studio based in Long Beach. It revolves around my lifelong love of animals, so every design is animal and nature-based, with the occasional silly pun. I feel like animals and the natural world are a universal love language, symbols of purity that every human can appreciate and admire. That’s why they’re the perfect subjects for my work and the goal of uniting people and encouraging communication and togetherness. I’m extremely proud of the fact that literally every product has been illustrated and lettered by me. I just love how every single product exists on an actual piece of paper somewhere in my studio. I think this handmade process lends a certain intimate feeling or emotion to my work, which is definitely what I’m going for. I want my customers to feel like my own friends and family did when I first started, like I made this card just for them.
Do you have a lesson or advice you’d like to share with young women just starting out?
You got this girl! Seriously, just actually starting your business is half the battle. How many people do you know who talk about doing this or starting that, and then never actually do it? I know quite a few. So pat yourself on the back and get yourself a support group of small business women that you can bounce ideas off of, ask questions, and hang out with. Actually, you probably won’t really hang out because you’re so busy running your business, haha. But the great thing is that they understand because they’re in the exact same boat as you!
- Greeting cards are $5 each or 5 for $20
- Website: www.paperwilderness.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepaperwilderness
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/PaperWilderness