Andrea Williams

OWNER, PAISLEY PAPER CO. / ANDREA DESIGNS LLC

I am a woman of color in the stationary industry, a sector that significantly lacks diversity. A fundamental aspect of my business and life is to expose people of color to this industry and highlight their contributions to the craft as well as crafts more generally.

What inspired you to start your business?

Crazy as it sounds, but my business actually started from an Instagram post. I posted an image of my handwriting and began to get all sorts of inquiries about calligraphy services. I’d done calligraphy in the past, but never to the level of being able to sell it. After a few fun commissions, I started to see that I could turn it into a business. It came at the perfect time. I stare at a screen for a large part of my day. I was itching to get back to creating art with my hands again.

What is something you would say to someone who is struggling in their first few years of business? Is there something you struggled with and learned from in those first few years?

So often businesses get started without much of a structure and before you know it, things are taking off and you’re scrambling to get everything in order. This was my mistake. I didn’t expect my business to pick up as fast as it did and I quickly realized that I needed a lot of help administratively. I managed to find professional support in this area which not only relieved a lot of stress but also allowed me to focus more on my strengths: creating and making products I love. And so, if someone is struggling with their new business, I would recommend that they consult other professionals (such as an accountant or attorney) before things get too out of hand.

What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?

I enjoy going to record stores and looking for obscure albums. I also love road trips, especially when I’m traveling to a warmer climate or the beach. Outside of these activities, I really try to just get rest and recharge since I’m usually working on one of my businesses outside of my regular day job. It’s so important to just be and allow yourself to do whatever feels right.

Image Credit: Haakim Walker haakimwalker.com @haakimwalkerphoto