Our Founder, Annabel St. John, wanted to own her own business and be her own boss. So, in 1997, with a seven month old baby in tow, she purchased a small printing company called Thistle Calligraphy. When she called to register her new company, the woman on the phone kept thinking she was saying "Whistle" Calligraphy. No!.... She new this was going to be a common problem so quickly re-named it, right there on the spot, to Hunter Calligraphy, named after her new son, Hunter.
Got pregnant with her second child, tore down her house to rebuild a new, bigger house all while running her business from the basement suite she was living in and renting while the new build was happening.
Gave birth to her second son, Hamish, and moved into the new house. She now graduated from the basement to her very own, main floor, 10' x 10' office (it's amazing what you can do in 100 sqr feet)!
The famous stationery chain Kate's Paperie, of New York, called to say they wanted to carry PaperQueen cards in all five of their Manhatten locations. We were now on the map. (Game changer #1)
InStyle magazine printed a third of a page spread on their Object of Desire page, that's a lot in the printing world, on PaperQueen. When we found out this was going to happen we had to create our first website, fast! We did it in three weeks. (Game changer #2)
On a whim we shipped some samples to the buyers of Neiman Marcus, at the time, the God's of the stationery world. They wrote back, yes, mailed a letter, on paper, asking for a meeting in New York. She hopped on a plane and met with five Neimans buyers at the National Stationery Show. After the meeting, they decided to choose PaperQueen as their first Canadian greeting card company to be showcased and sold online. They also showcased seven different PaperQueen products on seven different pages in their stationery catalogue. And to top it all off, they put a picture of a PaperQueen hand glittered card ON THE FRONT COVER of their stationery catalogue. (Massive game changer #3)
The stationery business was booming, PaperQueen continued to create beautiful invitations and personalized social stationery. We began noticing a slight decline in sales and thought we needed to make more of an effort in the market.
PaperQueen made their debut appearance at the National Stationery Show in New Your, attracting many new vendors, being nominated for Best New Stationery Line and landing a key new vendor, Papyrus, who operates 450 locations throughout Canada and the United States.
Even thought sales were strong, we couldn't ignore the fact that the internet was directly impacting the stationery and invitation business. Why would people continue to write and mail when they could simply text or email for free?