Cuteness Alert! Giveaway & Interview with Ginko Papers

by Jessika Hepburn, Editor

ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

It’s Monday and what you need is a dose of extreme cuteness, a small biz success story + some retail therapy, right? Garin of Ginko Papers has you covered! Her shop is full of sweet Japanese papers, a huge selection of washi tape + all sorts of adorable Japanese collectables. She’s visiting us today to offer up a $50 shopping spree giveaway-but more importantly to let us in on her story and how she has grown her business. Ginko Papers has also had some great publicity from big names like Family Circle, Traditional Home, and the Today Show and Garin shares some thoughts on how she got into the spotlight. I caught up with Garin by email and we chatted about press, business, and mamahood-her answers were awesome & insightful. Garin is definitely an inspiring business owner, showing that doing what you love, and working hard at it, is a recipe for success.

Thanks for visiting us Garin! Please share a bit about you & your business, Ginko Papers

My husband is a software engineer and web developer and I’m a Japanese stationery addict. In 2008, he had an idea for building a retail website as a test and asked me if there was anything I’d like to do. I thought of Ginko Papers instantly. I always complained that I couldn’t find really unique stationery in the US. Ginko Papers is my way of bringing all that I love to a US customer base.

Your shop is full of adorable goodie-take us on a little tour and show off your favorites:

ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

One of my favorites and a best seller on our site is the Japanese Masking Tape. The most popular set is also one which was part of the original line that was launched in 2009. I call this one Classic Green.

I love Mini Bags. In Japan, you can find tons of small zipper pouches in every size, texture, and shape imaginable. The bags are meant to be used as pencil bags, but I use them for makeup and lipgloss. I have separate mini bags for different purses and different moods. One of my latest finds is a cute mini bag with a whimsical Red Riding Hood motif.

What started my website and my paper passion is Letter Sets. I never tire of the thrill of getting a beautiful letter set and looking at all the stylized details on the paper and envelopes. A great example is this is the Squirrel Collage Letter Set. It comes with a collage styled paper and glassine envelopes that show off the designs. Too cute!

Another fantastic Letter Set is this Spring Basket set.  The paper folds to become a basket and the glassine envelope has a lace pattern giving a nice effect to the layers of paper.

I can’t get enough of greeting cards. Before I had Ginko Papers, I’d go around various stationery stores and buy up ten cards at a time. You can see that I’m quite stocked up now. A darling group of animal pop-up cards has a warm spot in my collection. The bear, cat, and rabbit each pop-up in a bright floral setting to wish you a Happy Birthday! Here is the Cat Pop-Up Card.

Finally, a great category to browse through is More Finds. This is where all my special purchases from Japan find a home on our website. I pick up one-of-a-kind items form our travels – such as these mini geta shoes – or I buy up something so unique that I couldn’t keep to myself like these Cellophane Matryoshka Doll bags.

ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

3. Our businesses are like babies-they grow and change. How has Ginko Papers grown from the initial idea to today?

June 2008 – Had the spark to create Ginko Papers – a few crazy conversations later, my husband and I had made a game plan to start the project.

Sept 2008 – Gathered all the initial inventory to launch Ginko Papers and started photo shoots, web design, and content writing.

Dec 1, 2008 – Launched the Ginko Papers website

July 2009 – Our first press for our Japanese Masking Tape in Do It Yourself Magazine by Better Homes & Gardens

Oct 2009 – Our Japanese Masking Tape featured in Better Homes & Gardens

Nov 2009 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured on the Better Homes & Gardens website for their Holiday Buying Guide

April 2010 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was on the cover of Family Circle and featured in the magazine for Easter egg decorating. That was VERY exciting!

July 2010 – Our first time at the LA Gift Show. We started to branch out in wholesale at this show and our booth won the Outstanding Exhibitor Award!

Oct 2010 – the Today Show featured our Japanese Masking Tape for decorating no-carve Halloween pumpkins.

Nov 2010 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured in Storage Magazine by Better Homes & Gardens

Nov 2010 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured in Traditional Home Magazine. It was used to decorate an invitation for a dinner party shot for the article.

Winter 2011- Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured in Stationery Trends magazine.

Winter 2011 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured in the “Best of the New” section of Greetings etc.

Jan 2011 – Our second time exhibiting at the LA Gift Show. We had a great time and got a lot more customers placing orders who had just browsed our booth at the first show. That was very encouraging.

Feb 2011 – Our Japanese Masking Tape was featured in Traditional Home magazine – this time more prominently on its own.

Spring 2011 – Our first greeting card submission and feature in Greetings etc. They showed the felt & glitter birthday cake card.

Spring 2011 – Our first greeting card submission and feature in Stationery Trends. They showed the Matryoshka coaster card

May 2011 – Guest on Life Lessons Radio hosted by Rick Tocquigny

Future Plans:

July 2011 – LA Gift Show

August 2011 – NY International Gift Fair

Late Summer 2011 – Start work on our own line of greeting cards to be made in Japan.

ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

3. You’ve had some great press using your products-how have you spread the word about your business?

It’s been strange, but it’s a combination of not doing much , but doing tons at the same time. What I mean is, you can’t really seek this kind of press out. They have to reach out to you. In that regard, I didn’t do much. But what I’ve been doing since the launch of the website is getting the word out about Ginko Papers to the blog world. Design blogs, party planning blogs, decorating blogs, craft blogs…I do my best to write to all my favorites and introduce myself and my shop to them. Once I can get the story about Ginko Papers out there, I am always confident my products will speak for themselves if you visit the site. So I’m always making calls, writing emails, getting in touch with retail shops I love and hoping that our items find new homes.

4. Our theme on OMHG this month is Celebrating Mamahood, we’d love to know if you’ve been influenced by either parenting or another mama in your life

Ginko Papers and Mamahood came into my life at the same time. A few months before launching Ginko Papers, I became pregnant and hence started my morning sickness which last ed all day, every day. It wasn’t fun, but having a few hundred product descriptions to write kept me busy and kept my mind off my physical discomfort. When our daughter was born in May 2009, Ginko Papers had been around for a six months, but it wasn’t until then that I really learned what it means to “juggle!” But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Starting a business is like starting a family – but the family part is much, much more important. Another part to Mamahood in my life is my mother and mother-in-law. With their help and support, I’ve been able to make time for trade shows, business trips, and work. They’re a huge part of my support system and help me endlessly with my daughter. We’re all in the Mamahood loop together!

ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

5. Sometimes it can be crazy being both a mama & small business owner! How do you balance motherhood & business? (some time management examples or talking about if you work at home w/ kids full time or if you have childcare etc…)

My husband and I both work from home, so it’s important for me to keep things tidy – both in our home and our lives. I find it very useful to keep the house organized since we are in it 24/7. Having a little one means we have tons of toys. I try to keep the toys in a basket under the coffee table in the living room and keep the rest in her room. That way, we don’t feel too cluttered. During the day, our daughter goes to daycare. When I pick her up, I try to engage with her until putting her to sleep. So we keep the office door closed and that way she stays out – too much paperwork for her to get into – and we stay out too!

Usually, after putting her to sleep around 8pm, my husband and I relax in the living room, sometimes we catch up on work or we just watch a movie.

We started this pattern in October 2010 and have been very happy with it. So during the day, we don’t have any distractions and “go to work” and in the early evening get back into our family life. Our daughter has been happier too because she gets to engage with people and kids all day long. By 4pm, we are all happy to come together again after a productive day.
ginko papers, japanese washi tape, kawaii, japanese paper, small business success

Isn’t Garin a sweetie? She’s also generous & has offered you a chance to win a $50 shopping spree in her shop full of goodies!

Enter to win by visiting Ginko Papers and letting us know below how you would spend your $50

Get extra entries by (leave a separate comment for each 1 comment=1 entry)

  • Liking Ginko Papers on Facebook
  • Leaving a comment about Garin’s story & interview
  • Tweeting about this giveaway (be sure to mention @ohmyhandmade)
  • Posting this giveaway to your Facebook wall (please tag @oh my handmade-you have to like us first)
  • Blogging about this giveaway with a link back to this post

This giveaway closes next Sunday, May 23rd at midnight EST with the winner announced Monday,  May 24th at the bottom of this post.

by entering this giveaway you are agreeing to the oh my! handmade goodness giveaway policies

This giveaway is now CLOSED! Congratulations to Connie with comment #66


75 comments

  1. Simone says:

    Oh, the Japanese masking tape reminds me of something that my Grandma used to seal Xmas presents with when I was a little girl 🙂

    I would love some of the notebooks too! Every Mama I know needs to keep lists handy.

  2. Jodes says:

    Your story is truly an inspiration indeed! What a blessing! I visited your site & I love everything! As a person who loves Japanese stationery as well, I’m so happy I’m now able to purchase such items thru a lovely site like yours 🙂

  3. Jodes says:

    If I won your giveaway I’d probably buy $50 worth of anything (there isn’t anything I DON’T like at your shop!) & give some away for gifts to those I know that have the same interests, plus direct them to your online shop as well.

  4. NaDell says:

    I love the Sparkling Cherry Blossom Card. It reminds me of the cards my friend Satoko sends me from Japan. She came to my high school my senior year as an exchange student 11 years ago.

  5. Dyan says:

    Inspiring interview – I was so excited to be introduced to this website. I love the style and sweet japanese notions. My favourites are the Hello Kitty mini boxes, the geisha cards,the water lily fan card and Geisha Mini Letter set.

  6. Natalie says:

    Oh my cuteness! My favourite is the stationary~ it is so hard to find any these days! I have penfriends from when I was a teen overseas and I love to keep up the writing with beautiful stationary :o)
    Thanks for the interesting & inspiring article~ see some peep can work at home and be organised!!

  7. tomae says:

    I have a love affair with the Japanese Kawaii because every thing is unique, small, cute… I would like one of each! Ok, more practical – I love the mini geta shoes!!!! I would have to get a couple – one for myself and then for the nieces!! I love the tape! I would have to have several colors….

    Thank you for bringing a little Japan to the States!!

  8. tiffany says:

    lovely interview! i’m a lifelong hoarder of japanese stationery, so if i’m the lucky winner i’d probably spend it all on masking tape… well, ok, i’d also pick up the super-cute three little pigs stationery set too. one more won’t hurt. 🙂

  9. Cyndy says:

    I visit little ladies in nursing a nursing home who have no visitors. I would purchase the fruity coaster cards to bring them smiles. The coasters would be useful at their bedsides as well.
    Congrats on your success!

  10. Angie says:

    I would love to have an assortment of greeting cards. I don’t know about you all, but I find myself needing a card all the time! Ginko’s are just lovely. The colors…the prints…I truly love them all.

  11. Leah says:

    I like her tip about staying organized since they are working at home. Also, it sounds like they have a great system with their daughter attending daycare. Closing the office door is a great tip to focus on family time.

  12. Bernice says:

    I love reading about the process of building up small businesses. I’m hoping that one day I might have one as well, but for now I live vicariously through other people’s success. Thanks for sharing your story!

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