by Jessika Hepburn, Editor
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:
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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