Editor’s note: Made in Tarrant is an occasional Q&A series on small businesses started in Tarrant County. Submit your business here.

Paper Planet

Who? Julie West, 57, is the founder of Paper Planet.

When? West started her business at home back on Dec. 2, 2001. Her first brick-and-mortar store opened in 2003.

Where? The store is located at 6515 E. Lancaster Ave. Fort Worth, TX. 

What? Paper Planet offers a variety of custom-designed paper products, including but not limited to:

  • Programs
  • Welcome signs
  • Guestbooks
  • Bar signs
  • Custom napkins
  • Cups and coasters
  • Escort cards
  • Place cards
  • Placemats
  • Menus
  • Table numbers
  • Seating chart
  • Reception signage
  • Food tents
  • Favor tags
  • Stickers
  • Thank you cards
  • Welcome box notes
  • Hand drawn maps
  • Pet portraits
  • Wedding party gifts
  • Hotel door hangers
  • Water bottle labels

Contact:

817-451-8898

Paperplanetdesign.com

6515 E. Lancaster Ave. Fort Worth, TX 76112

hello@paperplanetdesign.com 

Julie West is the founder of Paper Planet and spoke with the Fort Worth Report’s Sandra Sadek about her business. 

Sadek: When did you start this business?

West: I started out of my house. I was just designing and doing custom invitations. I had always wanted to own a store but didn’t know if there would really be a market for it. So then I decided, ‘OK, it’s now or never,’ and took the leap. So started in this shopping center in 2003.

I never ever wanted to get into the wedding industry. I mean, that wasn’t my goal. That’s actually just where it led me. And it is actually wonderful, because people have these visions for their weddings or special events, and we get to set the tone for that with the invitation. So that’s pretty exciting. 

A lot of times we’ll do the invitation and then, when they have their first baby, we’ll do the baby (announcement). We’ve had a lot of customers that we’ve had since the beginning, and now we’re doing their college graduation invitations and their high school invitations because we’ve done the kids’ birthdays since they were born, and it’s just neat that we’ve been around long enough to watch that whole cycle.

Sadek: What makes designing your own invitations in person so different than just ordering something online?

West: We love having that connection and relationship with customers so that we can just develop that connection, and really try to get at ‘what is it that you’re trying to represent?’ Sit down and talk with us, tell us everything about it, and we pull all that together and show it to you. And they go, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what I wanted. But I didn’t know how to say it.’ So it’s a lot about relating to them and expressing that as an invitation. And what’s really cool, too, is that, in my opinion, everybody deserves good design. So if you come in and say I have a budget for this, we can show you, ‘OK, here’s what you can get in that budget,’ and still try to get something amazing. Or maybe you don’t even have a budget, but just want to blow it out of the water. So we cover all that, a whole spectrum of that. So we can do things within a tighter budget that still look amazing. Or we can do things that are ridiculous. And we love it because we see it as a challenge.

Here you can feel the weight, the texture, actually see what you’re getting. We’ve had someone come in, and bought it online. Everything was described one way and then what they ended up getting was completely different. And so they came to us … we gave them some options of ‘Here’s how you can work with what you have, but dress it up a bit.’ And they just asked to start over.

What I do tell people is that please, please look online too. But please ask for samples first before you do that to know exactly what you’re getting. Then they can come in and we educate them about paper weight, paper poundage, ink processes, all of that just because it is not something you do every day.

Sadek: In this post-COVID-19 era, how has business been?

West: So all of the COVID-19 weddings that were rescheduled have all, for us anyway, happened. Now those have cycled through. And we’ve just been really busy, we’ve been busier than we ever have. So it’s been really wonderful. I’m really glad we were able to hold on during that time, through COVID-19, and come back. We use that time during COVID-19 to rework our website, to rework our ordering procedures just to kind of do a whole rehaul in hopes that it would come back, and so it’s come back stronger than ever. 

Sadek: That’s good to hear! Anything else you want to mention?

West: I still love coming to work every day. And I love the creative challenge of it. I love being able to see the creativity of someone and what they want to express and putting it on paper and designing that. I think following what your passion or what you really dig is, you really just have to push and try to do it. 

And for me, people have been put in my path to help me. If you keep doing what it is you feel like you need to do and work hard and do the things that you need to, people will be put in your path to help you, and I’ve been incredibly fortunate.

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at sandra.sadek@fortworthreport.org or follow her on Twitter at @ssadek19. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Sandra SadekBusiness Reporter

Sandra Sadek is a Report for America corps member, covering growth for the Fort Worth Report. Originally from Houston, she graduated from Texas State University where she studied journalism and international...