Welcome to our first Artisaire Pro Partner Spotlight. We are so excited to be featuring Mahshed from PaperOcelot Studios, so without further ado…here is our interview with Mahshed:
“Hello from the heart of the Canadian Prairies, Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Mahshed from PaperOcelot here, welcoming you from the Land of the Living Skies!”
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What is your background? How did you start your business?
“After graduating from the Alberta College of Art and Design, with a major in Video Game Design and a minor in Graphic Design, I spent a year in Japan, hopping from city to city learning local arts and crafts. After my stay in Japan, I moved to Victoria, BC, where I started my creative journey as a graphic designer and fine arts reproductions manager for a local print shop and gallery.
From there I took my graphic design and 3D animation skills to a start up tech company, where I designed websites and user interfaces for digital signage, CRM platforms, info-graphics, branding guidelines, and manuals. All very glamorous work! After moving around the country a few times, with my husband’s military career, we settled in Saskatoon, Sask, where I started PaperOcelot.”
What is your “Why” – Why do you do what you do?
“There are two things I love about my job; 1, visual and creative problem solving and 2, working with couples who are in love. The first one has always been my passion, it’s that AH moment when things just come together, it has always been my drive as an artist and designer.
But the second one, that’s unique to the wedding industry. Being constantly surrounded by love, creating things with love, talking to couples who are in love and planning for their future. Seeing the beautiful day come together, all the happy faces and stunning couples. And of course, the after! The family that is built, their first Christmas, their first baby!
Even though I’m only a small part of the wedding adventure, I get to know all my couples and be a part of their lives and it’s special! It’s euphoric! It’s my Ikigai!”
Spilling The Tea
What was the pivotal moment when you decided to start your own business?
“After we moved to Saskatoon, I was hit with serious depression from the loneliness and isolation.
We had moved around so much with the military, that building a community and group of friends weren’t in the cards for me. I wanted to get rid of all my art and craft supplies, so I started giving them away on Instagram, sending strangers my beloved tools.
I started to get letters back from those strangers who become pen friends and I spent the next two years writing to hundreds of people all around the world. My hand writing and spelling was terrible, and I wanted to improve it so I could send more beautiful letters to my new friends. My husband got me a calligraphy set, and encouraged me to start, so I used my letters as a way to practice calligraphy, addressing envelopes, using wax seals, vintage postage, and handmade paper.
Eventually I improved my calligraphy and started to do some commissions for business, vows & spot calligraphy, but didn’t really think about getting into wedding stationery. It actually took someone telling me I couldn’t make and sell wedding stationery, that really pushed me to prove I could.”
What has been your biggest struggle or challenge to date? And how did you overcome it?
“Isolation has been my biggest struggle. Being in a province & small town, devoid of any calligraphers or stationers for the first 3 years, had been a real struggle to learn and build my business.
It has been a challenge within my own growth but an even greater challenge educating my local area, vendors, and couples. I relied very heavily on the wonderful friendships and community I built on Instagram, but nothing beats face-to-face interactions with your peers.
I have been forcing myself out of my comfort zone and building networks, working with local suppliers to order correct tools, teaching workshops and doing talks, in hopes of laying a foundation for others in my area who want to get in this industry, so that they don’t have to feel the same isolation. And… I also struggle with dyslexia, so that will always be a MAJOR challenge for me!”
- Favorite Stationery Trend? Wax Seals & Handmade Paper
- What is your best stationery tip or trick? There is no shame in owning more glue guns than your local craft shop. Be proud of your little row of sticky soldiers! One color, one gun, that’s what I always say. Until I come up with a way to clean out a glue gun without any waste, I will keep adding to my collection!
- The font you love the most? Optima Regular
- Where do you draw inspiration from? Nature walks, art galleries, museums, and video games
Thank You, PaperOcelot!
This concludes our very first Artisaire Pro Partner Spotlight! Thank you so much Mahshed for your thoughtful and intentional answers – we loved learning more about you, your story and background, and how PaperOcelot became.
Check out PaperOcelot’s Instagram page here!
We are looking forward to Part Two of the PaperOcelot Spotlight, next week!
The Artisaire Pro Team