Courtney of Pleasant Avenue Paper Co. fills us in on her background, her favorite customer memory & how she overcomes challenges of being a makers, turning them into benefits! Thanks for taking over, Courtney! Let’s meet the maker!
Meet the Maker
Why did you turn to your handmade craft and business?
YouTube taught me calligraphy. Inspired to learn how for my wedding in 2013, I took to the internet. I watched hours of tutorials, read books and tested dozens of inks and nibs. After my wedding, requests for handmade pieces came rolling in. Eventually, Pleasant Avenue Paper Co. was born and I now make lovely handmade cards and whimsical paintings for customers' special events around the world. And I do it all from my kitchen table. Imagine that!
My handmade business has always been a creative outlet and escape from the stresses of my full-time career. When I first opened my Etsy shop, I was working in journalism at a newspaper choosing the international and national news stories. The task was incredibly serious and emotionally taxing given the all the sad news in the world. Filling orders and working on art projects helped me maintain a sunny disposition. I’m now in a much happier field, but I’m also juggling my career and being a first-time mom. Even if I’m not an Etsy shop owner forever, you can bet I will never stop creating my art.
What are a few benefits and challenges of being a handmade artisan?
The greatest benefit is becoming a member of the maker community. Locally and online, I’ve met amazing and inspiring ladies just like me. They’re making beautiful creations while juggling the realities of life. I’m always amazed by the kindness of other artists at markets who help me set up or artists online who’ve shared my website with their followers. They always start out as strangers, but quickly become friends.
The greatest challenge has been staying true to myself and my product. I make all my paper goods by hand. No printing. This is intentional and meaningful to me – however, I’m often tempted to abandon my handmade mantra in favor of ease or cheapen my product to fit in on Instagram. I’ve come to realize it’s not worth it. Another challenge as an artist is protecting your brand. I’ve seen my designs and ideas stolen even within my local community. It’s frustrating and demoralizing. But hey, like Beyonce says, “I’mma keep runnin’ ‘cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”
Do you have a favorite memory surrounding your craft, company, and customers?
The handmade nature of my work makes it deeply personal. I recently had a customer order a one-year anniversary card for her husband. A year earlier, she had ordered a card from me for her wedding day. My designs have become a tradition for her. Another customer had me work on a custom piece honoring her late child after a miscarriage. It’s beyond rewarding to know that these little paintings, these cards I create at my kitchen table become a memorable part of someone else’s life. They become cherished keepsakes. It’s amazing.