Before you ask yourself what is The Paperie By Katie Williams Design Company, ask first what isn’t The Paperie By Katie Williams Design Company.
When walking into Suite 201 at 89 Dunlop St. E. if at first you’re not greeted by the friendly smiles of the staff at the desk, you are completely in awe of the amount of unique gifts, paper, stationery and greeting cards The Paperie has. With a very open set-up, the Paperie has just about everything one could want to capture that one-in-a-million wedding gift or special-day surprise. Owner Katie Williams and her business partner Michelle Hannon opened the shop up on Mother’s Day weekend of this year and has been busy ever since.
“Our retail store focuses on everything paper,” said Williams. “We have the paper mobiles, Japanese paper, crepe paper for paper flowers and we source as much as we can from Canadian suppliers and especially our greeting cards which are 100 per cent Canadian; there are so many awesome Canadian designers and artisans whose products we sell here. Our main thing for the paper side of things is weddings and we won Barrie’s Best Weddings Invitations last year and we’re up for it again this year so we’re really doing well in that regard.”
But as it says in the name of the company, The Paperie is way more than just cool paper and gifts as it’s also the place to get your company branding done as Katie Williams Design Company mixes in a graphic design background with the shop so as to bring small business owners all that they need to get off the ground.
“The Paperie side of it was an expansion just because we were heading down to Toronto for all the things that we love in terms of the creative so we now have a full store in here and have a whole wedding collection as we specialize in wedding invitations and day-of stationery to help brides with pretty much every budget,” said Williams. “But my love is graphic design and we specialize in working with small and medium size businesses on their branding, marketing and website development. I have a wide collection of clients from real estate agents to health care specialists, as well as some designers who have come to me to get their website up and running; it’s an amazing feeling as a business owner to see other businesses thrive and get going.”
With a company slogan of Be Inspired, paper and graphic design are simply two-thirds of what downtown Barrie’s newest everything-on-the-spot location does. With arguably the best view in the city, The Paperie also acts as a meeting place and creative workshop area. With a co-working and rental area on site, The Paperie acts as a hub for anyone looking to get away and be creative without distraction. Large meeting tables placed by the huge windows over-looking Kempenfelt Bay are a popular spot for small business owners as are the two more private rooms for those looking to hold conferences or just be tucked away for a creative session.
“We were coming in every day and being totally inspired by the view of the lake and Memorial Square that we figured instead of making this more retail space we could offer it to others who need to be inspired,” said Williams. “We felt almost guilty hogging this space to ourselves so it’s nice to open it up to others. We also use the space for really fun workshops that pertain what we do such as tabletop floral arrangements, learning how to work with watercolours and how to do brush calligraphy. We have great times with those.”
Despite looking like an over-night success, the immaculate looking location was seven years in the making. Williams shared an office in the plaza at Dunlop and Mulcaster for two years before moving above another business on Dunlop later. During her second pregnancy, Williams chose to scale back and work from home for eight months. The call of downtown Barrie was too strong and when the current location became available, Williams jumped on it.
“There is something about downtown Barrie that makes me feel at home and I knew that if our vision wasn’t going to work here it wasn’t going to work,” said Williams. “I’m originally from Eastern Ontario, as east as you can get without going into Quebec, but this is an attraction I can’t explain. It’s a hub of creativity down here and really has become what a downtown should be and that’s the centre of a city. When we found out this location was ready for a tenant, it was about a fifteen day turnaround from ‘hey maybe we should do this idea’ to ‘we are doing this idea’.”
While one might look at The Paperie retail shop, meeting space and Katie Williams Design Company as a lot to take on at once, Williams knows that by doing it she has created a great business by working hard and staying firm in her vision despite the obstacles and tough lessons along the way.
“At the start of all this, I’m a graphic designer,” said Williams. “Adding all this other stuff into the mix with brick and mortar certainly brought challenges and anything we hadn’t been trained in was so new obviously. Setting up a retail store was new as we’re designers and used to setting up meetings and being business to business which is not the same as purchasing inventory and managing all of that. We haven’t really had staff though I brought in a designer who I met in college and is my best friend as well as my business partner. She and I have had to learn together about all that it is to running a business and shop while juggling life. All in all though this entire process has been amazing and I can’t say enough about being downtown and the connection I feel to it, it is a big part of our personality.”
If you’re looking for something to do today, check out Bump Days from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The event runs every last Wednesday of the month and is geared towards those expecting and has vendors with baby products for you to browse. Another date to mark on the calendar is the Grand Opening Networking Party on September 20. For more information on The Paperie By Katie Williams Design Company, check out their websites here and here.