Q&A with the Founder!
On behalf of May and myself, I would like to thank everyone who read our first blog post and introduced themselves to our amazing community here on the site. Hopefully over time, we will be able to continue further discussions in the comments, but for now let’s continue to reach out to each other over on instagram 😊 (@creatively_tash).
We only just recently celebrated the 4th anniversary of May Paper Co. which is a huge feat! 🎉 And coincides with the birthday celebration of the amazing boss babe herself. Seemed only fitting for this month’s post that we should learn more about the face behind the brand with a behind the scenes Q+A.
So let’s get started…
Alright May, so tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to open a planner & stationery store.
I think I have always known that I wanted my own stationery line/business of some sort. Growing up, I was obsessed with and collected kawaii stationery, like Sanrio. I was so inspired that I even started a scrapbook detailing different aspects of my brand including cute character ideas, the types of stationery I would have (notebooks, notepads and stickers) and even a mini layout of what I wanted my brick and mortar shop to look like. I think I even have that scrapbook lying around somewhere still!
Flash forward to 2014, I discovered the planning community and realised that I was not alone, and that there were thousands of other people who were also addicted to stationery. I started following all the planning style trends and trialled various inserts from different companies like Filofax, Kikki K, Midori, Kate Spade and sellers on Etsy. Each time, I found that I could never stick to an insert for the whole year, so I decided to design my own! When I posted flatlays of my spreads on Instagram, I would get questions about where I got them from. This eventually prompted me to open up an Etsy store, after much support and encouragement from friends in the planner community. And here we are now!
It’s been amazing watching your shop grow over the last few years. What do you think has been the biggest achievement to date since you first started back in 2018?
My biggest achievement to date would be being in a position to be able to give back to the community. At the beginning of 2020, Australia had raging bushfires that had affected many planner friends so I decided to create a sticker pack, where 100% of the proceeds was to go to the NSW RFS, who were bravely battling the fires. We managed to collectively raise over $1000! This was so incredible and I couldn't have done it without being in the position I was, with having my small business, as well as the support from everyone in the planner community.
What has been one of your favourite parts about owning your own business? Besides being your own boss of course ;)
I think that one of my favourite parts about owning my business is watching the business grow. I have gone from working, printing and packing orders on my dining room table to taking up almost half of our house (my family complains all the time haha). I've reinvested everything back into the business, especially on equipment to make my life easier. It's amazing to think that I started off with an entry level printer and hand punched all of the inserts one by one (RIP the many hole punches that broke)! I am definitely the type of person who thinks about their business 24/7 and is always researching new furniture/new equipment for it!
Here's my trusty guillotine that's been with me since the beginning. This is the manual punch that I use. I've worn down several of these since May Paper Co.
Here's the machine I upgraded to at the start of the year. It slices through a ream of paper like butter! No more trimming one page at a time!
Owning a business would have to come with its challenges. What is one thing you wish someone could have told you before you started May Paper Co.?
I wish that someone would have warned me how much I would be worrying about or thinking about my business. They say that once you go from a 9-5 to starting your own business, you'll have more flexibility; you work on your own hours, you'll have more time for yourself! But in reality, it's quite the opposite! I always catch myself thinking about my business late into the morning (insomnia is very frustrating) and not find it difficult to wind down after a long day.
Now don’t limit yourself okay? Dream big here. Where would you like to see May Paper Co. in the next few years?
I'd love to see May Paper Co. eventually stocked in physical stores. I think there's something nice about going into a physical store to see and touch a product before you buy it! Maybe even have a store in the States? A girl can dream!
I made a mock up of the store front to keep myself inspired (let's manifest this into reality!)
So May, how did you first discover planners and the community behind them?
I've always been exposed to planners since I was forced to use the school diaries all throughout primary and high school. However, I could never commit to them (I think it was because they were always bound diaries with set layouts you could customise).
I fell down the rabbit hole when I set my eyes on my first ringed bound planner, which was a Kikki K Lilac with gold diamonds. One of the staff members at Kikki K pointed me towards the Planner Addicts Australia group and I’ve been in the community and obsessed with planners ever since!
These were the first planners I had (there was also a pocket/small size which Kikki K has now discontinued). Photo courtesy of Letters in November.
What does your current planner lineup look like right now?
Over the course of the years, I've experimented with all sorts of planner sizes depending on my lifestyle and have figured out once and for all that I'm 100% a one planner girl - I can't juggle more than one planner (unless the other one isn't also used for scheduling e.g. project planning).
Currently I'm in an A5 rings planner as my everyday planner, which is perfect as it has much more real estate compared to the pocket and personal size (which I preferred back in my uni days as I was always on the go).
My current planner is an A5 rings planner. Looking back, I don't know how I was ever in a pocket sized planner once upon a time.
Is there any planner size or set up that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t had the opportunity to do so?
Everyone seems to be in the Mini HP lately, so I've been tempted to try that, but I think I've got planner peace in my A5 right now so I don't want to jinx myself haha.
Any words of advice for someone who is new to the community?
The best piece of advice I would give someone joining the planner community is to not go ham on all the latest trendy planner items! I'm sure a lot of us can relate to buying certain styles of planners after seeing someone on YouTube or Instagram.
Just because it’s trendy, doesn’t mean that it’ll work for your lifestyle. Or if you’d like to try it out, it's always good to check out the awesome Facebook destash groups – there’s always something you can grab for a bargain until you’ve figured out whether it works for you and before you start investing in those tools.
Words of wisdom for sure, thanks for sharing with us May! 🥰
If there is anything you would like to ask May yourself, please share your questions down below and maybe we can do a Q+A part two soon!
Still a lot more exciting things coming this way so continue to watch this space and make sure you’re following May over on Instagram @maypaperco
Happy anniversary xx
Honestly with you nothing but great success in this industry! So glad that I’ve stumble upon your account on TikTok, because the aesthetic and quality are exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Hi Monica – thank you so much! My biggest tip would be to go at a pace that you feel comfortable at. As easy as it can be (especially with social media), try not to compare your day one with someone else’s day 500. Everyone starts somewhere!
What an amazing journey. Well done on the hard work. It totally pays off. Any tips of wisdom to someone starting out in the planner and stationery biz? (Asking all the way from the UK) x
Sofie Tassis —
Thanks May for answering my questions!! I love that you have your ‘why’ and that your mum inspires you!!
Keep doing what you’re passionate about because I love it… xx
Hi Sofie – thank you so much for taking the time to read our blog post!
We must have fallen down into the planning rabbit hole at the very same time then! There definitely shouldn’t be any pressure to use all of your planners at the one time – think of them as shoes or bags, you don’t need to be wearing two of each at once, but it’s nice sometimes to switch it up depending on your lifestyle/mood.
Those are very good questions, Sofie! With regards to what keeps me going when things go wrong, it would have to be a combination of my love for stationery and customers. In a product-based business, a lot can go wrong when it comes to manufacturing/machinery/logistics and I’ve had many emotional breakdowns behind the scenes. I remind myself that it’s okay to feel the way I do (I’m only human after all) and then I’ll take a step back from the situation. Usually after taking a step back, I remember why I love doing what I do (creating beautiful stationery) and because of the joy I get being a part of the planner community – whether it comes from messages from planner friends checking in with me, being tagged unboxing videos etc. I think without both I would have stopped May Paper Co. a long time ago.
I understand that sometimes it’s very hard juggling all the hats in a small business yourself. I do now have some help from my family and friends, and I’m not sure how I survived without them before! My mum inspires me a lot, my parents have their own business and she has a very strong work ethic. I also follow a lot of other small business owners in the industry on Youtube as well (I find a lot of people in real life don’t relate to the stationery business side of things, so it feels less lonely that way!).
I hope I’ve answered all your thought-provoking questions Sofie 💕
Hi May and congratulations, what an amazing journey!
I remember having the Kikki-K lavender A5 too as my first planner!! At one stage I had 6 planners and ended up not using any… so I’m only using one and that’s your beautiful A5 ring planner and it’s perfect for my needs.
As a sole trader business woman myself, are you able to share what motivates you, what keeps you going when things go wrong? Who inspires you, especially working alone, and who supports and encourages you?
I love that you continue to dream 💜
Hi Annette, thank you for stopping by. Funnily enough, not quite! I majored in mechanical engineering for my Bachelor’s and then went on to do Applied Finance for my Masters. Let’s just say that they’re very expensive pieces of decor hanging on my wall right now haha. Would love to one day be in the States!
Hi May— Did you major in business or management in college. I hope you can one day open a shop in the US too!