In the Cards-- |
A Q&A with Paula Cheng-Mehta, Founder of Paula & Waffle, a stationery and design brand
Paula Cheng-Mehta always had a love of drawing but it was a graphic design class that sparked her decision to start Paula & Waffle. Now she creates whimsical stationery and designs inspired by family, friends and her dog, Waffle.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in Maplewood, New Jersey with my family and our two Havanese dogs, Waffle and Oreo. In addition to being obsessed with all things paper, I'm also a huge foodie and love traveling. I feel super lucky that I'm able to spend my work days doing something that I love - illustrating and creating stationery!
Have you always been interested in drawing and illustrating?
Yes! I always loved school contests and assignments and really developed an early interest after I won a book fair poster design contest in elementary school! I was also lucky enough to go to art camp during some of my middle school and high school summers. I especially love the creative side of illustrating - how to draw something in a way that is unique and makes people think twice, yet is accessible at the same time.
How did you get started?
I worked in ad tech for several years out of college. I enjoyed working for some really amazing companies, but I always felt a creative itch. I took a continuing education graphic design class at Parsons in NYC, loved it, and decided that I was going to quit my start-up job and start a stationery business. I ended up taking the plunge, but business during the first year was slow, so I actually went back to working in ad tech and considered giving up the dream.
Crazily enough, Paula & Waffle began to take off right after I started working in tech again, and our first trade show gave us enough momentum for me to go back to running Paula & Waffle full time.
What has been the most challenging aspect of starting your business? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspects of starting this business have been learning to trust my instincts, as well as putting myself out there via my work. I suffered from a lot of self doubt at the beginning, wondering if I really knew what I was doing, if my work was good enough and if I could really self my art for a living.
Luckily, our work has been well-received and I enjoy hearing people's reactions to seeing or receiving one of our greeting card designs. I love the thought of bringing joy to as many people as we possibly can via our cards and designs.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
My designs are first and foremost inspired by our sweet brindle-white Havanese dog Waffle, who was a gift to me from my husband. I strive to incorporate his sweetness in all of my work and am also inspired by our love for traveling, food, and music.
We used to live in NYC where we would often spend afternoons
in the park, sketching away, inspired by the energy and events of the city.
Is there a favorite childhood memory that you think shaped who you are today?
I grew up in Nashville and have lots of childhood memories of playing in the sunshine and running around in the forest climbing trees, building forts, catching tadpoles, and making up fun stories and adventures.
I don't spend as much time as I'd like to outdoors these days, but I think that playing outside and exploring the outdoors as a young child really helped to develop my imagination and creativity in a way that continues to influence me today, especially in my illustration work.
What advice do you wish you had before starting your company?
Don't be afraid to dream big and to invest in growing your company!
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