Paperworks Studio offers handcrafted cards with a huge heart, and a quartet of their handsome, artisan-quality Valentine’s Day Cards is now available at ShopMyNorth.com.
If you get the chance to hold a card made by Paperworks Studio—to really feel its texture and weight in your hand—you’ll know that you’re holding a paper product of incomparable quality. What you may not know is that the cards are handmade one-at-a-time at Paperworks’ Traverse City production facility: raw materials such as denim and wool are pulverized and repurposed into artisanal paper, which is then hand-fashioned into cards featuring complex print and cut-out designs.
For most small companies offering handcrafted goods, this is where the story ends: an exceptional product made from superior materials by skilled labor. But with Paperworks Studios, we’ve only scratched the surface, which is why Paperworks’ sales director Brian Lewis is proud to say this: “Nobody else makes a card like we do—and each card purchased truly helps change lives.”
Let’s rewind 20 years to the birth of Paperworks Studio: a Traverse City special education teacher named Tim Coffey sought a way to engage his students in a tactile, interactive way; he decided that making paper might do the trick. So with a handful of kitchen blenders and some flower petals and paper scraps to be pulped and dried into paper, Coffey and a throng of excited special needs students began experimenting with papermaking.
Fast forward 20 years. By early March of 2014, the non-profit Paperworks Studio will operate through a partnership between Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan and Grand Traverse Industries. Growth for the company has been dramatic: “Sales have grown in Traverse City, and we have started capturing national customers. We have a very successful growing retail program throughout Michigan that is expanding nationally,” says Lewis.
While Paperworks Studio has since ditched the blenders, they’ve continued to provide employment for disabled and disadvantaged residents of Northern Michigan; more than 25 individuals with disabilities or disadantages now man the artist tables, presses, and drying rooms at Paperworks. Additionally, students from Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District’s special education program learn skills at the studio.
In keeping with its history of resourcefulness, Paperworks Studio still obtains its raw, recyclable materials from local sources: the denim is provided by Goodwill’s retail outlets, while their coffee comes from Traverse City’s Higher Grounds Trading Company. A line of cards to be featured this fall will be made with garlic mustard provided by the Grand Traverse Conservation District, which was previously paying to dump what garlic mustard it gathered. Paperworks’ partnership with Traverse City’s M-22 has provided cards with M-22’s iconic designs, while other designs pay homage to the Sleeping Bear Dunes shoreline. Custom paper products—from wedding invitations and stationary to corporate letterhead—can be ordered, too. And a Paperworks’ Valentine’s Day card is the easiest way to express your love with both those closest to you and the entire Northern Michigan community.
“To know Paperworks is to love Paperworks,” says Miller. Paperworks’ products speak for themselves: beautiful cards—made with love—that change lives.
Paperworks Studio is based in Traverse City, and is a featured retailer at ShopMyNorth.com
ShopMyNorth is an online marketplace that supports and promotes Northern Michigan businesses and craftsmen. If you’re a merchant interested in placing your company’s products on ShopMyNorth, please contact Drew Warner (231)-941-3102.