Taymoor Atighetchi founded stationery company Papier in London in 2015. The brand, which prints personalised paper products including cards and invitations on demand, recently launched a dedicated Australian printing facility to serve its growing customer base here, filling the gap between high street stationery and high-end players.
We spoke to Atighetchi about growing his company, personalisation in retail, and why Australia is such a lucrative market for his business.
What led you to start Papier in 2015?
I’ve always loved art and design and was keen to build a brand which combined a strong art and design aesthetic with business and technology. Entrepreneurship has always been a part of my character; at 17 I sold antiques on Portobello Market and then at university set up online student media platform, The Tab with two school friends.
So, after a few years in management consultancy I knew I wanted to create my own business and I saw that there was no one doing well-designed personalised stationery in the affordable luxury space.
What is the Papier philosophy?
At Papier, we create high-quality, personalised stationery, on demand. Customers can personalise and send beautifully designed cards directly to recipients as well as design and order custom invitations, notecards and notebooks, as well as a fully personalised children’s book.
By working with leading artists, illustrators, designers and brands including Mother of Pearl, Matthew Williamson and The Victoria and Albert Museum we can offer an ever-evolving but highly curated collection of products to our customers.
Why did you open an Australian printing facility?
Australia is an amazing market that’s hugely overlooked by businesses around the world. It felt like a natural next step for Papier and a chance to connect with existing customers we already had there and connect with new followers.
The Australian market is often underserved by European brands but we’ve always had it in our sights, especially as there’s a strong appreciation for beautiful stationery and great design there.
Have you noticed any differences between the Australian and UK markets?
Yes—our personalised kids’ book has been incredibly popular in Australia and we’ve had great success in using Facebook and Instagram advertising to promote it there. Customers are also pleasantly surprised when they find out we print in Australia and delivery times are so much shorter than they’d usually expect for an online order (from a European brand).
Why do you think consumers are still attracted to stationery in today’s digital world?
I think that for our customers, a to-do list needs to be on paper to get it done; a thank you note or card should be sent by post; and stationery can be a creative outlet in a digital world. More and more people are sketching, writing and doodling as a way of detoxing from the screens we are surrounded by.
As more ‘everyday’ communication becomes digital and electronic, thoughtful and important communication is becoming elevated through high quality, beautiful stationery.
Do you think demand is growing for personalised products?
Absolutely—our business has more than quadrupled over the past 12 months. People want items that are personalised to stand apart from the crowd. For us the numbers speak for themselves—since 2015, we’ve delivered over two million Papier products to customers all over the world.
What have been the highlights of running Papier so far?
Working with the most talented artists, designers, photographers and illustrators. Being in a creative industry allows me to work with fascinating and inspiring people.
And the biggest challenges?
Ensuring we keep our strong company values as we grow in size is a massive challenge, but one that is very important to me. Papier’s success is founded on principles of creativity and ambition and I would never want to lose the edge that keeps us agile and nimble.
Most importantly though, it’s important that what we do as a business is set in a broader context and we make sure we have fun and enjoy what we do every day.
What advice do you have for other retailers on running a successful business?
Find the best people to work with you to grow. It’s hard to find enough great people to keep up with the rate at which we’re growing. Papier is a family, and I’m incredibly proud of the work my team do. Every day they go above and beyond to build out our vision.
It’s essential when running a business that no matter how fast you grow, you bring on board the best people with a real passion for the brand and what they do.
What’s next for Papier?
We are currently in conversation with a few exciting Australian artists and designers about collaborations. In the next few months we have our eye on international expansion and we’ll also be launching some exciting new products.
We’re also launching the Papier Atelier to connect people to Papier’s world of creativity and design through a series of curated events, from Q&As to immersive experiences and workshops with artists and artisans.
By Ruth Cooper