If you’re a member of FF Society, you’ve probably seen our exclusive promo for Effie’s Paper makeup bags. We’re kind of obsessed with them… and also their creator, Kalyn Johnson Chandler. She stopped by Finding Ferdinand HQ to discuss entrepreneurship, inspiration, and the power of “pretty.”
Finding Ferdinand: We’re definitely crushing on your entire wardrobe. How would you describe your look in one sentence?
Kalyn Johnson Chandler: My personal style is equal parts Diana Ross and Carrie Bradshaw in Tribeca. I love texture, heels, and big hair!
Is your vanity area equally as fabulous? Tell us about your beauty routine.
To be honest, my vanity is never as neat as I would like it to be, but I can always find the essentials. I inherited dark circles from my grandmother (I’ve had them since I was born), so my daily routine consists of moisturizer (I’m partial to LaMer) and Kevin Aucoin’s Sensual Enhancer concealer and Sensual Skin Primer. I also apply a bit of foundation - typically MAC’s Studio Tech pressed powder. For the eyes I use mascara, fill in my brows with eyeshadow, and fill my lids with a neutral shadow that’s just about the same color as my skin. It takes a lot of work to look natural… Who knew, right?!
We read that you began your career as a lawyer. What prompted you to start Effie’s Paper?
It wasn’t until I was planning my wedding that the idea of starting a stationery company began to germinate. I was living in New York and had hired a London-based graphic designer to create a bespoke wedding stationery suite. The designer’s printers were in India and as preparations were underway, they ran up against Monsoon season which meant that I had to find a printer in New York! The more I learned about the manufacturing end of things, the more I wanted to have my own stationery company.
About 6 months after my wedding, I was sitting at my desk writing thank you notes on stationery that I didn’t love and I had my AH-HA moment. I knew that I couldn’t be the only stationery connoisseur craving something with more of an urban, modern edge to it. The name just came to me. I created original the logo in a word document, and the rest is history.
Effie’s Paper was named after your grandmother, right? Tell us about starting a company with her namesake.
My grandmother, Mrs. Effie Hayes, was a stylish lady who was a stickler for pocketbooks filled with hankies and red lipstick, proper undergarments and a well-written thank you note.
Believe it or not, she worked for a greeting card company when I was a kid! There were always boxes of note cards around and she always had the perfect card for every occasion. She even gave my sister and I our own notecards to use as scrap paper to perfect our penmanship. She is definitely the inspiration behind Effie’s Paper, and of course my personal style as well.
We love that your grandmother had an affinity for red lipstick! What else did you learn from her about beauty and putting your best self forward?
The best lesson I learned from both my grandmother, and my mom, is that beauty comes from within. From a young age, they told me that it doesn’t matter how “pretty” someone is on the outside. If you’re not pretty on the inside - kind, gracious, thoughtful - that outside beauty is just a mirage that will fade as people get to know the real you. “Pretty is as pretty does” was and is a mantra in our family.
"Pretty is as pretty does."
Best. Mantra. Ever. Speaking of pretty, why do you think it’s important for women today to surround themselves with pretty things that make her heart leap?
My philosophy is that you might as well enjoy yourself in the moment! Buy the latte, make your surroundings pretty - tomorrow isn’t promised.
It’s hard for me to work in a space that doesn’t make me happy or feel good. I’m definitely one of those people who needs to like what I have on every day... There’s just something about feeling good in one’s clothes and space that makes me want to bring my A game. Simply put, pretty things and bright colors make me happy. When I realized this about myself, I knew that others must feel the same way and hence all of the pretty desk accessories I now make and sell.
So that’s why you decided to expand from “stationery” to “Stationery&Whatnot!” Could you tell us more about how you decided to grow Effie’s Paper?
As with any business, sustainability is about being able to scale. I wish that people would put down their smartphones more often and take the time to send handwritten notes... but I began to realize this hope was becoming a pipe dream. So, a few years ago I started to think about the pretty things that I love and buy impulsively – just about any desk accessory that’s glammy and makes me smile. Et volià, I had my whatnots!
Of course, Effie’s Paper still sells stationery, but the company’s current focus is on pretty desk accessories – cheeky coffee mugs and journals, chic post-it notes and notepads, cool keychains, fun nameplates, and stylish makeup bags. They’re all products I use and love and love making. If your heart leaps when you see our products then I know I’ve done my job well.
We would officially like to deck our office out in Effie’s Paper. Where can we find you?
Today Effie’s Paper :: Stationery&Whatnot is sold online at effiespaper.com, on Etsy and on Walmart.com. In addition, Effie’s Paper products are sold wholesale and can be found at JFK and LaGuardia Airports and in boutiques throughout the country.