What’s a party without guests?! It certainly isn’t a good time, that’s for sure!
Kerry Millhiser is THE person who is going to make sure that your guests know about your party and that they find out about it in style. Kerry owns Kerry’s Papery, a high-end invitation and stationery company operating out o Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Invitations are the first impression that your guests will receive of your wedding, party or event, and that’s no small thing!
Kerry has built a business that makes sure that first impression is breathtaking. Offering highly customizable, top quality invitations and day-of items, Kerry’s Papery guarantees that your event starts off on the right foot!
When did you open up shop?
KM:I opened Kerry’s papery in May of 2011.
What led you to open up a papery company?
KM:I truly love all things that have to do with paper invitations and stationery. There is something very natural and beautiful about it that is rich in tradition. I know email and computers make it easy to send messages, but something is lost with them that isn’t lost with paper. It’s more personal.
What were you doing, professionally before opening up Kerry’s Papery?
KM:My mother and I owned three retail gift stores. However, we had stationery and invitation departments in each store. That probably doesn’t come as a huge surprise!
Take us through the 5 major steps you took to start this company?
KM:To open the papery in Florida required that I visited to learn the area. I visited Florida several times over a course of a few months. I met with a local community redevelopment company for advice and to gauge the area and their needs. Of course, I did market research. I finally settled on a location in Hollywood, FL that would allow me to have a traditional store front in a community that I felt was in need of a papery. It took a great deal of time to finally choose the location, but it worked out.
Finally, I started to market my business through many channels, including bridal shows and meeting with event industry professionals and venues.
How much money did you initially invest to start your company?
KM:My original investment was $50,000.00.
How long did it take for you to see your ROI?
KM:At the moment, I am still working on it. I have only been in business for a year. Unfortunately, in the middle of the year the building that housed the papery suffered a fire. The main fire was next door, but the smoke and water damage was significant. I’m still recovering from some of the losses, but have been able to relocate and set up a new shop.
Initially, how did you get the word out about your company?
Initially, I went to a great deal of bridal shows and tried to meet with as many local vendors in the event industry as possible. There are also many fantastic networking opportunities in South Florida where I met great people.
How do you get the word out now?
KM:I still go to networking events and I belong to several event industry groups that increase exposure and marketing opportunities. I also meet with venues and other vendors to build one-on-one relationships on a regular basis.
What separates you from your competition?
KM:Not all invitation providers or stationery companies are equal. Like any other business, there are different levels of ability and service. I have based my company on being able to provide the best services and products and allow my clients to truly explore their needs. I know that I will be able to deliver on whatever they may want. Kerry’s Papery can customize any and all invitations in ways that other companies just can’t.
Has anyone helped you along the way that you admire? If so, who and why?
KM:Yes, my family. Without them I wouldn’t be here, both financially and emotionally. They have engrained in me the importance of hard work.
What’s the price range like for you invitations?
KM:$5.00-$300.00 per piece.
How much advanced notice do you need to create your masterpieces?
KM:Masterpieces? That’s a great question. I would say at least twelve weeks! It takes time to get everything perfect! Our pre-done designs don’t take as long. Typically 4-8 weeks for those.
What do you love the most about having your own company?
KM:I know everyone probably says this, but it gives me an opportunity to truly do what I love. I work hard and know that I’m building something important for not only myself, but my clients as well.
What are the top 3 things you have learned along the way (personally, or professionally) since opening up Kerry’s Papery?
KM:I’ve learned an awful lot! First of all, fires stink!
But more seriously:
- Things don’t happen overnight and without hard work.
- If you don’t accept who you are it’s going to be a long, hard road.
- Don’t ever close a door; you never know who you might need to lean on who is standing on the other side of it.
What can you tell us about how you deal with any negativity that may come your way as a business owner? How do you deal with it?
KM:Not everything is positive. That’s a part of life and part of being in business. You have to remember things aren’t personal: it’s just business. And of course, if you can’t let something go at the end of the day, a piece of cake will solve anything!
How would someone close to you describe your personality.
KM:These are always tough questions to answer. Mind if I cheat and actually ask someone close to me?! I would describe myself as hardworking, dedicated, and a little bit goofy.
Where do you see your company in 5 years?
KM:I want Kerry’s Papery to be “the” company for invitations with in South Florida without question or argument!
Any new developments?
KM:Yes. Something that I have never seen before is that we just found a great new vendor to print on steel! I know that’s not paper, but the spirit of it is there!
Best advice for women entrepreneurs.
KM:Absolutely never give up or take no for an answer! If you knock on enough doors, one day one will open.