This month, we’re introducing you to one of our favorite new friends, Kalyn Johnson Chandler of Effie’s Paper::Stationery&Whatnot, an energetic lifestyle authority who is setting the trend on lifestyle accessories, travel style, and the power of Black Girl Magic
Kalyn and I met at a recent Black Southern Belle conference in Charleston. Her enthusiasm for female entrepreneurs , her smile and love of stationery and pretty things made us fast friends. With her signature pops of pink and encouraging words, she is a chic and engaging tastemaker, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Three words that describe your style?
Downtown, chic, hip
As a fashionable city woman, what’s the source(s) of your inspiration?
Believe it or not, walking down the streets of Manhattan and riding the subway are a font of inspiration. New York city has some of the most fashionable people I’ve ever seen. I take my cues from the people around me. What I love about New York is that each neighborhood has it’s own style – for example, on the Upper East Side, people are generally classic dressers with clean lines and solid colors. While downtown, in Tribeca, the vibe is decidedly expensive hipster.
Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
Agatha Christie – I’d love to spend the evening with AC, as I affectionately call her, to get a sense of how her mind works because I love a good murder mystery. In fact, growing up and to this day, my parents, sister and I read murder mysteries voraciously. Lately, I’ve become addicted to all of the British murder mystery shows on Netflix and Acorn – Vera, Midsummer Murders, Broadchurch, Unforgotten and the like. What I love about the British shows is all of the twists and turns, they’re quite cerebral. Who knows, at a dinner party with AC, there might be a murder in the drawing room that needs to be solved!
Maya Angelou – I’ve been an avid reader since I was a kid. One of my fondest memories is spending the weekend at my grandparent’s house and finding a copy of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, I was probably 11 or 12. I read it cover-to-cover that weekend and she instantly became one of my sheros. Maya Angelou had an amazing life, was a generous soul, a prolific writer and an extremely wise woman. I think she’d be the dinner guest everyone would be clamoring to sit next to just hoping to gather a few nuggets of her vast knowledge.
Michelle Obama – I just kind of love everything about her! She brought a level of class, graciousness and openness to the White House that I haven’t experienced before in my lifetime. Her infectious smile and her ability to make fun of herself with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show will forever endear her to me and many. I would love to sit down and chat with her about what it was like to become a part of the upper echelons of society while not losing who she is at her core. She’s a woman I admire greatly; she stepped into a role she was very hesitant to take on … it took her a minute to figure out how to make it her own, but that she did and then some!
A pieces of/type of accessory you couldn’t live without
I never leave home without a silk scarf or a bandana. For some reason my neck tends to get cold, so I learned a long time ago that rather than be uncomfortable, it was just easier to always have a little something to put on my neck. And I’m super excited because I just designed the some really chic bandanas that we’re selling now. In addition to keeping your neck warm, they add the perfect pop of color to your outfit, look great tied around purses and do double-duty as a hat on bad hair days!
Do you recommend people follow a particular set of rules when writing letters?
My only rule when it comes to letter writing is sit down and write! I find that people love to receive handwritten notes in the mail, but rarely take the time to write them. I’ve heard all sorts of excuses from I can’t find nice stationery to I never seem to have stamps. These two “problem” are easily solvable – you can buy both stationery and stamps online nowadays. Of course I think everyone should be using Effie’s Paper to write their notes on, but whatever you have – please use it! A simple note with just three sentences can make someone’s day. And, the satisfaction derived from taking a minute to express one’s gratitude to another is priceless.
What would be the one thing you would have to have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
My Kindle and some kind of super duper charged battery pack. I love to read. So, being stranded on an island with nothing to read would be a kind of purgatory for me. I’m often reading more than one book at a time, which is why I’m partial to my Kindle, although there’s nothing like holding an actual book in your hands.
Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to an aspiring stationery creator.
Go for it! I get asked this question a lot and as I result, I wrote an e-book to help folks who are thinking of starting their own product-based business. There are a lot of players in the marketplace, so do your research and figure out what will distinguish your products from those that are already out there. Identifying your target audience up front – know who she is, what she buys and why up – will save you a lot of time and energy. Then before you jump in, learn what you can about the industry to make certain it’s a good fit for you. Next, think about your strengths and weaknesses to determine which gaps you’ll need to fill. I have a great team of young women I work with, I LOVE my girls; your tribe is your vibe! And finally, assess the direction the industry is headed in to determine where your products will fit in best and come up with a strategy to court those customers and retailers.
Bonus: Here’s a quick round up of some of our favorite ‘whatnot’ from Effie’s Paper, just in time for summer hostess gifts and even Father’s Day gifts!
Now get going and don’t forget to write to someone. You’ll make their day. Thank you to Kalyn of Effie’s Papers for being part of our Tastemaker Tuesday series! We can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for you and Effie’s Papers.