May 21-24, 2017 Javits Center, NYC
Stationery, Distinctive gifts & creative pursuits

Stationery Stories - What is Yours?


“A big factor in our success has been learning to avoid ‘paralysis by analysis’. We could spend forever looking at what others are doing, wondering why someone didn’t buy our products, or questioning our designs, but as long as we let our personality shine through in our products, we’re succeeding by our standards.”


Joe and Coleen Akers, NSS exhibitor and owners of PaperFreckles

After 12 years of sweat and burnt fingers working in professional kitchens as a chef, I (Joe) was feeling burned out (pun intended) with cooking and was looking for a career change. I’ve always loved drawing and making things, so I took graphic design courses at night and on the weekends while still working full time in kitchens. From there, I worked freelance creating logos and branding materials for small businesses. During that time, Coleen started making handmade cards since she has had a long-term love affair with stationery, stickers and greeting cards. That’s when PaperFreckles was born and became our full-time business.

Our snarky, sometimes inappropriate and irreverent humor, coupled with hand-drawn illustrations and lettering make our cards distinctively PaperFreckles. There are really talented people creating foil-embossed, whimsical and elegant cards, so we leave it to them to keep doing an amazing job at it. Our point of view and style is a bit different, but we like it that way.

Like a lot of people in this industry, we feel it’s important to encourage personal interaction via handwritten notes (more cards, less texts!), and that we use our sense of humor to contribute something positive to the world. We always strive to create products that inject more love and levity into the world to supplant all the doom and gloom that people are faced with daily. We really value being able to bring a smile to people’s faces and lighten their mood, if even for a brief moment.

A big factor in our success has been learning to avoid “paralysis by analysis”. We could spend forever looking at what others are doing, wondering why someone didn’t buy our products, or questioning our designs, but as long as we let our personality shine through in our products, we’re succeeding by our standards. We always aim to stay confident in ourselves and our talents. I’d advise this to anyone starting out. I would also tell those starting out that it’s important to try and build great relationships with buyers and other designers. A rising tide lifts all boats, and what’s good for the industry is good for all of us.

We’re super excited to be back at NSS for the first time in three years (Booth #1565!), and for the first time since winning a 2015 LOUIE Award for our “Last Coconut” card. It’ll be fun to see what everyone else has been up to and chat with new folks!

Want more Stationery Stories? Read them here.