To some it’s junk, to me its art | Sunday Observer

To some it’s junk, to me its art

Paper Frills is all about bringing loads of happiness and creating fond memories through paper crafts

Who says you can’t turn what you love into a paycheck? Your passion can be the career of your dreams and bring in a paycheck to fill your pocket and heart.

Do you know that even the creation of the literar masterpieces, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings was a hobby of J.R.R. Tolkien? Yes, the writer’s hobby was creating new worlds of language and fantasy!

Charmalee, the creative and enterprising young owner of ‘Paperfrills’, where paper is created into exquisite works of art shared her experiences with the Youth Observer.

Q: Could you tell our readers something about yourself?

I am Charmalee Kulatunga. I went to Musaeus College. With a BSc in Finance from the University of Sri Jayewardenepura I’m a qualified management accountant (CIMA). I started my career in an investment bank. Later on, I worked as a manager in an academic institution and did part time lecturing in business and management. Lecturing is something I still love to do from time to time.

Q: What made you take up paper craft? Has it always been a passion with you?

I am the self-taught paper crafter of Paper Frills. My grandfather, Dharmadasa Kulatunga had a printing shop so I always had paper around me. I started paper crafting when I was a kid playing at the press. I haven’t studied designing or art so starting Paper Frills was a mighty step of faith.

Paper Frills is all about bringing loads of happiness and creating fond memories through paper crafts. Exploding paper boxes (is a gift item filled with pictures)miniature suitcases and scrapbooks filled with photos depicting your story are just a few of my favourite paper crafts. I always change the portfolio to keep it fresh and unique.

Q: Describe a typical day in your life?

I wake up around 5am and start my day with a coffee. Then I log onto Instagram to check my inbox and to respond to my customers’ queries and messages. Next, I plan my orders for the day along with my two assistants and we start crafting! Usually, crafting goes on till about 7pm. Then I go back to Instagram right before I stop work for the day.

Q: What inspired and motivated you to keep doing what you're doing?

I love paper crafting and being able to turn it in to a career is something I never dreamt of. I am extremely passionate about what I make and that keeps me motivated.

Q: Tell us about your first entrepreneurial venture. How did you come up with the idea and how did you start your business?

When I was at the university, I used to make cards for fun for friends and family but it came to a point where I had piled them up. Then, my father took them to his office and sold about 20 of them within a day. That’s how the business side of Paper Frills began. Then I started a Facebook page and started selling them through social media. I’m blessed with clients who have been buying from me for the past eight years and they want something new each time and this encourages me to be innovatve and create new items.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as an entrepreneur?

The biggest challenge would be managing time between my work and personal life. The work that I do is time consuming and I get carried away with the concepts once I start working on something that I love. Paper Frills is based at my parents’ house and it has pretty much come to a point where there is absolutely no end to my crafting. Despite the popular belief that working in your own business gives you free time I think it's the absolute opposite. I usually work 24/7 so there are no weekends or holidays.

Q: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you?

I believe an entrepreneur is someone who adds value to the world by bringing in a positive output. As Paper Frills grew I was able to create a new market for paper based handmade gifts which were unique and memorable to the person who received it.

Q: What tips would you give to a woman who would like to start her own business?

Be willing to take risks: I am from a investment banking background but I took that step of faith when I started Paper Frills. It is not an easy journey and there will be many things which you have to sacrifice along the way the risk and the reward go hand-in-hand.

* Find your niche: Don’t always just follow what everyone else is doing or making. Sadly, I see this with a lot of paper crafters. Try to add something new to the design that you are doing and you will get a head start in creating something new.

· Start small: Start with a small batch and give them free if you have to. Ask for honest feedback before you delve deep in to the idea.

· Study management and business: Don’t focus just on your product and design, learning about the basics of running a business will always come in handy!

Q: How do you know when a piece of work is finished and needs no additional work?

I guess you have to go with your instinct on that one. If I am uncertain I try to take a break from the project and take a look at it a little later to get a new perspective.

Q: Any negative feedback and if any, how has it affected your work?

I haven’t received any negative feedback on a product.

Q: How do you develop and increase you creativity?

My inspiration comes from new colour palattes and the person that I am making the item for. I love working with new colour pallattes and I always look into different design spheres such as interior decoration, fashion and make up lines than just simply focusing on paper craft-based concepts. Every day things that inspire me helps come up with different ideas. Also talking to my loyal clients has always helped me develop and increase my creativity. The ones that I’ve been working with for the past six years have given me freedom to create something new for them.

Q: What is your best accomplishment?

Being able to turn my childhood hobby into a business with over 20,000 followers on multiple social media platforms is my best accomplishment yet. I now have two talented full time assistants, Nishani Kahavita and Pushpa Godamune. I have trained them for over a year to help me create these items.

Q: How does family support your venture?

My parents, my husband, brother sister-in-law and friends have been of immense support to Paper Frills. From helping me to the source material, staying with me at my Pop Up stores to dropping off last minute deliveries when I run out of time, they have always been there for me.

Q: How do you decide what market to target?

The target market for Paper Frills has always been individuals who want to gift something absolutely memorable and something that will be cherished for a very long time. All my products include personal details such as photos, love notes, things they love and enjoy.

Q: Tell me about your platforms to advertise and market Paper Frills products?

I operate Paper Frills purely through social media such as Facebook, especially on instagram. All my products are available and you can place orders via those platforms. You can use the hashtag #giftpaperfrills to see what I make. I am currently working on a website.

Q: Your adivce to our readers?

Be patient with your dream. It’s not going to become a reality overnight. It took me about eight years to be where I am now. I started part time while I was studying and every minute that I’ve spent creating something new has helped Paper Frills become what it is now. You have to be patient and you have to keep at it and eventually you will get there.