Sidonie Warren

Sidonie Warren is one half of the design-obsessed duo behind Papersmiths, the Bristol-based one-stop shop for gorgeous stationery and paper goods. Sidonie’s dedication to design-led stationery and use of top quality materials will instantly make you want to ditch that chewed-up old biro and dog-eared notepad. But the path of true creativity never runs smoothly, as Sidonie explains. 

Tell us a bit about your background – what led you to starting your own business?

I graduated from Brighton University with a degree in Education. It wasn’t for me and I started exploring illustration, jewellery design and selling vintage clothes. Through my illustration and mural painting, I set up design studio Something Good in Bridport, Dorset with my co-director Kyle Clarke. We design identities and physical spaces. When relocating the studio to Bristol, we randomly found ourselves with a shop front and decided to open a shop too. I’ve made it sound very simple here. We’re four and a half years into our journey and there has been plenty of hard graft. We’ve come across our fair share of challenges but I’ve created my dream job.

Where does your business name come from?

Papersmiths reflects the craft and skill that the designers we stock put into their products. Many of them utilise traditional techniques such as letterpress, silkscreen and edge painting, or they’ll draw on these when designing their stationery.

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Which entrepreneur or business has given you inspiration?

I read autobiographies a lot but not necessarily business autobiographies. Dale Carnegie, Heather Falconer, Lena Dunham, Tony Hsieh and Michael Gerber have all inspired me recently in one way or another.

Running a business is tough – what do you do when you aren’t working, and how do you manage the life/work balance? 

I’m good at the life/work balance. I know work will be there tomorrow and if I really need to, I can stay late or do some work at home. I’ve spent the past year making up for all the holidays I didn’t take in the first four years so I’m raring to go for winter!

I go home before 7pm everyday. When I’m not working I practice yoga, cook, read or lie in front of a Jennifer Aniston movie in my pyjamas.

How big is your team? 

There are ten of us.

What’s your plans for the future growth of your business? 

I’m planning to open a second store in early 2016.

Each business is a brand  – what are the blocks to building a strong business in your opinion? 

You need an idea and then you need to work very hard on your business, not just in it.

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What’s your point of difference regarding what you do? 

We are the go-to place for contemporary stationery.

What inspires your creativity? 

I’m inspired by restaurants and stores (fashion stores mainly) for our interior. Instagram provides daily inspiration. I see a lot when I’m travelling.

What’s been your most successful form of marketing and promotion for your business?

Instagram and word of mouth.

What’s the best thing about running your business? 

Having a very well stocked pencil case.

What’s on your work playlist? 

Yon Yonson, Pink Floyd, Black Keys, Tame Impala, Aurora, Kiko Bun

What advice would you give to any budding entrepreneurs?

Don’t quit your day job until you’re certain your business can support you. Getting a grip on your finances is essential.

  • As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, we’re talking to entrepreneurs who made the impossible possible and now run some of the world’s most unique enterprises. Read other profiles in the series here.