When I first met Brenny Giovis, I was her wedding DJ! Crazy right? Running my own business brought me together with a lot of great clients – many of whom I’ve stayed friends with beyond their wedding day.
Brenny Giovis is definitely one of those clients.
When we first met, Brenny was working full-time at a company as a graphic designer. She has since gone on to launch a wildly successful stationery line called Paperfelt. Nordstrom recently came calling and her cards are now sold in-store at their Ottawa location. Brenny has since quit her job and now focuses on Paperfelt full-time. It is so inspiring to read about her hard work, hustle and success.
Meet Brenny Giovis everyone!
How did you decide on a career in graphic design?
I had a crash graphic design course in high school and my teacher was pretty cool. I think I learned how to scan a logo in and clean it up in Photoshop and not much else, but my teacher was so kind and sincere that whatever she said kind of stuck with me.
I honestly didn’t even know what graphic design was until I was a semester into college. My dad was so mad because he wanted me to become a teacher and he kept saying what do you do in graphic design anyway and I couldn’t even answer him.
Tell us about your stationery line, Paperfelt!
Paperfelt… It’s like my daydream. We are a small pretty paper goods company. Right now we have greeting cards and prints, and we’re looking to expand to wrapping paper and other products by end of year. Everything is designed with love in mind. I’m kind of a firm believer in love, whether that’s friendship, romance, familiar… I want the person giving it to feel like they’re giving something sweet and meaningful and I want the person receiving it to feel loved. So pretty much everything is sweet and pretty and a little mushy but I design with my kids and my husband in the back of my mind so maybe that’s why.
Do you work on this full-time?
I was on mat leave this year with my second baby, so I really put all my energy into Paperfelt whenever Felix would let me. I worked during naptime, when Kane (my husband) came home from work and on the weekends. But then I went back to work at my design job full-time in March and I really felt overwhelmed and a bit sad that I was putting something that I loved so much on the backburner so I talked to Kane and I decided to make this my priority!
It’s hard to have your own business and two kids. It feels like you’re being pulled in so many directions, my job, my kids, my awesome supporting husband, Paperfelt, that gigantic hamper full of laundry. I felt like I didn’t sleep but I had to do what I had to do right? I’d be up in bed at 3 AM emailing people back or doing proofs. I’ve set work hours now so we’ll see how it all goes!
Have you always worked for yourself? What made you want to start an etsy shop?
No! I thought I never would. My boss at my design job, she’s awesome, she’s been like a mom to me and I would see her coming in at 4 am and leaving work at 8 pm and just going home to sleep and feed her cat. And I thought, you’re crazy. I swear she’s never been on vacation for the 8 years I’ve been working for her. But I totally get it now. She’s built a business off dedication and hard work so I’m grateful to her for teaching me that.
I’ve always done doodles and kept sketchbooks, it helps me clear my mind and balance me – and then one day I was online and saw an article or interview with Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co and I was obsessed with her stuff. It’s so pretty and dreamy and I thought… I wanna do that. I can make a few cards… not on her level cause we don’t have the same style but something fun and creative.
I told Kane and he told me to go for it but I chickened out and just toyed around with the idea for about a year and then he told me to stop being a chicken and just jump. So I did. I opened up an Etsy shop and I uploaded a few cards and then I deleted the shop like a week later. LOL I redesigned my brand and I re-opened a shop and that was it!
What’s the hardest thing about running Paperfelt that we may not think about?
The behind the scenes – I have a family. And I’m an overly anal person, so when I have things pending on my to do list and my daughter wants to go to the park, my brain is still on work and I need a minute to turn it off and focus on my babe.
It’s hard. I feel like a crap mom sometimes because I can’t go Nana’s house and play tea party because I’m on a deadline. But it’s just me right now and I have to dedicate a certain time to this or it’s not going to work. I’m so so grateful that my husband is understanding and wants this to work. He has more faith in me than I do in myself sometimes.
Your products were just picked up by Nordstrom! How did this collaboration come about?
Yes! It’s been a long long process… So Etsy launched a wholesale program last year I think? But it was only available in the states, or if you made your shop currency USD. Mine was Canadian and I had wholesale accounts already so I didn’t think of switching over.
Then this past winter I got an email from an Etsy wholesale team member and she told me that this big company was interested in carrying my products. She said she’d be in touch if they were interested. I forgot about it and at the end of January I got my first purchase order from Nordstrom! I was so excited to find out it was them! It was pretty surreal, I still kind of don’t believe it happened. But I’m there. It’s only at the Ottawa location for now. Nordstrom teamed up with Etsy to support a few artists so every Nordstrom has different Etsy artists available.
What was the most important non-negotiable thing for you when designing your lifestyle and work life?
My family. As much as I love this -they come first. I have people emailing me crazy deadlines like, “Um – can I have this tomorrow?” And it’s a Friday night and tomorrow is the weekend and my kids aren’t at school so… no. Its family day for me. My husband works long hours so I’d like to also hang out with him. And on the weekends my whole family gets together so I don’t really like to miss out on that. You’ve met my family Lisa -we’re pretty close. I lose jobs sometimes but that’s ok, I won’t ever get back the time I lost with loved ones.
What do you do to de-stress?
I drink hot coffee. Hahaha I’m not even lying. I make a coffee and sit in the quiet for a bit. Or go for a walk to the coffee shop. I feel like I never get to have hot coffee because one of my kids always wants something and by the time I get back to my coffee it’s cold.
What’s your typical day like?
I’m a night owl so mornings for me are the worst. My son likes to wake up at 6:15 AM and I go to bed at like 1:30 AM, so I’m so not in the mood to talk and he wants to play. So we play for a bit before his sister wakes up then we do the breakfast/get ready for school routine and we’re out the door.
After school drop-offs, I go to the gym or come straight home and start work, I have designated days for packing and shipping, custom work and my own designs. I check my emails and write back – that takes a bit of time up and on other days I’m off to the printers doing press approvals or picking up supplies. The days do fly by when you work for yourself.
What did you study in college and is there anything you would have done differently?
I went to school for graphic design. It taught me what I needed to know. Sometimes I think I should have listened to my dad and become a teacher, especially now that I have kids it would be easier but then would I be where I am now? Maybe, and I don’t really like maybes so no – I’m happy with what I chose.
Best piece of life advice to share?
Have courage and be kind.
I say it every day to my daughter everyday when I kiss her goodbye at school. Having heart, jumping into what scares you and being nice will get you pretty far. I want her to remember that always.
To learn more about Brenny Giovis, visit her online store – Paperfelt.
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