I fell in love with Effie’s Paper the moment I opened the package that Fab Feminist contributing writer (and ultimate gift-giver), Lily, sent me. Everything I’ve ever gotten from Lily has been uniquely feminist, so I knew it was even better than what I was seeing at face value. In neat plastic casing was a set of stationary with marbled backs and black envelopes that read “from the desk of a badass bitch” on the front. Let me tell you, I love this stationary so much that I evacuated to my parents’ house with it in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Effie’s Paper is a stationery and desk accessory company run by the immensely fabulous Kalyn Johnson, who started out her professional career in law, switched to personal styling, and transitioned to self-taught, lifestyle-stationery-designing guru. She named the company after her grandmother, Effie, who worked for a greeting card company and “believed a lady should have the perfect shade of red lipstick, write a wicked thank you note and always carry a hanky in her pocketbook.” This sage wisdom, IMHO, is just as iconic as Liz Taylor’s “pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together” quote.
I reached out to Kalyn’s team for some more information. How did she transition from day-job grind to a creative, self-employed lifestyle business owner? Luckily, her executive assistant, Aubrie, hooked me up with the deets. “From what I know anecdotally, although she had always been the person her friends went to for fashion advice, she didn’t start the styling business until after she had left law, so she took a leap of faith.” She then passed me a clipping written by Kalyn herself: “I practiced law at a big law firm for a little over ten years before making my segue to the entrepreneurial world with STYLE by Kalyn. Before I started Effie’s paper, I was helping busy professionals get dressed. I was having trouble scaling the business (fashion and style blogging was not what it is now…) and it was far more physical than I’d known to realize. I joked with my husband that I wanted to have a widget that would sell itself while I slept. About six months after my wedding, I was sitting at my desk writing thank you notes on stationery, aside from my wedding stationery, that I didn’t love and had my AH-HA moment. I knew that I couldn’t be the only stationery connoisseur craving stationery that had a bit more of an urban modern edge to it.”
Kalyn success story is a warm reminder that Rome wasn’t built in a day. I know, duh, we’ve all heard the proverb, but I feel like millennials, in general, are apt to assume that a brand and a dream can be built within the very immediate future. We see fashion/travel/lifestyle Instagrammers with perfect lives and millions of followers and we wonder how the hell they got from where we are to there. Kalyn knew a career took time to build. She worked for ten years in law, spent another five at STYLE by Kalyn, and then started Effie’s Paper in 2011. The woman has been committed to her cause and put in her time.
She also made the very reasonable point that having an item that could sell itself was crucial to her success. We love this blog with a fiery passion and will continue to write, bleed, and sweat for it, but wouldn’t it be great if we could also support ourselves off of its success? To run a brand, you have to sell a brand, and as unglamorous as that sounds, it’s true. Effie’s Paper is uniquely successful because it captures Kalyn to a T: what excites her, how she wants to live her life, and what she strives to surround herself with. You can look at a picture of Kalyn and know her, and her stationery is like a kaleidoscope of color, empowerment, and black girl magic. It’s downright fab feminist. Her accessories feature quirky -isms, like “There’s a good chance this is WHISKEY,” which is printed on a coffee mug, “Black Girl Magic” available in gold lettering on literally everything, and “I’M NOT BOSSY, I’M THE BOSS” embossed pencils. They’re all propped up on fabulous background items like You Can't Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson, Girl Boss, by Sophia Amoruso, and her own cult classic, The BAP Handbook. To support Kalyn and #treatyourself at the same time, check out her website, effiespaper.com. 10% off your first order when you subscribe. Know any fabulously feminist companies or artists? Send ‘em our way at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured on our blog.