Meet Elisabeth Tran, the artist behind the creative small business Champaign Paper. Yes, champaign as in an expanse of open country side. It is a very fitting name for a company whose whimsical greeting cards are inspired by nature. Read about what and who inspired her to quit her day job and start her business.
Tell us about your background.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been compelled to create art. There was never a notebook or a piece of paper that didn't have my drawings and doodles all over it. I had always dreamed of staying at home and creating masterpieces and one day owning my own gallery or art studio.
Champaign Paper is comprised of myself and my fiance, Shaun. Shaun has always had a passion for owning his own business and I absolutely love creating art! Together, we quit our day jobs and dedicate our lives to creating greeting cards and prints.
We have also been blessed with three wonderful children...needless to say, there's never a dull moment! We love being able to spend time with our children while simultaneously devoting our attention towards a career we both are passionate about.
What made you take the leap and start your business?
We both are very creative and artistically inclined. When it came to our careers, we didn't feel that we really fit the mold of working 9-5 at a desk job for the rest of our lives.
Having our daughter, Aurora, would be one of the biggest reasons why we took a leap and started our own business. We decided it would be best for me to stay at home with our children and for Shaun to continue to work at the company we had met at. When our business took off, it made it more and more difficult for me to continue with our business without Shaun's help, so he decided to quit his job, as well, and put 100% into our business. Now, we are more successful than we have ever been and certainly more fulfilled than when we worked at our old jobs.
Why is making and shopping handmade so important?
We have a piece of artwork that we have hung over our little business area that says: "Happiness Is Homemade." Every time I look at that I feel so grateful to be able to stay at home with my children and also create wonderful artwork. I like to be able to have a vision of what I want a greeting card to say or a print to look like and put that idea into action. I don't have any obstacles or anyone telling me what I can or cannot do. What I enjoy most is putting all my time and energy into something I am proud of and that people appreciate and respect.
When you shop handmade, you are not only sure of where the items come from, but you are closer to that process and can appreciate the love and hard work that is put into it.
Tell us about your creative process.
The creative process begins with artwork created by me. Shaun takes the artwork and scans and formats it into our computer. We print the designs, then cut and score everything ourselves. All the items are then packaged and shipped to our customers.
What is your studio space like?
Our studio space is our basement. We have tables and shelves set up to create a business-like atmosphere. We also have a little living area for our children to play while we are working.
Who are your favorite makers and artists?
I would say we really admire a few big makers and artists who share the same line of work that we do. A few of them include OneCanoeTwo, Emily McDowell, and Wit & Whistle. My favorite artist right now is Becca Stadtlander...I'm in love with her work!
Thank you Elisabeth for sharing your story and your photos!