Friday, October 7, 2011

A Chat With: Minhee Cho of Paper + Cup

If you're ever at a loss for really simple but classy paper crafts to make for friends, home and party décor, or to keep the kids entertained, then you should keep a copy of "Paper + Craft" on your shelf. The craft book comes from stationery design team Truman and Minhee Cho of Paper + Cup and is full of cool ideas that you can easily tweak for a customized touch. Minhee recently took some time to talk about how she juggles growing her business, writing a book, and the family all the while satisfying her sweet tooth.

Hi, Minhee! It's so nice to have you for a chat. You and your husband, Truman, have been managing Paper + Cup for eight years now. Why did you decide to venture into the publishing business and what do you hope both long-time followers and new ones learn about your design company through "Paper + Craft"? 

We didn’t seek out to do a book but when Chronicle Books asked us to, we were super excited. While writing the book, we realized that anyone can craft and have fun doing it. We’re not super skilled but just love making things. We wanted to share with others that the process and having fun is the most important part, not getting a picture perfect piece finished.

There were quite a few things I really want to get working on, but the giant tissue paper flower is by far my fave and would look so pretty in my apartment. Are the projects in the book things you've made in the past or were most of them generated for the book?

They were a mix, some were inspired from things we made in the past for other projects or personal use or things that were inspired by past experiences. For example, the mustache drink toppers were inspired from a family holiday where we had actual fake mustaches that we wore while opening gifts.

Oh, I liked that one, too! I'll have to host another dinner party to give those away as favors. How did you manage to run Paper + Cup, write "Paper + Craft," and have a baby?

Oh my it was a crazy year! I was pregnant the entire time we were writing the book and did the photoshoot when I was nine months in. We have some help with running the day-to-day orders for P+C so that was okay, but there were many late nights and work weekends.

Now tell me a bit more about Paper + Cup. What made you decide to create a stationery/ design business? And why this name in particular?

I love old papers, letters, labels, and books. The fact that you can hold it in your hands and experience it is what makes it so special. Getting a letter in the mail versus reading the same letter in an email can give the same person a completely different experience. To be a part of that experience for someone is so special. We may never meet the person that gets our birthday card, but it makes us happy to think their day was made a little brighter.

Tru actually pushed me into starting P+C. I was at a magazine company for a while and just really did not want to be there anymore. It sounds cliché, but I've always made my own cards ever since I was little. Mainly because as a kid I never had money for a gift so my card became the gift. Then it just kept with me. We always wanted to work together and make things, not necessarily just cards. A stationery business seemed like something I could handle and we planned on growing from there.

The name is a marriage of our two loves, paper and coffee-tea-wine... It’s not an exciting story, but I loved the sound of paper cup. It seemed so simple and easy to remember. Our big dream is to have a paper store and café to go with our name.

You describe your company's design as something new with a touch of vintage. How have you kept things interesting and fresh over the last eight years? 

Sometimes it's a big challenge to keep on coming up with new ideas. Over the years I've learned that you can’t force it. If I’m not inspired with a project, I’ll stop for a bit and move on. Or do something completely different like clean the kitchen. It’s always when I’m not sitting in front of the computer that ideas come. We try to venture off and explore new neighborhoods and try new places to eat on the weekends. It’s those times that we are most productive in coming up with new designs and projects.

So what's in the works for Paper + Cup's future? 

We are venturing off to Paris to set up shop doing custom wedding projects. We’ve launched a new blog in English and French and our Paris website is coming soon so we’re super excited! We’re also starting to think about making our dream come true for a small P+C shop.

Oh Paris is incredible! I wish I were there now, but living in New York City is pretty fantastic, too. So as a fellow New Yorker, could you please share a few of your favorite spots that guests simply must experience for themselves? 

Oh, there are so many! I go to Peels for the 3 in 1 cream pie, Bisous, Ciao for macarons, Il Laboratorio del Gelato, Popbar, and Amy’s Bread in the Chelsea Market for the best vanilla cake. It’s all desserts!

Images:, book page image courtesy of Minhee Cho,,, and


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