INTERVIEW: JESSICA DEANS OF PAPER FOX LA
Jessica Deans (right), pictured with fellow co-founder Lauren Perez. Interviewed by Michele Carroll. Photography: Adam C. Bartlett.
For our readers that are new to your company, tell us what Paper Fox LA is all about.
We make all kinds of paper goods. We specialize in party decorations but we also design art pieces and installations for galleries and storefronts. We host DIY workshops, plan large and small events … there are so many facets to the company, all of which focus around paper goods.
How did you first become interested in creative party decor?
Lauren and I had always been very creative people individually and we enjoyed working with our hands, brainstorming and turning our ideas into something tangible. We also love hosting get togethers and entertaining. Creating party decorations was a great way for us to combine those interests.
What drove you to create your own company in this field?
About two years ago, I decided that my day job at an accounting office was definitely not where I wanted to be for the rest of my life. I created a simple business plan and timeline. Lauren and I both put our heads together, created a bunch of mock products, and then called our photographer friend to help us capture a “lifestyle” in the form of a party. This is the “Indian Summer” theme seen on our website. We knew that as soon as we had one good batch of pictures, we could really move forward with branding.
Did you have any previous experience in this field before starting your company?
Only as a hobby. We just crafted party decorations for our own events and realized, we were quite good at it and could turn in it into a viable business.
What were your biggest concerns/insecurities about starting this venture?
Money, time, not having any prior business experience. And taxes/licenses/permits… all terrifying.
How did/do you overcome them?
Taking it one step at a time. We knew we had a lot of groundwork to cover before we needed to worry about becoming “official” . Like creating new products and building inventory, building a website, stocking up on supplies, networking, photographing products, testing our products in real life settings… all these things we were pretty comfortable with. By the time we accomplished everything on that list, we felt more confident taking the next steps into becoming a fully formed business, like applying for licenses and such.
What was/is your favorite go-to source that kept you inspired to follow your own path, when starting out?
We have a fashion designer friend who might just be the most inspiring person on the planet. She has always been incredibly supportive and motivating. She always said, “I’ve made every mistake there is to make as a small business owner, so I know exactly where you’re at and what you need to do.” It’s comforting to know that no matter how big our problems seem, there is always a simple solution and that the most overwhelming part is the fear of not knowing how it will all turn out. Having a person like that to put things into perspective helped us tremendously.
How did the idea of your company change from the very beginning of inception to what it is now?
We thought we were going to sell these amazing party boxes that contained everything you could ever want all in one box. I still like this idea but we had to be realistic, especially in the beginning. Simplifying our products and listening to what our customers want has really helped to shape the company.
What would you say is the greatest thing you learned about starting a new company from the process of starting Paper Fox LA?
That not knowing how to do something is NOT an excuse for why you “can’t”.
What was the first ah-ha moment, when you realized that all your hard work was coming together as a reality?
When I was able to step away from my “day job” and be fully immersed in Paper Fox LA. I hustle full time now!
What would you consider Paper Fox LA’s biggest accomplishment so far?
Hiring 3 part time employees and an intern
Did you sense any difference in yourself from before you decided to pursue your own venture to after?
I definitely felt more motivated and energized. Even though the work is difficult at times, I always feel excited to know that I am working to achieve my goals and dreams rather than working to achieve someone else’s.
Where would you like to see Paper Fox LA 5 years from now?
I would love to have a storefront and event space. A place that could be rented out for various parties and soirées. I want to be able to host regular DIY craft nights and “Crafty Brunches”. In the store front, I would like to carry a collection or party decorations that I’ve gathered from various countries around the world – France, Germany, Thailand. I’d also like to sell other goods made by local makers.
What advice do you have for ladies (and gentlemen) who are on the verge of making a bold life/career decision themselves?
Just do it. Think of all you could have accomplished if you had only started a year ago. You’ll be wondering the same thing next year too. Just do it.
L.A. Lady Culture
Favorite area of L.A.? Los Feliz because I love Griffith Park.
Favorite restaurant in L.A.? Preux and Proper in Downtown.
Menu item we must try from this restaurant? Shrimp beignets!!
Favorite L.A. weekend activities? Cinespia, camping in the Los Angeles National Forest and, in the summer, I love going to Sock Puppet Theater.
Audio of choice when sitting in traffic? Lana Del Rey.
Place or thing you want to do most in L.A. but haven’t yet? Horseback riding in Griffith Park by the Hollywood sign.
Biggest L.A. guilty pleasure? Funky Sole at the Echo! Not so “guilty” but, ya know.
-Jessica Deans, of Paper Fox LA