Pen+Pillar

How we started

It's 2015 and Justin and I are newylweds living in Saint Paul, MN. I'm 24 and struggling to find my footing- I tried and failed at college (literally) and didn't know what career path I wanted. I knew I loved creating art, but how do you make a living out of it? Justin looked at me one day and suggested I "do my own thing". At the time, my part time job was really just paying for gas and car repairs, so we sold our car and I "started my own thing". With no degree, no business experience, and no formal art education, I started Googling "how to use Adobe Illustrator", "how to build a website", "how to market your new business", "how to save a file for print", and so on until step by step Pen+Pillar began to take shape. I started by making logos and tattoo designs- it was fun, but I was quickly learning that freelance art was not for me. I began to think about what I could make and sell and decided on stationery. I had always loved getting mail! As a kid my mom would write me letters and send them to our house just so I could get mail. Stationery felt like a natural fit.

As you probably know, every business needs funding. Like most newlyweds, financial margin was not our reality. Justin was working as a Special Education Assistant, and I had very little capital from my freelancing, so working with a print shop was not an option at the time. Each month, we had anywhere from $50-$100 in margin, so I used that money to buy a printer, paper, and some supplies. For the first few months you would find me late into the night printing and scoring cards, or printing, cutting, and padding our notepads by hand. Most of our sales came from friends, family, and local craft fairs. If you are one of our early customers who purchased those hand made products: thank you, and I'm so sorry for the quality...

In 2016, we moved to my hometown of High Point, North Carolina. Over the next month, I started working with my first local print shop. We still work with local print shops, as well as manufacture our notebooks, planners, and recipe books by hand in our High Point, NC workshop and retail space that we opened in early 2021. If you're ever in High Point, we would love to see you!

I read somewhere that a good founder won't tell you how many people work for them- they will tell you how many people they work for. I work for some incredible people who inspire me every day. To my valuable team and customers- thank you for Pen+Pillar. It couldn't exist without you.

-Taylor, Founder

Intentional goods

Intentionality is woven throughout the process from start to finish. Every product begins as a hand-painted illustration on our founder's desk. It's then sourced sustainably and ethically by small print shops and packaged with minimal plastic use.

Inspired Living

Inspiration leads to connection. Within yourself, with others, with the community you're in, and with the earth. Our products are designed to inspire you with beauty and to create opportunities for increasing connection in every sphere of life.

OUr Mission

In a city where 1 in 10 people are refugees, we desire to be people who welcome. Pen+Pillar seeks to welcome the nearly 10,000 refugees in our city through employment and community. Our team is a reflection of our desire for our city: refugees and locals working together and learning from one another. 10% of all Pen+Pillar card proceeds go toward refugee resettlement.

Thank you for partnering with us in making Pen+Pillar a place of welcome.