Intentional goods for inspired living.
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!
Really though, Pen+Pillar didn't thrive until people more talented than me stepped in to take over where I lacked, like marketing, production, and math (anyone else forgot their multiplication tables? Just me?) to name a few. To my valuable team and customers- thank you for Pen+Pillar. It couldn't exist without you.
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.
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.
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.
Meet the team
Taylor | Founder, True crime enthusiast
As Founder and Creative Director, she's responsible for the artwork and creative direction of Pen+Pillar. On any given day, you'll find her painting, making new patterns, and dreaming up new products or ideas that are probably very overwhelming to Justin.
Favorite food: Mansaf
Favorite place she's visited: Amman, Jordan
Random fact: Disaster movies are the best movies.
Justin | co-owner, the guy
As Business Director, Justin works closely with our suppliers, sources and manages our in-house machinery, makes sure we are stocked with product, and helps packages get out the door on time. He balances Taylor with his sense of humor and grounds her constant stream of ideas.
Favorite food: Mashed Potatoes
Favorite place he's visited: Barcelona, Spain
Random fact: He's a huge metalhead who cries at almost every movie.
Hevin | Production Assistant, Team Mom
As Production Assistant, Hevin makes sure your orders are packed with care and attention to detail. "No" is not in her vocabulary- even on the busiest days, she's a calm presence at Pen+Pillar. She's an incredible cook and regularly shares her delicious Syrian dishes with us.
Favorite food: Tabbouleh
Favorite place she's visited: Istanbul, Turkey
Random fact: She loves writing poetry.
Greta | Brand Assistant, Content queen
Greta is responsible for all our social media content, email content, wholesale account management, and basically making Pen+Pillar look presentable on the internet! She is full of fun, big ideas, and there's no problem she can't solve with a good brainstorming session.
Favorite food: Cheese, Every Kind
Favorite place she's visited: Goa, India
Random fact: She accidentally killed a squirrel with a frisbee while playing frisbee golf.