Clare Founder Nicole Gibbons on Breaking into the Male-Dominated Paint Industry
From fashion PR pro to industry disruptor.
“We hope that our products make people happy and bring a bit of joy and beauty to their everyday lives.”
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Anna Bond wasn’t setting out to create a household name when she started her stationery business, but a decade later, that’s exactly what she did. “I never could have dreamed that nearly 13 years later the brand would become what it is today,” says Bond. Read on for how the artist built her company and what’s next for Rifle Paper Co.
Take us back to the beginning! Have you always had a love for art?
I have always had a love for art for as long as I can remember. I have memories of drawing as a little girl and have always been passionate about finding a way to be creative in life. I started out traditionally painting and eventually made my way to a graphic design degree and experimenting with illustration, photography, and typography. All of those things started coming together in Rifle Paper Co. and are part of my role now.
Tell us about starting Rifle Paper Co.
In 2008 I designed a few illustrated wedding invitations for friends (and my own wedding) which started to get some attention in the design blog community. At the time, I had been freelancing as a designer and illustrator for a while and was barely scraping by. Once I saw the reaction to the invitations I decided to pursue stationery. I had always loved cards, postage stamps, and stationery and it felt like the perfect mix of design and illustration that I had been looking for. My husband Nathan was in a touring band at the time and decided to start helping me fulfill orders and communicate with clients. We then used the money we earned from custom invitations to produce our first line of products and create a website in order to officially launch the brand in November 2009. I never could have dreamed that nearly 13 years later the brand would become what it is today.
Was there a moment where you knew this business was going to work? Where you felt like you “made it”?
We had such little expectations in the beginning that simply growing and getting business was so exciting for us. Over the years there have been milestone moments for us that felt like huge wins… hiring our first employee, paying ourselves our first paycheck, getting bigger press features, and selling our products to notable retailers.
What advice do you have for women who want to start their own business, especially in a creative field?
In many ways I am grateful for the time we started because it was before social media and there was so much less competition. I think today it is more difficult to cut through the noise. However, I truly believe that talent and good things have a natural way of rising to the top. And so my best advice is to create something unique, amazing, and that isn’t just a copy of what someone else is doing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and listen to what your customer is saying. Sometimes they have the best advice and see what you can’t about your own business.
Tell me about evolving Rifle Paper Co. into a true lifestyle brand?
The heart of our brand is the designs and our mission to create beauty in the everyday. Our roots will always be in stationery, but we have been excited to explore many other ways our art can show up on a variety of products from swimwear to wallpaper.
What do you hope your customers and fans get from the Rifle Paper Co. experience?
We hope that our products make people happy and bring a bit of joy and beauty to their everyday lives. We strive to make our products quality, approachable, and we do everything we can to take care of our customers. In many ways it is a very simple goal, but we work really hard behind the scenes to create things that are simply lovely to be around.
What is one of the moments in your career that you are most proud of?
One of my favorite moments was being given the opportunity to design a USPS postage stamp, which was a childhood dream. When I was little I was given my grandfather’s postage stamp collection and I started collecting stamps and loved pouring over all the different designs and artwork on them. To have been able to design a Love stamp in 2018 was definitely a personal and career highlight that I will cherish forever.
What’s next for you and Rifle Paper Co.?
We are very excited about a number of upcoming products that we have in the works. We have a new Rifle Paper Co. x Summersalt collection coming out this summer and lots of giftable products launching in the fall. Personally, I am just trying to balance work and family with three young boys and enjoying life here in sunny Florida.
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From fashion PR pro to industry disruptor.