Paper + Craft Pantry’s workshop programs bring community together in East Austin.
Outside The Paper + Craft Pantry in East Austin, a minty front door stands beside a black and white mural doodled with twine balls, ink wells, scissors and envelopes. This whimsical façade is a 180 from the building’s former generic existence as a warehouse for medical supplies. And owner, Pei Sim, is tickled by the public’s curiosity.
Since it opened in November 2015, The Paper + Craft Pantry has sold a creatively-curated selection of greeting cards, stationary, notepads, journals and home goods while offering —bonus — a workshop studio for aspiring artisans to hone their chops. While the creatively curated retail showroom is a meaningful part of The Pantry, it is the venue’s robust workshop rotation that’s bringing community together anew.
Throughout the month, Sim hosts events and workshops at this East 6th Street retreat, many taught by small business owners: painters, bartenders, bakers and calligraphers. “I want the workshops to be led by instructors who are truly pros at what they do,” said Sim.
Costing anywhere from $25 to $125, the all-inclusive workshop fees cover the materials and supplies, sips, snacks and instruction, along with a discount towards a purchase in The Paper + Craft Pantry retail showroom. While many of the workshops are artistically inclined, such as the loom weaving, screen printing or floral painting courses, others are aimed at teaching better business practices, from Marketing 101 to protecting a brand’s creative content with trademarks, copyrights and licensing.
Most popular to date are the modern calligraphy and brush lettering classes, subjects that have witnessed a resurgence in recent years. In June, creative types can learn how to decorate cookies from a local baker. Sim’s goal is to make the classes accessible to a diverse audience, while educating, broadening skillsets and creating a supportive community in the process.
Beyond workshops, The Paper + Craft Pantry also hosts different kinds of events, from an Austin Book Club gathering to a donation-based co-working initiative. Bloggers, photographers, designers and other freelancers can gather in the studio every Friday from 12-5pm to work on their collective projects; 100 percent of donations are passed on to local charities.
This steady rotation of events, workshops and networking initiatives is adding texture and color to the neighborhood. Whether it’s freelancers using the studio, students attending a workshop or passersby simply looking for an original greeting card, Sim’s budding business is succeeding in reimagining the community experience — in the name of paper and craft.