We have been big fans of Hazy Paper Co since we started following her on Instagram and fell in love with her hand-painted designs. Our wedding theme was "Celestial" so we love anything moon & stars, which happens to be Hazy Paper Co's specialty. We interviewed owner, Hailee, about her journey and why she loves her craft. Meet Hazy Paper Co. at our Mini Holiday Maker Mart Popup Shop on December 9th!
Tell us about your local business.
I still think it's crazy to think of myself has someone with their own business. Just a few months ago, my "business" consisted of selling my art to people through direct messages on Instagram. The support and success I found on that platform is what made me realize I had a chance at making this whole thing work. When I decided to make things a little more official and open up my shop on Etsy, I knew right away that I wanted the name to be Hazy Paper Co. For as long as I can remember, my close friends and family members have called me "Haze", so I wanted to incorporate that piece of myself.
Right now I'm focusing on greeting cards and prints of my watercolor work, but I'd love to expand further into the realm of stationery with planners, calendars, journals, and all that fun stuff in the future. I'm currently running this little business from my apartment in Cincinnati, and this works great, for now. An absolute dream come true would be for me to eventually open up a brick and mortar with a studio in a place like Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine. I'd love to be able sell my work face-to-face as well as teach workshops for watercolor and hand lettering.
What drew you to your craft?
I've always loved artsy things and I'm a bit obsessive over nice handwriting, so when I was looking for a new hobby, calligraphy seemed perfect for me. I Signed up for an online course and I absolutely loved it right away. I wasn't creating anything noteworthy at first, but I was completely hooked on it and couldn't wait to practice whenever I got the chance. It wasn't long before I discovered the amazing lettering community on Instagram. There are countless artists at all levels sharing their work, inspiring each other, and cheering one another on. I created an account just for lettering because at that time I wasn't confident enough to share what I was working on with anyone I actually knew.
Lettering reignited my love for watercolor as I began painting illustrations and backgrounds to accompany my lettering, and then even began painting large scale pieces without lettering. It seems crazy to say that a social media platform played such a role in me discovering my passions for this craft, but I'm not sure that I ever would have come this far without it.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
That's a tough one. Not to say that there hasn't been plenty of flops, but I try to create things with the mindset of "Would I want to receive this card?" or "Would I want to hang this on my wall?" I think this keeps my work true to my style and ensures that I truly love what I create. That being said, I think my favorite watercolor piece is my moon phases chart. I painted it using only one color, Payne's Gray. This hue is one of my absolute favorites and I love the depth that it has, and I really just love anything to do with the moon.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
For many years I wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I even got my degree in this field. I've always loved children and felt a really strong connection to them. When you're working with kids, you really can't expect everything to go according to plan. You have to go with the flow, get creative, and accept that things won't be perfect. I think being an artist or maker of any kind requires that same outlook, so I guess it makes sense that I'd feel so comfortable in these shoes.
What is your creative process?
I wouldn't say I have a very specific process. My work varies from large scale watercolor paintings to small, digital illustrations and lettering for stationery, so I guess it's clear that I have trouble focusing on one thing. This may not be a practical tactic for a long term business, but for now I'm really just going with the flow and creating things I love. I think this works really well for me and actually prevents burn out. After days of working on a digital project, there are times when I can't bare the thought of looking at a screen for one more second, so this is the perfect time to unwind with a paint brush and a blank canvas.
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
I would tell myself to explore art more and not to be afraid to try new things. I was in middle school ten years ago, and at this time I really didn't consider art to be anything more than a hobby. I wish I would have devoted more time to it. I might have discovered my passions much sooner, and maybe even avoided these student loans.
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
Artists and makers can't survive without your support! I hear people complain about the lack of quality or originality in mass-produced items from the big box stores, and then a lot of times it's those same people complaining that handmade or local items are too expensive. I don't think people realize the time, effort, and love that goes into those special items. We're not trying to pull one over on you, we're trying to bring you unique items that you'll love. The more support artists and makers receive, the more affordable their products will be, and then everyone wins!
Why do you love doing what you do?
I wouldn't consider myself a very structured person. I find it very difficult to put my best into something I don't truly love doing. I think that's a huge reason why this little business brings me so much joy. I'm able to do exactly what I want to do when I want to do it, and make sure that I'm only pouring my passions into the things I'm enjoying creating. I'll make loose outlines for myself in terms of scheduling when I want to complete certain projects, but I don't put too much pressure on myself to churn out new pieces if I'm not feeling like I'm in a place to give them my all.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
Just start it! I waited so, SO long to finally launch my online shop on Etsy because I was so afraid of releasing anything less than perfect. It's so hard not to compare yourself to really successful women who seem to be doing what you're doing way better than you. I wanted to make sure I'd hammered out every little detail and made it as professional as possible before anyone even saw it. Looking back, I wish I would have just thrown it out there and then made adjustments along the way. It's never going to feel like the perfect time. You'll always have a list of things you think you should improve before you put yourself out there, but I've learned that it's much harder to gauge those things in the dark.
What is your favorite thing about Exploring Ohio?
I've only called Ohio home for about six months now, so I feel like I really am always exploring. Growing up and living in California my whole life, Ohio was never really on my radar. I moved here after graduating from college and I have been so pleasantly surprised with all the beauty Ohio has to offer. I think this is the first year I've witnessed such a true changing of the seasons, and I have been so obsessed with it. The combination of such gorgeously preserved nature and bustling city life is something I've absolutely loved here in Cincinnati.