Interview: Pulps of Wood
Stephanie Chiu runs Pulps of Wood and Twenty5octobers. Pulps of Wood stocks stationary and gifts. They range from clothing, socks, tote bags and pins. I was lucky enough to interview Stephanie about her shop and what she is currently up to.
Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?
Hello, lovely! I'm well and very excited to be included in this interview so thank you! And how are you?
Tell us a little bit about your background.
My name is Stephanie Chiu and I was born in Taiwan and raised in Vancouver, Canada. I was always a pretty "busy" kid growing up – busy in the sense that I was always up to something and making things. That interest in being creative lasted throughout all my school years, which led me to graduate with a degree in Visual Arts from University. I'm the creator behind the brand pulps of wood and twenty5octobers.
I adore your business. What made you decide to set up Pulps of Wood?
Thank you so much so saying that! For me, it's always a *pinch me* moment whenever someone tells me that they love my work. Sometime around my second or third year of University, I decided to challenge myself creatively and make something new every day for a month (mind you, this was all before hashtags existed and prior to #100daychallenge so maybe I was ahead of my time? =P). I’d hand-make a set of three envelopes each day. You can still see them on my Flickr: https://bit.ly/2NRWrcE.
I think this was sort of where pulps of wood first took shape though it wasn't till two years ago that I began to invest time and energy into building this brand. To be able to do what you love as a career is a privilege and I just hope that I'm lucky enough to make it last till I'm old and grey!
What does your shop sell?
I see my shop as a place to buy stationary and gifts. Currently, the items in my shop range from paper to home goods to clothing items like tees and socks, and accessories such as tote bags and pins!
Why did you call your shop Pulps of Wood?
The name definitely took inspiration from my 30 days challenge because paper was where I first started from and I initially pictured my shop to carry only paper goods. When I think of paper I think of how they're made: mainly from trees and recycled paper so the name pulps of wood is actually in reference to how paper is made!
How has your creative process changed since the start?
Creatively, my process hasn't changed. I still stick to my instinct and work intuitively. But I apply a different process when working with production partners. Cost and time become a very real thing and it needs to be considered when working with manufacturers in realising an idea. Another thing hasn’t changed is my fascination with reimagining the everyday and placing my Little Astronaut in settings that you wouldn't see otherwise. There's something really fun about rescaling the norm into something ridiculously colossal or in my case, comedically small.
How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?
I’m told that to be able to hone your craft you need to have been working it for at least 10 years. I believe we never stop learning new things and whenever I see how talented and dedicated other people are at their crafts I'm reminded that I still have a lot to learn. So in response to your question, I don't think I've hone down anything, yet! I'm super interested and love the creative process of design but man, oh man, I've got a lot to catch up to!
Have you always been into design and craft?
Yes, I definitely have! This love for creating goes way back in time when I was kindergarten where I'd make guitars out of cereal boxes with elastic bands as strings and newspapers as the neck. Then I'd play and sing songs for all my family with my handmade guitar. It was wonderful (for me but maybe not for them)!
Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?
Is it even possible to promote yourself without social media these days?! If there's a way, please let me know! I'm like an old granny that just can't keep up with techy self-promos so the only social platform I use is Instagram. I love how easily accessible social media is, and how it has allowed me to have this constant and instant inspiration wherever and whenever.
Who inspires your shop?
Creators who share the love of art and design. It helps to see other people's success because it makes me work harder to get to where they are. I love it when creators show behind the scenes because it's a reminder that everything takes work and I love learning about different processes. At the moment I'm loving StudioDIY and Oh Joy!
Do you have any favourite pieces from your shop that you adore at the moment?
You can often see me carrying one of my tote bags and my patterned towel is something I use every day!
What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram page?
I've been looking into stocking some embroidered baseball caps into my shop so that'll be posted once it's ready!
What's your typical working day?
I have two brands, twenty5octobers and pulps of wood. The former is where I create one of a kind colorful handmade resin jewelry. These two brands fall under different mediums, which I like because I can switch over from one to the other when a project becomes too repetitive. What I work on during a day depends on the orders from my retailers. Sometimes one brand might be more in demand than the other, so I prioritize it according to my orders.
What's been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?
Staying motivated and getting noticed. I work solo so sometimes it’s hard when I don’t have someone to bounce ideas off of and keep me on my toes. Like I said earlier, Instagram is a great platform to be inspired from but I feel like my designs get buried underneath the mountains of posts. I work hard on the content in my feed but it can get disheartening when I only get a few likes for something that I might’ve taken days to plan and shoot, you know what I mean?
Do you have any exciting plans for this year?
There’s a craft fair in Japan at the beginning of 2019 that I have my sights on so I’m planning to apply and get accepted – fingers crossed!
What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?
Some people naturally have their own distinct style down to a tee and others don’t. Whichever side you fall under the same goes for everyone: keep on creating! The more pieces you make the more you know your likes and dislikes and what you’re good at.
Do you have any advice for anyone starting their own shop?
Don’t be scared of the “what ifs”. If you’re passionate about what you do other people will see it too so you just got to go into it with the same passion!
What's next for Pulps of Wood?
I’m always looking to expand my collection. Textile is a medium that’s very foreign to me which is why I’d love to get into it! I think my prints would make for a colorful addition to any household.
What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?
Taking cue from Nike’s infamous slogan, “Just do it." I tend to overthink things so a really great way for me to get out of that rut is to just get lost in my work and make anything my imagination takes me.
You can also find Twenty5octobers on Instagram 'https://www.instagram.com/twenty5octobers/'.