Season 4: Episode 4: Martha Stewart American Made with Kim and Brett Borup of Paper Bandit Press [Podcast]

Welcome to Season 4, Episode 4 of the Indie Business Podcast! This season is all about celebrating finalists in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards. So far, I've connected you with Riche Holmes Grant from the Style category, Gilyn McKelligon from the Design category, and Colin Fickes and Mary Collins from the Food category. Today, it's about the Crafts category, and I'm pleased to introduce you to Kim and Brett Borup of Paper Bandit Press in Provo, Utah!


Brett is a college professor, and he and Kim have reinvented themselves as letter press professionals, making unique, handmade greeting cards, posters and custom paper goods. It all started when their daughter lost her job as a designer, and Kim and Brett saw an opportunity to help her. As you'll hear in this episode, they put their heads together and did so much more than that! Enjoy my interview with Kim and Brett NOW!

Listen to the Audio

Episode Show Notes

  1. How Paper Bandit Press came to be, including how their daughter's layoff led to the business. (starting at 3:00)
  2. How Brett's engineering training and the enjoyment he gets out of making things led him to the decision to buy letter press equipment rather than outsource the designs for printing. (starting at 5:05)
  3. “We really had no intention of doing this, it just kind of happened.” (Sound familiar?) (starting at 8:50)
  4. How Kim and Brett became involved in Martha Stewart American Made. (starting at 9:51)
  5. How the design process works at Paper Bandit Press, and how “happiness” is the ultimate goal. (starting at 11:48)
  6. A bit about the letter press market and Paper Bandit Press's business model: wholesale, retail, Etsy, and shows (starting at 15:58)
  7. How to differentiate your products and help your customers understand and embrace the unique and higher prices nature of your product. (starting at 16:54)
  8. Kim's words of wisdom and advice for selecting a trade show. (starting at 19:23)
  9. How Kim and Brett attract people to their website using Instgram and gift ad paper industry magazines. (starting at 23:00)
  10. How Paper Bandit Press gives back to the local food bank and other charities that are important to them. (starting at 29:45)
  11. Meeting other artists in local community groups (starting at 30:35)

Kim Borup, Paper Bandit Press

Four Actions You Can Take Right Now

At the Indie Business Network, we are not just about listening and being inspired. We are also about thinking carefully about what we hear, and then taking measured steps toward specific goals. Here are 4 actions you can consider taking right now based on my interview with Kim and Brett.

  1. Don't do anything you don't like to do: Of course there are paperwork and accounting aspects to running a business that are less than fun, but as Kim says, when you love what you do, there is a great counter-balance. Working from home helps, as Kim mentioned, as does donating to your favorite charities and creating a cause-related business model.
  2. Tap into people's emotions: Kim and Brett eloquently expressed how Paper Bandit Press does not really sell products, but instead sells an emotional connection from one human being to another that is expressed via their products. This is a principle that is central to the success of any business. The product is a bridge to the result your customer will enjoy as a result of buying and using the product. That's a huge mindset shift for many entrepreneurs, and one you'll want to embrace sooner rather than later.
  3. Prepare wisely before doing a trade show: Kim shared the truth that most of the work in a trade show happens before and after the show, not during the show. As you prepare for your shows, take this into account. The buyers are there because they are already interested in products like yours, but filling orders is a relatively small amount of the work that goes into making a show a success. Great tips from Kim here.
  4. Create or join Maker communities in your local area: This suggestion is so in sync with the philosophy behind the Connection Day Maker Mastermind Days I host that bring Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs together in their own cities and towns across America. Your local community cares about the success of your business more than anyone. It's in the best interest of your hometown that you succeed. Gathering together in your own back yard, even if you have a mostly online business, opens doors that the Internet cannot open. Take a tip from Kim and Brett and either start a meet up locally or find one and get involved.

Explore Additional Resources

Vote for Paper Bandit Press in the Crafts category at the Martha Stewart American Made Awards until October 19.

Visit the Paper Bandit Press website

Trade show: National Stationery Show

Awards competition: International Green Card Louie Awards Competition at the Greeting Card Association

Magazine: Stationary Trends

Magazine: Upper Case

Magazine: Giftware News

Vote for Paper Bandit Press

Vote for Paper Bandit Press in the Crafts category at the Martha Stewart American Made Awards until October 19.

Binge on all of my Indie Business Podcast Episodes

If you want to listen to previous episodes, you can find Season 1 here, Season 2 (Women Wealth and Wow) here, and Season 3 (Makers on Main Street) here.

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.