Erin Hung is the founder of bespoke stationery and paper goods company BerinMade, and the author of Paper Parties. We caught up with Erin to discuss parties, papercraft and creativity.
How did your love for paper start?
As far as I can remember, I have always loved playing with stationery and crafts. Paper was one of the most accessible craft materials as a child so you almost just default to it, don’t you? I grew up in Hong Kong and there were lots of cool Japanese and hand-made paper I could get my hands on, and I remember feeling inspired and really energised whenever I saw rows and rows of paper lined up neatly. It sounds slightly odd but I think most craft-inclined people would agree with me, we get a bit mad over a bit of paper!
Writing A Dissertation Research Proposal When did you decide to start up your own business?
I was working in Christie’s in their Post War and Contemporary Art department in 2012 when I noticed that the winds were changing in how artists ran their practice as businesses. There was a lot of talk about blogs, self-promotion, social media and the cutting out of agents and dealers – it certainly felt like the winds were changing. There was a slow but very sure rise in indie-designers and artists taking control of their work and putting it out there on the internet and I was very inspired by that. I came from a Fine Art background and had always missed making things with my hand. Ben and I had just got married, and I loved the supportive, close-knit nature of the wedding industry. There were so few of us back then. I made illustrations and taught myself to use Adobe so that I could reproduce my work as stationery and invitations. I put it all on an Etsy shop. The rest was kind of history!
Can you describe a typical working day at BerinMade?
No two days are the same, but a typical day these days would probably be spent working on Paper Parties as well as our upcoming trade show.
I have a ritual of spending a couple of hours in the morning clearing out my emails and then leaving it for the rest of the day. If you want a reply to your email, get me before noon or wait til the next day! During that time, I also diarise all my deadlines, client work and appointments so that they are all dealt with and I don’t miss anything (hopefully!)
People always say tackle the biggest task first, but I always like doing the small easy ones first. By the time I do a handful of smaller tasks (usually more admin-based), I have worked up momentum to tackle a biggie (usually more design based). Lunch will fit in there somewhere and most of the afternoon I am either working on publicity, concepting a client project, or mocking up our exhibition stand. I can have my head down working for a few hours before I come up for air. We work in a shared space with a few other creatives so whenever I feel a little tired, I stick my nose in what other people doing. Probably a bit annoying for them but I love the communal aspect of shared creative spaces.
In the late afternoon, I meet with Ben (also my business director) for any outstanding things we need to decide on that are jointly creative and business-related such as pricing or marketing. Every other day I also speak with my designer Lana, and we’ll catch up on on-going projects as well as new briefs. Then I make a list of the things I need to do for the next day and then leave the studio for the day, and try not to come back to work until the next morning!
What’s the inspiration behind your new book Paper Parties?
I wrote the pitch for Paper Parties in the summer of 2015 having spent 3 years in the wedding and events stationery industry. I think that although paper as a material is a huge love of mine, I also love the social aspect of what it’s used for. I think that creating and crafting is really special when coming from a place of celebration (such as weddings, birthdays or Christmas holidays). Craft sometimes has reputation as something that is for the more introverted, almost grandmotherly, but I really wanted to turn that around and for others to see the social as well as relevant and design-led aspects. That’s what Paper Parties is about.
Paper Parties contains styling tips for several party themes, have you got a favourite theme and if so what is it about that theme that you particularly like?
When I was shooting the book with my team (who are all amazing artists, by the way!) I felt like I responded to the colourful and pastel themes a lot more, but now looking at the book I love them all and I can’t decide!
Have you got any parties in the pipeline that you are planning the decorations for and if so what are you making?
Not really parties, but we are actually working on a product line of craft-ready kits, with the first being our Gem Gift Wrap sets. I love the idea of making craft kits that are curated by trends and colours so that people can dip their toes in making something but having most of the materials already at hand so that it’s less daunting, and most of all, they are beautiful and design-led.
What is your top decorating tip for party organisers who are short on time but would still like to add some handmade decorations?
Go for scale! Oldies but goodies like paper pom poms are all tried and tested and have a great wow factor when colour-curated. There are a variety of tissue paper projects beside the pom pom, such as tissue flowers, honeycomb balls, crepe paper chains that you can get a very varied look on a short time scale.
Paper Parties by Erin Hung is available in shops now. Photographs by Charlotte Tolhurst and Lana Louw.