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Meet Theresa Anderson of Sweet Paper in La Jolla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Theresa Anderson.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
After college, I had a series of jobs I didn’t love and dreamed of creating something of my own. I had a few ideas over the years, like opening San Diego’s first champagne bar, but nothing ever really stuck. I just hadn’t found the thing I was truly passionate about yet. Meanwhile, my sister Julie had always loved stationery and contemplated owning her own store. When she found out the owner’s of India Ink had sold their store, she was devastated.

She took this as a sign that she should follow her dream. Around that time, I was contemplating opening a boutique candy shop. Talking about our respective dreams one day, likely over a glass of champagne, we had an aha moment and decided to team up. The obvious choice for a name was Sweet Paper.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Overall it’s been a smooth road, but of course, there have been a few struggles along the way. We originally opened in September of 2010 on La Jolla Boulevard, near The Bishop’s School. The space was on the first floor of an old home that had been converted into apartments and retail spaces. It was a darling space that needed a lot of work, so a good amount of our start-up budget went into remodeling. Once open, we quickly realized there wasn’t as much traffic in the area as we expected and parking was difficult, so we weren’t getting a lot of people through the doors.

In late 2011 my brother-in-law saw an available space on Fay Avenue and we jumped on it. After another remodel and a move, we opened at our current location in January 2012. While it was financially difficult to move the store after our first year in business, in the long run, it was the best decision we’ve made. Our sales instantly doubled!

Sweet Paper – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Sweet Paper is a stationery and gift boutique located in downtown La Jolla. We carry a highly curated selection of greetings cards, stationery, gifts and party supplies. We stock well-known brands like Rifle Paper Co. and Kate Spade, as well as independent designers from around the country. We are known for being a “go to” spot for cards and gifts. Customers can pop in, pick out a card and a gift, and leave the shop with it gift wrapped and ready to go.

Sweet Paper also specializes in custom wedding invitations and personal stationery. We carry invitation and stationery albums from some of the countries top designers and printers, including Bella Figura and Crane and Co., and also offer custom design services. We truly love helping our clients navigate paper options, printing styles, colors, and design choices. We are also experts on etiquette and will guide you through the do’s and don’ts of wedding and personal stationery.

I’m continually amazed by and proud of the community that’s developed at the shop. We know most of our customers by name and have built friendships with many of them. It’s so amazing to be able to share in the special moments in their lives, whether it be a new baby, birthday, or wedding.

I think the quality of our products and our level of customer service set us apart. If it’s not something I would personally use or send out myself, I don’t sell it in the shop. My staff and I work hard to ensure our clients have a positive, seamless, and rewarding experience every time they shop with us. Can’t find what you need in the store? We’ll order it for you. Need something printed on the fly?

We’ll do our best to make it happen. Need a gift but don’t have time to shop? We’ll pick it out, wrap it and run it out to your car. Need help getting your wedding invitations in the mail on time? We’ll keep you on track, help assemble your invitation suite, stamp and mail them for you.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
About three years ago, I took over running the shop by myself. It was a hard transition and honestly, really scary. All of a sudden I was responsible for everything. If the shop failed or something went wrong, it was on my shoulders. I had to learn another side of the business while taking on an additional workload.

As with any struggle, you just have to keep going and find your way, one day at a time. I do think it was a great experience for me to go through as it allowed me to grow my skill set and become more confident in my role as a business owner. I am proud of how I have grown the business since then, and knowing I have done it on my own is very empowering.

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Image Credit:

Jennifer Siegwart

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