Listed below are 6 MUST HAVES from a stationery vet, that will help you with how to start a stationery business.
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I have been successfully running a stationery business for about 12 years now, and in that time I have become quite familiar with the many tools needed to succeed in this type of business. I remember my eager self just getting started and needing all the help I could get. That being said, I am so happy to be a part of your journey in getting started in the stationery world!
Here are my 6 MUST HAVES for running a Successful Stationery Business…
1. The Best Printers for a Stationery Business
a. The HP Laserjet M553n
This is a great starter printer to help you get you going in the stationery business. It was my first printer when I started, and even though I have graduated from this one, I still highly recommend it.
- Quality prints
- Great speed (keeps the orders flowing smoothly)
- Handles heavy card stock with ease
- Trusted with envelope printing (a struggle you will enjoy missing out on)
The HP Laserjet M553n is an overall 4.5/5.0 in my ratings book, because of its low maintenance, relatively low cost, and it’s user friendly approach.
b. Canon Pixma Pro 9000 – Inkjet printer
The Canon Pixma Pro 9000 is certainly a workhorse. THE best printer for stationery, honestly. I think I have about 12 of these in my office currently, constantly working on orders.
- Handles heavy cardstock with ease
- Feeds from the top, so your card stock wont get stuck
- Prints larger card stock sized (up to 13in) for larger art prints
- Sharp, clear, print quality
If you are wanting to skip the starter printer, and go straight for the big guns, I would suggest this one as an exceptional upgrade.
2. Stationery Paper & Envelopes
a. Neenah Paper & Packaging
This paper company provides some of the best heavy cardstock for your luxury stationery business. I have been purchasing from them for years and have nothing but good things to say!
- Quality/thickness/ durability of the paper is desirable by customers
- Smooth surface to write on with no bleeding through or on the paper
- Great customer service (Handle LARGE orders easily)
The last thing you’ll want to cheap out on when running a stationery business is the paper! Working with Neenah will be well worth your money and your time.
b. French Paper Company
French Paper Co. is another great choice when deciding who to get your paper from. I currently use them for my envelopes, but their paper is just as amazing!
- HUGE variety of colors in paper, and envelopes
- Great quality (smooth finish, thick expensive feel)
- Pricing is unmatched
- Speedy shipping
French Paper Co. is a great company to start with, because of the relatively low cost and the variety of colors/styles to choose from. Once you find your personal style you can venture off, or stay. Totally up to you!
3. Product Packaging Supplies
a. Clear Boxes/Sleeves
One thing I will always advocate for is clear boxes or sleeves to put your finished stationery in. Reasons for this are:
- Clean, sleek, luxury stationery look
- More durable during shipping process
- Strengthens customer trust in your brand and product when they can SEE what’s inside
These are the type of MUST HAVES that you will want to invest in to keep those customers coming back, and advocating for you and your success.
b. Envelopes VS Boxes (What should you SHIP your product in?)
Now, you want to make sure whatever you ship your product in is durable enough to protect that cute personalized stationery inside. I have had experience with shipping in envelopes, as well as boxes. So, below I have made a PRO and CON list for each to help you decide!
- Envelope PROS:
- Great price - but in bulk
- No assembly needed
- Takes up less space in storage
- Lightweight - Cheaper shipping cost
- Envelope CONS:
- Not as durable during shipping
- May need extra tape to keep secure
- STICKY! (The glue used to keep the package closed can get sticky, but it's nothing serious)
- Box PROS:
- Very durable during shipping
- Relatively low in cost
- Easy to store when kept broken down and flat
- Box CONS:
- Shipping costs are higher - heavier weight
- Assembly time is longer
- Sealing (You will need tape and bubble wrap to ensure your package is safe inside)
c. Gift Wrapping
My absolute favorite part of the whole packaging process! This is where you can get a little more creative and personal for your customers. Some people gift wrap every single order, and some only gift wrap actual gifts. Another "totally up to you" moment.
- May Arts Ribbon
- May Arts Ribbon is the company I buy all my ribbon from for gift wrapping. The quality is so great and their selection is never ending! They also conveniently sell on Amazon.
4. Stationery Office Supplies
a. Heavy Duty Electric Creasing Machine
Ever wondered how those folded notecards are always creased so perfectly? It's not by hand I will tell you that.
I currently use my local print shop, but back in the day this is what I started off with, and learned a lot from.
Here are some quick perks:
- Cards run through the machine with ease (Like butter!)
- As close to a local print shop as you can get at your own office/workspace
- Easy learning curve
See it in action HERE.
PRO TIP: If you score your cards before you print, you will have stacks of them ready to print on at any given time.
b. Guillotine Heavy Duty Industrial Paper Cutter
A paper cutter is another must have for your stationery business, and the Blade A3 Heavy Duty Guillotine Paper Cutter certainly lives up to it's name.
- Chops very large quantities of paper with ease
I personally use it for 110lb card stock, but it can also be used on heavier/lighter paper.
- Adjustable bar for sizing up your paper (invitations, business cards, wedding signs, etc.)
- You get what you pay for (in a good way) it is a little more pricey, but it works!
There is a small learning curve to using it - but nothing a quick YouTube search and a pack of reject card stock that you no longer need can't fix. Check out Nick the Booksmith's tutorial HERE.
c. Photo Max Paper Trimmer - for smaller quantities.
Now that you have your big monster chopper, a smaller paper trimmer is next on the list. There comes a time when you might only need to trim a few here and there, and the chopper wont be needed.
- Great for smaller projects like, a few luggage tags, or wedding signs.
- Long lasting
- Self sharpening blade
- Easy to learn
- Easy pick up and store away
It’s a great paper trimmer to have on hand, especially if you are not quite ready for a large one like the Guillotine Heavy Duty Industrial Paper Cutter.
5. Graphic Design Software
Ah yes, the infamous Canva. This is such a great place to start your designing endeavors. I would recommend purchasing the monthly subscription to Canva Pro ($12.99/mo) , so you can really get the full experience.
Here are some Perks of starting with Canva Pro:
- Low cost designing website
- Variety of graphics, fonts, and themes to choose from
- Easy to learn
- Addicting (Yes, I have spent many late nights playing around with all the cool features)
- Can also be a great tool for you social media presence
The list could honestly just keep running on! If I haven't already said it enough, Canva is a great place to jump start your personalised stationery business.
b. Adobe InDesign
If you are entering the design world you might have heard of the application Indesign. This is the application I currently use when creating my stationery designs. Here are some things to note before jumping straight into an application like this:
- This will take some time to learn and get the hang of
- A lot of computer work is required (not too much computer knowledge, but the basics at least)
- The subscription is a little more pricey (about $20.99/mo)
- Blank slate start (unlike Canva, you are always starting with a blank slate)
I recommend this app to those who really want to dive deep into the design world, because in the long run, learning how to utilize this app to your advantage will be well worth your time.
c. Font Books
Now this is just a little tip or trick I thought I would include for those of you that may be visual learners like me. Seeing the fonts in action is something that needed to happen first for me. And of course it needed to be very organized. Here is how to make your own font book in a few simple steps:
- Find yourself a mammoth binder to hold all the pages
- Print out EVERY font. Yes, every single font (personally I organized them in a google doc alphabetically)
- Then, find some cute tabbed dividers to organize them by category within your binder.
Whatever your own organization system may be, it certainly helped be become more familiar with different font styles!
PRO TIP: This takes some time, and uses up quite a bit of paper, so I just printed it all on my Brother Laserjet - it’s my standard office printer, and the toner used up is minimal. Plus, the replacement cartridges are dirt cheap!
6. Building your Website Online
This one might seem obvious, but I actually see many small businesses starting out on social media platforms now-a-days. That is a fabulous idea, and is great to begin getting the word out there, but here are some benefits of having your own website:
- Having a physical place your clients can go to get in touch with you
- Being able to share your story with your customers via an "About Me" page
- Giving your clients an opportunity to see ALL your personalized stationery products at once
- Making something completely, and uniquely your own
I encourage you to invest your time and money into building that safe space for your clients.
Here are a few great places to start:
- Squarespace.com (great for beginners - easy to navigate on the backend)
- Shopify.com (growing in popularity among small sellers - and well trusted by me)
Well, there you have it!
My MUST HAVE list for how to start a stationery business. If there is anything you took away from this article, it better be one of the best printers for stationery I listed above.
For more information on how to start a stationery business, visit my blog: www.thehandmademastermind.com
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