Little did she know upon landing in Peru, Grace began a remarkable journey that turned into a very successful business. With only $100 and a goal of supporting Peruvian women, Grace started Peru Paper Company. We had the pleasure of speaking with Grace about her inspiring story and incredible company:
I kind of borrowed the idea! I've always loved stationery and paper products, so when I saw a British friend doing handmade paper products with Peruvian women, I was intrigued! My background is in social work and community development, so making a business to help others by producing beautiful paper products was a very fun thought for me!
You started with only $100 and grew the business from there. That is miraculous. Tell me how it all began!
I had a British friend living in Peru who was doing a similar project with some women she knew. The ladies (who were my friends at church) loved crafts, so we thought it would be fun to have them teach us how to make recycled paper and greeting cards. We paid the ladies for the lessons in how to make paper, and bought a few craft supplies to get started! We had no idea people would be so interested in buying them! Once we started selling them, we wanted to reach more people and decided to make it a business.
They are all women we've known through connections through my work in Peru. Some women have approached us asking for work, and we've sought some out who we know could use the employment and who we think will be an asset to the company.
I wish I could go more frequently! I went about 2 years ago when I was pregnant with my daughter, but haven't made it back since she was born. We hope to make a family trip down there soon!
How do these Peruvian women inspire you?
They are very hard workers and very loyal friends. Some of them have experienced very difficult things in their lives or have lived in great poverty at some point. Despite these hardships, they have accomplished so much and are very generous and selfless.
It lets me be involved in international work from home. I can be with my family and still have a connection to Peru, even though I can't live there or even visit very often at this stage in life.
Beautiful, unique creations by Peru Paper Co. are available in many retail stores throughout Mississippi. Click here to find a list of stores selling their products in your area! Also, a large selection of handcrafted paper products can be purchased directly through the website, www.perupaper.com
All photos courtesy of Robby Followell