Tell us a little bit more about you and what it is you do?
My name is Sonia, I am 28 and live in Verona, Italy. I am a papermaker who concentrates on the production of wedding stationery: from wedding invitations to menus, I love creating all those paper elements that are part of a wedding. Not only I produce the paper but I also take care of the design and the digital printing in-house. Thanks to this job, I finally get to express the creativity that has always accompanied me, but never found a good way to be developed. I consider myself as a happy person, doing what I love on a daily-basis helps me to really appreciate life! I love good food, taking long walks - I usually spend summer vacation backpacking through Italy with my husband, music is always with me, I play the ukulele and I care about sustainability. When I started my business I already knew that the type of paper I would have produced was recycle paper only (there are so many kinds of paper), I love the fact that something that you would normally trash, can become something so valuable and precious such as a wedding invitation!
How did you get into paper and recycling?
It was not planned at all. In 2012 I spent a year in the US, I was au pair in a family in Boston and during those 12 months I got into paper through a mixed media class I randomly decided to take. Papermaking was something that got my curiosity from the very beginning so I started doing some research on Google and found out that with just a couple of items it was possible to recycle paper at home. I started experimenting and I was happy to find a new hobby! Once back in Italy I started working in an insurance
company, I spent almost 4 years working in an office in which lots of papers were trashed daily. I started collecting it all, on Fridays I used to bring all the waste paper from the office to my garage so I could recycle it during the weekend for fun. When I told my colleagues about it, they were happy to help and most of them started keeping a box under their desks that said "waste paper for Sonia".
After almost 4 years at a job I did not like, I decided I was too young not to try doing something that would make me happier so I suddenly quit the insurance company to start a new adventure. For about a year I was a student at a papermaking school in Toscolano Maderno, a small village in the province of Brescia that has a long papermaking history and tradition. Together with other young people we worked at a papermill, enjoying producing paper every day. I was finally happy.
When and how did you decide to turn it into a business?
After the experience at the papermill, I could not deny how much paper changed my life, I decided to give it a try and started looking for a small studio to rent (it couldn't be possible for me to make paper at home). I found my small studio in a co-working space together with other young business owners. The day after I got into my new space I was asked to work part-time as secretary for the co-working space. I thought it was a blessing: working at a part-time job, while figuring out if paper could actually become something more than a hobby was a perfect place to be.
This kept going for 3 years, that was the duration of my part-time contract. At the end of the contract I decided it was finally time to quit all the things I was doing and concentrate only on paper (I have always been working at more jobs at the same time since I can remember). In March 2020 I finally opened my paper business and became a full-time artisan, then a global pandemic happened, but that's ok, finding the courage to finally take the leap has given me such a happiness that I never experienced before, sometimes I ask myself why I didn't do this earlier!
Do you remember your first order?
Since I started making paper in 2012, I have been creating so many pieces of stationery. I think my first order was business cards, something I got asked a lot in the beginning.
Do you have any creative processes to inspire your designs?
I love nature, which is the main source of inspiration. In general I take inspiration from
things that are not necessarily wedding-related. I like looking at the architecture and fashion world for inspiration. Most times ideas come from playing with paper: I mix different colours, textures, I imagine the final product. When an idea does not convince me I try to look at it with a different perspective, I change the order of the elements..in general it really is all about playing with paper.
Are there any special or favourite designs you have made?
I wouldn't say I have a specific design I like, but I definitely have some techniques that I love applying to my invitations: I love paper layers, playing with the texture of the paper and printing over paper layers!
What's next for Carta Muriel?
We have been all affected by Covid, especially the wedding industry. I went full-time with my business in such a strange year that I would like to experience working in a non-pandemic situation! Despite everything, 2020 has been a year of connections, I have learned so much and I think 2020 got me prepared for 2021! I am excited for what's to come, my husband and I recently bought a house and we will be moving in a few months. The house will have a space for my papermaking studio as well as for my husband's business. He is a ukulele maker and I am so glad our house will also be home to our small businesses. I hope to recycle a lot of paper and to make many more couples happy!
To find out more about Sonia's fantastic bespoke artisan paper making, you can find her at the Carta Muriel website and social platforms:
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