Can you tell me who you are and what you do?
Kylie Johnson, owner and creative director of paper boat press, a ceramic gallery and studio in Brisbane; and Tiffany Johnson, Kylie’s sister newly joined (but long term supporter) of paper poat press in a more commercial role, looking at the business rather than the creative side. paper boat press is a boutique ceramic studio and gallery. We make our signature quote tags and Christmas ornaments that are sold in our gallery, as well as online and to wholesalers around the country. The collections also include one off vessels by Kylie using her poetry.
How did you start your creative business?
paper boat press has been going for a couple of decades now however the gallery and store in Ashgrove opened six and a half years ago. It started as a greeting card business but also included decorative ceramic work, over the years it has kept growing and changing. It was started by Kylie's desire to make a living from art, and although it started well before emails even existed it has remained a handmade, creative studio.
Tiffany always says she Kylie has always had a pen or brush in her hand, next year paper boat press will be 25 years old…. Time flies
What have been the hardest things in building your career/business?
This is easy: keeping it going…. Paying bills. It may look flourishing and it is in many ways, but it is still a business that sometimes doesn’t know if it can sustain itself. The retail world has changed so much over the years, and it has been a challenge to keep it going in a noisy social media world, but we think the longevity and good reputation has more than likely helped it sustain itself. This is a reality, we opened the gallery and although it had a family effort to get the property, we have staff and materials, electricity and stamina as we age ( we are both in out mid forties now)
What have been/are the best things?
There’s actually too many to name, but we’ll give it a go. Being able to live and work in your art is a blessing and I never take that for granted. But the best things are also the people we’ve met, the lasting and beautiful friendships we’ve made. And although Tiffany has always been a silent partner of sorts (especially as the business has grown and had the gallery) working now in a bigger capacity as sisters is wonderful. It has bought us closer, and has extended into us taking tour groups to Kyoto and incorporating Japan into the gallery exhibitions and life as a whole.
What’s your next big goal (personal or professional)?
To keep making beautiful things that enrich, celebrate and give mementos to people’s lives. We are working on a special project together that we will be able to reveal soon, but it will be both beautiful and a LOT of work, but will be a little game changer we think in the gallery and tour part of our sisterhood.
6. Finally, what do you think is your one ‘superpower’ that has allowed you to create this business?
Belief in the beauty of handmade.
For our first International Women's Day feature I did a short email interview with Kylie and Tiffany Johnson of Paper Boat Press. They are women in business I really admire because they are real, honest and unique; they follow their values and create amazing experiences and beautiful things.