Dear friends,

If you've been following This Paper Ship for a while, you'll know how much we've evolved over the years. What started as two kids fresh out of art school, cluelessly selling custom hand-drawn wedding invitations on Etsy, turned into a thriving paper goods business with a whimsical illustration style built on years of collaboration.

Why would people even need us in this crazy technological world of smart phones, tablets, and Facebook Happy Birthday messages?

As we continue to dream up new paper products and think about where this is all headed, we've had to answer a lot of questions about ourselves and our purpose for doing this. Who is This Paper Ship? Why paper goods? How big do we want to grow? And at the end of the day, why would people even need us in this crazy technological world of smart phones, tablets, and Facebook Happy Birthday messages? (More on that in a minute!)

As we've answered those questions this year, we've undergone a lot of big and exciting changes, like splitting off our freelance illustration studio from our paper goods, rebranding both businesses, dream jobs like Target gift cards and children's board books, expanding our product offerings and in-house style, and switching our in-house printing from digital to 100% artisan letterpressed and screenprinted goods (currently still in progress). 

But the real transformation that has happened to This Paper Ship is in the heart of our business, our mission. So back to those questions, who are we and why would people need us right now? 

The world is so distracted and unhappy right now. We don't need to get into the nitty gritty of all of the political and religious turmoil that is going on today. It's all over your social media feeds and the news. Or what about all of the people you encounter every day who are just lonely, depressed, anxious, or suffer from chronic pain and sickness? 

Living rooms with people seated next to each other turn into computer labs.

Social interactions these days are mostly limited to indirect ways like texting, Facebook messages, or Instagram photos. And even when we're in person, those little glowing screens turn us all into zombies. Living rooms with people seated next to each other turn into computer labs.

We get distracted from our children, we fall asleep with those screens instead of our spouses, we tell friends and family Happy Birthday when Facebook tells us to, and we selectively post pretty photos from our magical dream lives (or so we want people to think). These inventions that promised us a more connected world have splintered us into little lonely islands.

Don't get us wrong, we are SO grateful for technology and social media! After all, it provides us a job doing what we love and feeds our family. It helps us draw close to faraway family, to where we feel like they're in the same room. And ultimately, it give us a huge opportunity to spread joy, hope, and love into an increasingly dark world. 

The world really needs joy and personal, face-to-face connection now more than ever.

We've been just as guilty with tech addiction over the years—all the more reason for us to reach out with our business now! The world really needs joy and personal, face-to-face connection now more than ever. 

Deliberately picking out and giving someone a handmade card in person for their birthday or anniversary, snail-mailing an uplifting note to a discouraged friend, handing a happy card and a smile to a stranger, or hanging an inspirational art print in your home are all small ways to be encouraged, encourage others, and connect on a real, non-digital level. They're small ways of truly resisting the vacuum of negativity and hatred that are sucking us all dry.

We want to make things that are real, tangible, and meaningful. Our products will all be hand-made, from cutting the recycled paper down with our enormous old stack cutter, to imprinting the images on the paper layer by layer with hand-mixed inks.

We're bursting with ideas! We've got plans to not only have the standard "sending situation" letterpressed cards like birthday, anniversary, holiday, get well, and sympathy, but also cards that encourage "paying it forward" and seizing chances to encourage those around you. (We'll reveal more about that in later posts!) We also want to offer elegant and uplifting hand-printed art prints for your home, paper toys that help your kids unplug and use their imagination, and fun and colorful paper goods for gatherings and parties. 

Another big change we'll be posting about is our new workspace! Almost a year ago we left our old cotton mill loft apartment in the quirky town of Saxapahaw, NC to a 1970's fixer-upper ranch in the country outskirts of Sanford, NC as first-time homeowners with a 1-year-old baby girl. 

One of the biggest selling points of the house was the 400 sq. ft. outbuilding in the backyard, which we're now in the thick of renovating for our studio and print shop. We'll be blogging about our progress as things move along so you'll get to see a lot of before and after photos. (Mostly "before" right now because we're elbow deep in the ugly part!) Follow us on Instagram for regular fixer-upper progress on the studio at #thispapershipstudio. 

We'll also be embracing our roots and turning this blog back into more of a lifestyle brand. In the early days of This Paper Ship we mostly wrote about baking strawberry tarts, gardening, traveling, and studio messes. We want to share more of ourselves with you again and offer regular posts about DIY projects, recipes we've loved, insights into the lives of a work-from-home mom and dad team, and everything inbetween. 

Ultimately, we just want to use our God-given gift of drawing to spread joy and light into the world.

We hope you're as excited as we are for the direction This Paper Ship is going in and we can't wait to share more with you. Thank you so much for faithfully following us and our crazy shenanigans over the years!

Ultimately, we just want to use our God-given gift of drawing to spread joy and light into the world. We always appreciate when you send that joy and light right back to us.

Love, 

Joel & Ashley