The Founder and CEO of Papier talks about personalisation, design, and the place of creativity in today’s e-commerce landscape.
Entrepreneurship has always been a part of what drives Taymoor Atighetchi, Founder and CEO of Papier. At 17 he sold antiques at Portobello Market, then at university he set up online student media platform The Tab with two school friends.
After a few years in management consultancy he knew he wanted to create his own business. “I saw that there was no one doing well-designed, personalised stationery in the affordable luxury space,” Atighetchi tells us. “I felt that there was an opportunity to focus on quality, both in terms of design and materials, without compromising on speed of delivery or the shopping experience.”
A key challenge from the outset was choosing which investors to work with. “It’s so important to be supported by people who understand your vision,” he tells Power Retail
Since that time, Papier has grown in its product offering and now offers custom stationery, including notebooks and diaries, as well as a personalised kids’ book and most recently, photo books. It has also increased to over 40 design partners, ranging from independent artists and illustrators to fashion brands and iconic institutions. Papier operates in England, USA and Australia, and has also launched French and German-language sites.
Atighetchi describes Papier’s business model as: “Design led, highly curated, personalised, print on demand.” That the company doesn’t hold stock which allow it to experiment and means it doesn’t ever need to run markdown sales.
All of Papier’s technology is built and designed in-house. “Technology enables us to deliver a best-in-class e-commerce experience where people are able to easily create beautiful stationery via our website or App,” Atighetchi explains. “On your mobile you can order a personalised photo book with the images taken from your Facebook account and our website lets you easily create beautiful wedding invitations or personal stationery without having to go through a traditional and expensive stationer. Having our tech team in the office with us every day means that we are able to develop new solutions quickly.”C
Papier’s marketing mix is split pretty evenly between search and social campaigns. The majority of its marketing comes from the strength of its brand, either in SEO, word-of-mouth or referral. “Instagram has definitely been our stand out channel,” says Atighetchi. “The medium just lends itself so well to our products, they are very eye-catching and stand-out in people’s feeds. Along with traditional press, we’ve also experimented with podcast sponsorship which has been really effective, and influencer campaigns to really grow a community around our product.”
Social and mobile-commerce obviously has a big link, and Papier leverages this connection. “Shopping via instagram on mobile phones is huge at the moment and instagram drives a lot of organic traffic to the website,” Atighetchi tells us. “In general we try to make everything as easy as possible to shop and personalise on a mobile phone.”
So, what are the challenges for Papier? “Ensuring we keep our strong company values as we grow in size is a challenge but one that is very important to me. Papier’s success is founded on principles of creativity and ambition and I would never want to lose that edge which keeps us agile and nimble,” says Atighetchi. “Most importantly though, it’s important that what we do as a business is set in a broader context and we make sure we have fun and enjoy what we do everyday. Being a UK-based business naturally makes it a challenge to try and expand into Australia but the opportunity is huge as it’s not such a crowded online market compared to the UK.”
Ironically, for a company that helps capture memories and publishes photobooks, one of Atighetchi’s regrets is not preserving the Paper journey: “I wish I had known to take more photographs – as we move into bigger offices, grow our team and make our mark internationally, I want to make sure that we remember it all.”
Like this story? Sign-up for the free Pulse Weekly Newsletter for more essential online retail content.