by Jennifer Allen
As we begin 2015, it’s hard for me to believe where we are now as compared to where we started in the fall of 2011. We purchased Paper and Ink Arts from Brenda Broadbent, who founded it 30 years prior. We began with two employees, other than myself, all new to the world of calligraphy and relatively new to the world of small business. To say we had much to learn and much hard work to do would be an understatement of epic proportions. That first year in particular was often overwhelming, but we were fortunate enough to have wonderful customers who stuck beside us during our transitional growing pains. Our staff worked tirelessly, taking on a wide array of roles, to get Paper and Ink Arts in Nashville off of the ground, and we would not be where we are now without the hard work they performed each and every day. We quickly realized we’d need more than three people to make things run smoothly and added a fourth staff member early on during that first fall.
Since then, things have continued to grow, and we currently have seven staff members. I know I’m biased, but I consider this staff to be one of the best group of people you could have for your business. With diverse backgrounds and interests, they come together to be sure you get your orders efficiently and effectively. Each one of them brings a set of skills and talents to the table that improve our overall business capabilities. They also understand the importance of customer service and work hard to excel in that arena. As a small business, we may not always be able to beat our competition in terms of pricing, so we aim to provide outstanding customer service, treating our customers as individuals and getting to know their needs. This staff internalizes that goal and strives to meet it day in and day out. Thus, I want to take the time to introduce you to them and give you a brief overview of what they do so that you can know a little more about our team.
(Back Row L to R: Kyle, Josh, Jennifer, Morgan, Steve Front Row L to R: Courtney and Akua)
Morgan is our Managing Director. In day to day terms, that means she oversees our staff and daily processes to be sure all is running well. She is always looking to improve overall efficiency so that we can meet our customers needs and exceed their expectations. She also maintains and continuously improves our website and manages accounts receivable.
Josh is our Customer Service Director. He ensures that our customers have the best experience possible by taking orders by phone, contacting customers who have back orders, assisting customers who have questions or concerns, and processing gift certificates and returns. He never hesitates to go above and beyond for our clientele.
Kyle is our Purchasing and Inventory Coordinator. He oversees the inventory and places all of our orders with vendors to ensure that you have the products you need when you need them. Because of the sheer number of vendors we work with and the need to stay in constant contact with them to be certain orders are sent to us as quickly as possible, this is an enormous task. He also receives and stocks all shipments and helps with order processing.
Akua and Courtney, our Order Fulfillment and Product Specialists, handle order processing. Both pull and check orders on a daily basis. Akua imports all of our web orders (which can be quite daunting on busy days) and creates their shipping labels, and she also is most often the staff member who helps in-person customers. She has a strong product knowledge, so she frequently helps customers problem solve and helps take orders by phone.
Courtney handles shipping for international packages, UPS packages, and orders that have been modified in any way. She consistently makes sure the warehouse is tidy and organized, restocking inventory items when necessary. Courtney also answers phones when needed.
Steve, our Shipping and Receiving Specialist, packs our orders. He takes great care to make sure that your orders are wrapped and packed to reach you in optimum shape. He also helps pull orders and stock inventory as needed. Each member of our staff further fills in wherever they are needed at any given time. While everyone has a primary role, the reality of small business is that all of our team members have to be willing and able to assume other responsibilities when needed, and this team never hesitates to do so.
I serve as our Executive Director. Now that we have a full staff, my position mainly entails marketing, staff product training, conference coordination, business growth opportunities, and overall strategic planning.
In terms of where we operate, we’re located in an office park just outside of downtown Nashville. Our sister company, Marker Supply, had been at this location for a few years before we acquired Paper and Ink. Fortunately, the suite just next to Marker Supply became available at exactly the right time.
As you walk through our front door, you enter into the lobby and Akua’s workspace. In the very front of this area, we store all of the packages shipped via USPS for daily pick-up. We also have a sample table where customers can try products before buying them.
From there, you enter into our center area. We’ve used this area for classes, but recent growth has required us to adapt it to store clearance inventory and overflow books and dvds and to check orders before they are shipped. Josh’s work area is just off of this main room, as are offices for Jennifer, Morgan, and Kyle. Kyle’s office also doubles as the book room where the majority of the titles we sell are stored.
Most of our inventory can be found in our warehouse. We keep everything organized by category to make picking orders as simple as possible. Steve’s shipping area is in the warehouse, as is Courtney’s workspace. Though our inventory is not arranged in a traditional retail setting, we frequently have customers come to shop in person, which we love. We’re open to the public from 8:30a.m.-4:30p.m. Monday-Friday.
The past three years have been simultaneously challenging and rewarding. I’m excited both about where we’ve come from and where we’re headed, and I’m thankful to have a stellar team and an exceptional customer base that makes it all possible. We look forward to serving you in 2015 and beyond!