Inspiring Women: Paper Source's CEO Talks Careers and Creativity
Winnie Park gives us her career advice and shares why it's okay to not be perfect.
We all know and love Paper Source, the stationary and gift store that's a go-to for celebrating all of life's big and little moments — from birthdays to anniversaries and weddings and beyond. But, did you know that the brand's CEO is an inspiring woman named Winnie Park who's a champion of creativity and an awesome single mom?
We tapped Park, who's been at the helm of Paper Source since 2015, to ask her how she sees Paper Source evolving, how she got to this point in her career, and her advice for women who are looking to climb that corporate ladder as well.
What are three things that have helped you get to where you are in your career?
1. Great mentors who went beyond teaching me hard skills and really thought about me and gave me advice as a person and as a leader.
2. Great teams who were really committed to one another and the brand.
3. Having lots of support and help in my personal life. Being a working single mom, I couldn’t have done it without people who have helped me along the way. Be it other parents who helped, friends and family.
What inspires you? How do you use this inspiration in your career?
My daughter inspires me every day. I use this inspiration in my career to stay focused on the right things and remember that I’m a mother and a parent above all else. Secondly, as she gets older, I get a lot of inspiration out of the things that excite her and the things that she enjoys, especially at Paper Source, be it product, or DIY crafting. She’s a social native, so staying abreast of what’s happening in the world - she does a lot of that for me.
As CEO of Paper Source, how do you see the brand evolving? How has it already evolved with you at the helm?
I am excited that the brand is evolving to become that much more customer centric. Paper Source has evolved from being focused on great product, to becoming a brand that’s focused on delivering fantastic customer experiences.
The biggest evolution in my year-and-a-half at the helm is developing team-based collaborative leadership. It’s how we work every day. We’re always trying to put the customer at the center of what we do and how we do things.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
The best advice I’ve ever received is to not be perfect. To not aspire for perfection but to aspire to be more human, more real, more authentic.
What is your advice for women who want to follow their dreams and become CEOs too?
My advice for women who want to follow their dreams is first and foremost making sure you know what your dreams are: realizing what makes you tick, what makes you happy, aside from the pay and titles. It’s important to know that before starting your journey.
And my advice for women who want to become CEOs is to really know why you want to become a CEO. I think that knowing the “whats” and the “whys” not just the “how” is really important. It’s vital to know that there are many winding journeys to whatever career aspiration you have. Being non-linear is a great thing in life – and it’s important to enjoy the journey, not just getting to that place.
Paper Source "inspires you to do something creative every day." What do you do? Why is this motto important?
The way we work puts a lot of focus on creativity. It’s creative problem solving. It’s taking art and applying it to products, to marketing, to the store experience. The motto is important because it creates inspiration. Creativity comes in a lot of forms, and Paper Source is really here to be that point of inspiration to excite you. And creativity doesn’t have to be an aspirational thing, creativity is really attainable and it can be in the smallest little details.
What are your favorite Paper Source products?
The custom print products are my favorite. I love the stationery, the custom journals and our photo cards. I use them quite a bit. Something personalized is probably the most special gift I can give a friend or family member. A lot of work and thought goes into what is it that they want, what’s the right artwork, and putting their name in lights is really exciting. It’s a really personal gift you can easily create at Paper Source.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is working with the team. I love it! We have a very special culture where it’s not about people getting ahead, it is about people sharing and celebrating creativity. It’s pure fun here and I am inspired by how hard people work, because they really genuinely love the brand and genuinely love each other. Paper Source is a very special place.
At Livingly, our motto is "live life beautifully." What does that mean to you?
To me, the motto is about celebrating the things that you really enjoy and taking advantage of every single moment. I think it’s also about how you give beauty to others. It can be in the smallest ways: a beautiful handmade card, or thoughtfulness in terms of how you might hand letter an envelope. It’s these little things that make an exchange really personal. Paper Source is a joyful place and that is something we share. Your motto is about wanting and expecting the best from yourself and those around you.