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JustPaperRoses, Inc. / JustPaperRoses®

American Made Since 1994

Jeff Block

Milledgeville, Georgia
We've had over 50,000 customers and NOBODY knows about us! "...she cried..." is not an unusual testimonial. Are YOU married? how many years?
Crafts, Celebrations

Tell us about your business.

In the early 1990s I rekindled my childhood interest in Origami, and found I really like to make Origami Orchids (standard iris fold, but I use triangle paper and the creative styling is all my own). At the same time I learned how to twirl a cocktail napkin rose around my fingers (millions of people do this) The "aha" moment was in 1999 when I was teaching kids in a summer art camp - I was the Origami instructor. I showed the kids how to twirl a cocktail napkin rose and as I was bending over to show a boy how to make one...are you with me?....drum roll please....here it is....I thought "what if I made an "upscale" cocktail napkin rose using my fine art paper that I use for Origami Orchids?" That night, I created my first JustPaperRoses® (name came later). To this day, I don't know if I already knew the 1st Anniversary is "paper" or if a customer told me of the tradition. I put my JustPaperRoses on a website (1999), and the rest, as "they" say, is history!

Tell us about your workspace, shop, or studio.

Standard bay in a strip center of 8 bays. 500 square feet up front for workspace, 750 square feet in back for supplies, raw material inventory, and shipping boxes.

What inspires you?

9 Grandkids - they think I'm a walking ATM, but really: I grew up in a small business environment. When the men in my family got together at family events, they didn't talk about sports, they talked about business. I love talking about small businesses, especially what I call VSB's - Very Small Businesses. I dropped out of the corporate world in 1993 - it was a mutual separation. I had created an Origami fold out heart shaped greeting card and thought I'd be in the greeting card business. In 1999 (story above) it morphed into JustPaperRoses. I really have no other choice for a job/career. I LOVE both the creation of my products and the running of a small business. I do not consider what I do to be w-o-r-k, it's just what I do with lots of my hours each day.

What makes your business stand out?

Many people say "I've never seen anything like these" about our products - well, that's because we have created our own products and product line. We "hide" within the Anniversary niche. My gratefulness goes to Emily Post who in the 1920's published an etiquette book naming 7 materials for Wedding Anniversaries, 1-paper, 5-wood, 10-tin, 15-crystal, 20-china, 25-silver, 50-gold. Who knows who filled in the rest of the table? (go ahead, ask me who created years 16, 17, 18, and 19). We get "...she cried..." testimonials from husbands. The first time it happened (year 2000) I was a little taken aback, thinking "these are NOT museum quality paper roses...". The answer is it is a "romantic setup". She probably knows the first is "paper" and probably thinks he is clueless about what to get for an Anniversary gift. And here he shows up with paper roses, and look closer...they are personalized with their names! She cries because he really put some thought into this....

What advice would you give an aspiring creative entrepreneur?

You know the old saying "do what you love and the money will follow?" well add to that "but NOBODY ever says how far behind the money is following!" But yes, do what you love. And do who you love. I don't know how any aspiring creative entrepreneur can go forward without a TOTALLY SUPPORTIVE spouse and/or significant other. My wife believes in me totally and it has been her belief that has gotten me through the times when my own self-belief started to get some cracks in the foundation. Her health insurance really is a plus too!

What does American Made mean to you?

Well, there are very few if any 100% American made products, and ours are no exception. But EVERY product we create requires our hands/fingers to do something. Some of our raw materials are imported, for example our floral stems are made in China (nobody in the USA manufactures artificial flowers any more). And the creativity and the infrastructure which allows me to operate this kind of business really is American Made. For example, many of our orders require very quick delivery (few customers think of their Anniversary more than a day or two in advance) - Thanks to UPS and USPS we in the USA can deliver. This could probably be replicated in Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe, but not in the rest of the world. American Made to me, means a 40 year old man (in 1994) who didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, could take his hobby of Origami and create a very nice small business for himself and his family - I'm not sure this could be done anywhere else in the world.

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