Making Dollars from Paper

Lauren Winer Marrus draws on the skills and contacts she gained in B-school to help her build a successful stationery business

I'm founder and CEO of Chelsea Paper in New York City. Our core business is, an online retailer of personalized stationery, invitations, and gifts. So if you've just had a baby and don't want to venture out to the shops to choose birth announcement cards, you can just go online to, choose a design, pick your own typestyle and wording, and have the cards delivered to your door within a few working days.


  I founded the company in January of 2000, and we've experienced solid growth every year. Although we're currently below $10 million in revenue, we've been able to hire effective managers. Recently, I've been able to extract myself from day-to-day operations, focusing instead on long-term strategy issues such as how do we continue to grow at 40% or more per year, what related markets or products should we consider, how do we better serve our current customers, and so on.

My business development director and I are now completing a business plan for the pending launch of our wholesale division, Chelsea Notes brand stationery, which will premier at the National Stationery Show this May in Manhattan.


7:30 a.m. -- After getting my two children off to school, I head to my office in midtown Manhattan, right in the heart of one of the world's most renowned shopping districts -- no accident, since our Chelsea Notes brand stationery is inspired by the latest fashion trends. On the way, I'm usually firming up the day's appointments via cell phone and BlackBerry.

8 a.m. -- I get through as many e-mails and voice mails as possible and check my to-do list for what needs to get accomplished today. I delve into one particular issue in our strategic plan -- how do we get more value out of our studio (face-to-face) business -- that I've been meaning to flesh out in more detail. I get intermittent visits from employees. My marketing manager wants my input for a new customer-retention idea she has, my general manager is trying to improve operations, and I sign the lease for our new, bigger office space downstairs -- finally, enough offices for everyone! Thank goodness we had such a good holiday season.

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