Voyage Houston Interviews Infinity Paper Boutique - Extended Version
Meet Michelle McLaughlin of Infinity Paper Boutique in Downtown
Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle McLaughlin.
So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story. Hi! I’m Michelle, creator of Infinity Paper. I am the oldest of 5 and in my younger years, I grew up in Corpus Christi, Texas and I’ve been in Houston, Texas since I was 15. Growing up, we didn’t have much and I always had to be creative and think outside the box to help all of us kids be entertained. We had to be resourceful and create “games” out of nothing. I remember creating our own board games out of poster boards, I had to sew my own Barbie clothes and I watched Painting with Ross where I learned how to paint!
A few years after I graduated from High School, I stopped being “creative” for about 11 years. During this time, I ended up pregnant and was a single mom to my daughter. I was more in survival mode and working as much as I could. And that is when September of 2006 rolled around and took my life on a 360⁰ roller coaster! (I’m mentioning this story as I feel like it is a big reason why I started creating again and it is the biggest reason why there is a butterfly in the logo!) So here we go (with my hand over my mouth) …. In September of 2006, my mom was murdered by her then husband. It was headline news because it happened in a woman’s shelter with my little brother present. I know this sounds horrible and you can’t even imagine but with this incident happening, I no longer take life for granted, I’m kind to everyone around me as you never know what someone is going through, I thank God every morning for another day, I always make it a good day no matter what is going on and most of all, I started creating again since her passing. In 2010, I picked up a paint brush again and my artwork sold in some Houston restaurants and stores. Selling my items I created to the public gave me the confidence I needed to not worry about what others think. (creator’s and entrepreneur’s do fear this!)
Since my creative juices were flowing again, in 2013, while planning for my wedding, I of course made my own wedding items. From my decor, to swag bags, programs, and butterfly-shaped advice cards, I created and made everything I could. The one product that seemed to grab guests’ attention was the Wedding Fan Programs that I created. They told me how amazing our wedding programs were as well as all the other details. I casually mentioned to my hubby, “I could make these for other brides and grooms”. He thought I was crazy! I posted a few pictures and BOOM, the orders started coming in!! I didn’t know how to keep up with demand so that is when my hubby stepped in with the technical side of things and set up a cutting machine for me. (Yes, everything I created before was by hand; I know crazy!)
The orders still kept coming in to where it forced us to buy another machine to keep up. I then had to call in the troops; my girlfriends. I lured them in with wine and food to come help me! Then it became so much that I had to hire production help, designers, and photographers and pay hourly for their time. A year goes by and at this point, the two machines were still not fast enough so we had to upgrade to more professional machines which we still have today. The product line grew from one product to many more products based on the clientele’s demands while using quality items! Today, we create, we customize, we design to whatever the customer needs. We are infinite on ideas, creativity and products. Thus, why we are called Infinity Paper Boutique!
As for the butterfly in our logo and for the butterfly confetti added to packages, this is to remind us all that life is so precious, so short, and to not take it for granted. The butterfly is to also remind us all that we can all transform into something beautiful if you just give it time.
Has it been a smooth road? Oh my… it has not! I first want to say, I just like to create and help people. Running a business is not my thing! My husband had to help in many areas along the way; especially the technical and business law side of things. It was all a growing and learning curve throughout the whole process. From having to figure out the next step of things when business is on a high demand, to having to figure out things as business slows down. The managing of employees, to tax ID set up, staying on top of the new trends, to figuring out social media, and the biggest heartbreak from running a business that I learned is to NOT hire friends. In August of 2018, my business was doing extremely well; sales were abundant and feedback was at its ultimate high. My team at this time was perfect! They knew how to create, prepare and ship custom orders on a high demand basis. And just when I thought my business was on the right path, I was hit hard with identity fraud. I had to shut down my platform that I was so successful on. I lost most of my clients. (Some have taken the time to search for me again.) I lost all my product pictures, 900+ feedback postings, and most of my listing details. As a result, I lost 5 years of hard work and sacrifice with a click of a button! Regretfully, I had to let go of most of my employees and begin again from the ground up. So to answer the question, business is not easy and it hasn’t been smooth but you have to learn from the hard hits, dust off your knees, be vigilant and keep persevering.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Infinity Paper Boutique story. Tell us more about the business. Infinity Paper is a custom paper goods studio located in Houston, Texas.
Formed by passion for all things that are creative and a team of superior experience, Infinity Paper works with brides, event planners and clients around the globe creating customized programs, cards, signs, tags and other beautiful paper goods.
Every item in this shop is handcrafted and unique. We design, print and assemble each piece with attention to detail and truly love what we do. All materials and employees are carefully sourced because quality is extremely important to us, as we hope it is to you!
– Our paper products feature beautiful shimmer stock, high-quality matte stock and original designs.
– My handpicked team has the same values as I do. We care about each and every order; we want each client to be wowed when they open their box.
– Each order is carefully packaged. Your products are beautifully wrapped, placed in plastic bags and shipped with love.
– I’m soooo proud to be featured in Wedding Bells Magazine, Beautiful Things Magazine, Essence Magazine Bridal Bliss and Bridal Guide plus many other sites where the bride and groom’s wedding was featured.
– The sky’s the limit! If you don’t see something in the shop, just ask prior to ordering. Custom requests are highly and openly accepted.
– Lightning speed responses and we work over the weekends as well! We also can design and send a proof in 24 hours or less. In this day and age, everyone wants things now so we do our best to accommodate and perform in this manner. (with keeping quality the same)
– 10% of every order is donated to Show Hope (A movement for Orphans)
Bottom line, we are a group of women that truly care about your order. We design for free till you are completely satisfied and when approved, we print on high-quality paper/cardstock. Give me your ideas and I’ll make sure it comes to life!
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade? We are starting to see that people these days want instant gratification. I feel like Amazon has caused this so instead of being upset about it, we are now joining in on that train! You will now find some of our products for purchase on Amazon and we will continue to add more products on the Amazon platform as we have time. (We are still at the beginning stages.) We also have entered into one of the Boutique’s in the Memorial Area of Houston (location kept private) where we help the business owner revamp product lines as well as help create products that keep flying off the shelves! It’s a WIN WIN relationship!! So, instead of selling just through our website, we are venturing off to where instant gratification can be obtained.
Wedding Fan Programs – $3.10 – $3.90
Menu Circles – $.88 – $1.75
Stationery Sets – $3.75 – $16.50
Tags – $.40+
Place Cards – $.80 – $1.19
Invitations – $.96 – $9.75+