We had the good fortune of connecting with Katelyn Woolley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katelyn, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I didn’t really plan to start a business… I sort of fell into this little greeting card company. In 2015, I suffered a miscarriage and felt incredibly secluded and alone. We didn’t tell anyone about our loss, as there was so much shame and stigma associated with sharing about an early pregnancy. (News flash, not a whole lot has changed)
Once we were able to try again, I was lucky enough to become pregnant, but that pregnancy was filled with complications. I spent 40 days in the hospital on bedrest, had an emergency C-section 2 months early, and then spent an additional 34 days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with our son before we were able to bring him home. Needless to say, I suffered quite a bit of trauma between our loss and the subsequent pregnancy. I was still grieving, and also struggled with postpartum depression.
After sharing our experience with a close friend, she recommended I use art to try and respond to some of the grief and depression I was feeling. I am a graphic designer by trade, and graduated with a fine arts degree, so it made sense to me to set off designing greeting cards. I decided to focus on greeting cards supporting individuals walking through miscarriage and loss, as there weren’t many options available at the time. I launched an Etsy shop with 6 greeting cards in 2016, and thought it would be a small side project. I didn’t expect there to be an immediate need for cards like this, and the feedback was overwhelming.
The Noble Paperie grew out of a desire to channel my grief, and since 2016, I have launched over 60 products with the sole focus of supporting and celebrating anyone walking through miscarriage, loss, and grief.
What should our readers know about your business?
What sets this small business apart is the deep love and appreciation I have for Loss Mamas and individuals who have experienced the loss of a child. There are thousands of greeting card companies out there, and in recent years, there have been more creatives starting small, boutique greeting card businesses.
The Noble Paperie is the only greeting card company whose sole focus is to create products to support individuals suffering miscarriage and loss, and I’m really proud of that. There’s a lot of work to do to end the shame and stigma around miscarriage and pregnancy loss, but I am glad that this little card company is taking that on. I have put in a lot of time getting The Noble Paperie to where it is today.
This has always been my side hustle – I still also work a full-time job that pays the bills. That means there have been a lot of late nights and weekends working away on Noble Paperie projects to try and grow this business. One thing I am trying to keep in mind, is that it’s okay if success doesn’t happen overnight. In the world of social media, every small business with a following can look like a perfectly functioning and well-oiled machine. It’s important to remember that slow and steady growth is sustainable, and that overnight success might sound like a fun and dreamy idea for a small business, but in reality, puts unneeded and additional stress on the business and those running it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
San Diego is an incredible place to live and I feel very fortunate to call this place home. There are SO many places to visit and see, and if Covid wasn’t a factor, my list would be very long.
I would definitely recommend attending a game at Petco to watch the Padres. The stadium is beautiful, and the food and beer offerings are some of the best in the major league. I would also recommend heading over to Coronado and spending some time renting bikes and perusing the neighborhoods and beaches there. Coronado has some of the best beaches in San Diego, and the ones along the bayside with a view of the San Diego skyline are stunning.
I LOVE food and I love to eat, so picking one or two restaurants in San Diego is difficult for me. A few of my favorites have also unfortunately had to shut their doors during the pandemic, but I wanted to share them here anyways in the hopes that they will all be able to open soon. I think one of the most incredible places to grab a meal and a cocktail is at Banker’s Hill Bar + Restaurant. To this day, I have had some of my most memorable meals there. BIG shout out to the fresh potato chips they make in-house. I also love Barrio Star, and definitely recommend making a stop there for some Modern Mexican Soul Food… not to mention their roasted jalapeño and blackberry margarita is worth the trip alone!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I owe this entire business and its success to my friend and mentor, Cheri. Cheri was the first person I shared my loss with, and she did what any friend would do – she listened. She allowed me to pour my heart out, and it was so cathartic to finally share this secret I had kept bottled inside for so long. As a long-time friend, Cheri knew my love for art and my creative background, and she helped to nurture that throughout my life. She also knew that healing could begin if I channeled my creativity into something tangible. Cheri continues to check in and help nurture this small business, and I could not be more thankful for her unending love and support.
I also wanted to give a shout out to the entire Loss Mom community. Since starting this business, there has been some acceptance with people openly sharing about their losses. I think Jessica Zucker is due credit for the #IHadaMiscarriage movement she started, which has grown and expanded over the years. Now there is an entire Loss Mom community on social media, full of women who have experienced miscarriage, pregnancy loss, and stillbirth. This community welcomed me with open arms and has been so supportive in my efforts to end the shame and stigma surrounding pregnancy and infant loss. Not only is it more acceptable to talk about and publicly share our losses, but it helps others suffering loss to feel less alone. The Noble Paperie would not be where it is today without the support of this incredible, tight-knit community.
Images taken by Kate Woolley and Hannah Mann, of Hannah Mann Photography.