5 Minutes With Taymoor Atighetchi, Founder, Papier

Papier is an online retailer that sells high quality, personalised stationery, and it has more than quadrupled in size over the past 12 months. In the advent of its recent Papier App launch, the Retail Gazette chats with founder Taymoor Atighetchi to find out what else is in store for the business.

Papier founder Taymoor Atighetchi

Tell me about the Papier story.

I’ve always loved art and design and was keen to build a brand which combines a strong art and design aesthetic with business and technology.

Entrepreneurship has always been a part of my character – at 17 I sold antiques on Portobello Market and then at university set up online student media platform The Tab with two school friends.

So, after a few years in management consultancy I knew I wanted to create my own business and I saw that there was no one doing well designed personalised stationery in the affordable luxury space.

What’s in store for Papier in 2018?

We are currently in conversation with new artists and designers about possible collaborations which is very exciting. In the next few months we have our eye on international expansion and we’ll be launching some exciting new products.

In London, we are launching the Papier Atelier to connect people to Papier’s world of creativity and design through a series of curated events, from Q&As to immersive experiences and workshops with artists and artisans.

We hope to expand this to other parts of the UK and to Australia this year, too.

How is Papier working with Ometria?

Whether customers are planning their wedding or using us regularly to send birthday cards to friends and family, we want to ensure we’re getting in touch with them at the perfect moment and with something they find useful, which doesn’t always mean a product. Our customers appreciate that we don’t bombard them with emails on a regular basis and value that we recognise their loyalty and repeat business in other ways.

What is the importance of personalisation in retail?

In terms of product people want items which are personalised to stand out from the crowd or to feel an ownership/send of something special and to stand apart from the crowd.

In terms of service, it’s important to tailor your communication to individual customers. We like to target customers with personalised content – products, content or offers which they might be interested in – at the right moment on their shopping journey and on the right channels they engage with.

Stationery and gift retail seems to buck the wider trend of downturn and falling sales in fashion retail. Why do you think that is?

For our customers a to-do list needs to be on paper to get it done, and a thank you note or card should be sent by post and stationery can be a creative outlet in a digital world.

More and more people are sketching, writing, doodling as a way of detoxing from the screens we are surrounded by. As more “everyday” communication becomes digital and electronic, thoughtful and important communication is becoming elevated through high quality, beautiful stationery.

How is Papier addressing some of the challenges facing the retail industry as a whole?

At Papier, we only produce products on demand, so in terms of stock retention we don’t have to use sales or discounting to sell stock that hasn’t sold.

This allows us to test new designs and products without taking any commercial risk as well as responding quickly to trends driven by our customers purchasing behaviour.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

Brexit is clearly a big unknown and that doesn’t help consumer confidence. It makes hiring talent harder as fewer Europeans want to work in the UK. It will also put pressure on prices.

Describe your role and responsibilities as founder of Papier.

My main role at Papier is setting the strategy and driving growth against that. This means being involved in all aspects of the business with a particular focus on hiring the best people to support the Papier vision.

What got you into retail in the first place?

I set up Papier to offer consumers a better alternative to what was on offer online in terms of stationery and personalised products more broadly.

I wanted to create something which was design led, offered great quality and was still affordable.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

My prior experience in strategy consulting has given me a good understanding of how a business runs and grows from small to larger scale. But selling antiques on Portobello Road taught me the most important lesson of how to sell.

And whether it’s in hiring, speaking with suppliers or marketing your stationery products, selling is an invaluable skill.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Ensuring we keep our strong company values as we grow in size is a massive challenge but one that is very important to me.

Papier’s success is founded on principles of creativity and ambition and I would never want to lose that edge which keeps us agile and nimble.

Most importantly though, it’s important that what we do as a business is set in a broader context and we make sure we have fun and enjoy what we do everyday.

And the most rewarding?

Working with the most talented artists, designers, photographers and illustrators. Being in a creative industry allows me to work with fascinating and inspiring people.

What advice would you give someone who is considering embarking on a career in retail?

Choose an area of retail you are passionate about. You have to love what you do.

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