It’s been a big year, and an even bigger season, for Chasing Paper’s Elizabeth Rees. This fall, her company partnered with Pehr, a children’s lifestyle brand, to produce a collection of nine products. What’s more, on the horizon are a slew of exciting projects, such as collaborations with Pottery Barn and Penguin Random house. All of this comes close on the heels of the release of Chasing Paper’s own new patterns, such as the sure-to-be popular Lady Body, which was developed by the Los Angeles–based creative company Team Woodnote. But what, exactly, are the business underpinnings of these exciting moves?
In this case, an actual, physical move. For some entrepreneurs, leaving New York means throwing in the towel. But for Rees, departing the city has proved to be part of her success. Since the small business owner relocated to her hometown of Milwaukee, she’s increased her bottom line by more than 20 percent, she says.
But let’s take a step further back, to before Chasing Paper’s founding. When Rees’s father asked some six years ago whether she could see herself working at the family’s printing company—which, over its multigenerational history, has churned out movie posters, billboard advertisements, and car wraps—the young entrepreneur saw an opportunity. “I said to my dad, ‘I don’t know if I’d be good selling what you sell, but what if I made something of my own?’” Rees tells AD PRO. Her father gave her the green light.
At the time, Rees was living in New York City. It was the early 2010s and Instagram and Pinterest were exploding in popularity—”people were starting to share their spaces visually,” she says. For Rees, who has always loved interiors, it was no different. “My mom tells a story that when I was little, I would go to the basement to play apartment, rearranging furniture, creating little vignettes,” she says. The initial decision to found a wallpaper company, utilizing her design sensibility and her family’s equipment, therefore made perfectly logical sense. And wallpaper, of course, can pack a visual punch, making it an especially fruitful product category to explore in the social-media age.
“When I researched the space, I found out that there were people doing low-end design—inexpensive vinyl decals, trees with falling leaves,” Rees says. “It felt generic and mass-produced. And vinyl is often a low-quality material. It isn’t something I would want in my home, so I thought there must be something better out there.” The wallpaper she’s created blends the texture and aesthetics of heritage brands with the ease-of-use of contact paper.
Her big break came when she was introduced to Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp by a mutual friend. They had just closed a series A round of funding and were building out work spaces. Rees created wraps for the support beams. “We installed them on a Friday, and by Monday morning Katia forwarded me emails from three girls asking, ‘Where can I buy this?’” Chasing Paper has since doubled its revenue every year since.
Architectural Digest is an American monthly magazine founded in 1920. Its principal subject is interior design, rather than architecture more generally. The magazine is published by Condé Nast, which also publishes international editions of Architectural Digest in China, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, Mexico, and Latin America.