This week’s Meet a Mom is Vana Chupp, Founder and Creative Director of Le Papier Studio, a boutique brand specializing in heirloom products (jewelry, art work and accessories). “Our products celebrate the present moments turning them into heirlooms to be cherished and passed down to the next generation. Our mission is to help parents to see the joy in the midst of the most mundane moments, to choose present over speed living, real over rushed, cherished presents over meaningless gifts,” says Vana, who is known for her elegant silhouette necklaces. We spoke to Vana, who is mom to Nikolas (14) and John (7), about her line, being a mompreneur and how she balances her home and work lives.
Your background is in architecture. How did you decide to transition into jewelry?
I am professionally trained as an architect but I’m an artist at heart.️ My love for silhouettes was first born as I began documenting the personality, emotion, and playfulness of my first born son. I started LPS 12 years ago in an effort to satisfy my creative passions—first as a silhouette portrait shop which soon moved into crafting custom heirloom silhouette jewelry for moms around the world. After running my business part time for 6 months, the demand got so high that I decided to leave architecture and focus on it full time.
Amazing! You’re known for your silhouette designs. Why do you think these have caught on so quickly?
Our silhouette jewelry brings so much joy to women (especially mothers) because it allows them to capture this special time in their children’s lives. We offer them a tangible way to “freeze” their faces and carry their little ones close to their heart (literally!)
What is the process like to order a custom necklace?
We utilize client’s favorite photographs to illustrate the people, pets, and special moments in their life. From those treasured pictures, we create one-of-a-kind heirloom pieces: silhouette portraits and exquisite jewelry, and perfectly personal accessories destine to become family heirlooms and passed down to the next generation. The entire process takes between 4-5 weeks – we first design the silhouettes, email them to customers for their approval and once we get the thumbs up, we send them to production. It’s a very involved process but we absolutely enjoy working personally on each order to help evoke the magic of that moment forever.
Do you have any client stories that stand out for you?
Last year I designed a brass postcard that resembled an old paper handwritten postcard a customer’s husband had received from his grandmother before she past. We engraved her handwriting on the postcard to be gifted to him by his wife for Christmas. It was something we hadn’t done before but jumped into the opportunity because of the story behind it.
So lovely! How has social media fueled your growth?
We are an online (only) boutique and find social media to play an extremely important role in allowing us to connect with our customer in a deeper, more personal level. Since we don’t have a physical shop, it serves as a platform for us to communicate with them and invite them into our “space” through behind the scenes stories. We share with them the good and the vulnerable parts of running a business. Quite honestly, we see them as part of our tribe and not just customers.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Working closely with each customer in such a personal level to craft their children’s silhouettes. They often share stories of what these products mean to them. Last week I received a hand written letter from a mom who said the necklace we crafted for her remind her of the reasons she needs to keeps on going on her fight against cancer (her necklace has 3 silhouettes of her sweet children). Being in the receiving end of those stories brings me an immense joy – and some times (thank God, not often) a deep sadness (when we craft pieces to commemorate an angel baby).
As a mompreneur, how do you handle the toggle between home and family?
Being a mom has been the best thing that could have happened to me. Not only because I started this business from a need to do something creative in my life but also because it has helped me stay organized and prioritize my time. I’ve always said “I am a mom first and an entrepreneur second”. As my boys grow older and become more independent, I can shift some of my attention to the business. I am blessed with a hard working team who believes in our mission and cares deeply for our customers. When asked how I do it all I simply say “I don’t do it all” I choose carefully what and how much I can handle on a daily basis and rely on our team to help us accomplish the rest.