Today we’re in hilly Bristol visiting rustic Papersmiths, a magazine and print shop that sells all things related to paper. Shop owner Sidonie Warren fills us in on the independent publishing scene in her home town, a city well-known for its love of homespun illustration and adventurous print media.
When and why did you set up Papersmiths?
I’d worked in retail during my time studying in Brighton and I loved it. I felt lucky to be there and realised that shop keeping was my dream job, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I’d also sourced and sold vintage clothes and my jewellery and illustrations at numerous markets over the years. I met Kyle Clarke in 2011 and we set up our design studio, Something Good. In 2013 we started Papersmiths.
The main reason we did it was simple, we’d been talking about a retail space for a while and both wanted to do something new. Secondly we were in the fortunate position of already being in a space with a shop front. And finally, Kyle hoards anything made of paper and I am a stationery addict, so the product choice was obvious!
How do you lay out the magazines around the shop and how did you decide on that set up?
We have an expansive magazine wall which holds the majority of our magazines. We designed the shelving so that the mags would be front facing and not overlapping each other. Each magazine has had so much effort put into it by the people creating them, that we want to show them off, like you would art. We also have big piles of our most popular titles dotted around the store.
Who are your customers?
They are passionate, friendly, intelligent, creative and wonderful people! I’ve actually made some very good friends in Bristol through meetings in the shop. I love being in there and having the chance to chat to people.
What’s your best-seller this month?
Do you have a favourite local magazine?
I’m a fan of them all… Lagom, Cereal, Lionheart, Boneshaker, Off Life, The Grain, Ernest. We’re lucky to have the Bristol Independent Publishers group in our city. The new issue of Another Escape is my favourite this quarter. The imagery takes me somewhere else, somewhere that I might not get the chance to visit, and the quality of the articles is super. To top it off the founders and really great people and they’re super helpful in making sure we have enough stock, even hand delivering when we run out. The publishing scene in Bristol is a friendly place!
What has the biggest challenge been?
Delegating. There’s been a lot of learning for me! Now I have help from our brilliant team of Papersmiths, Rachel, Brigitta, Emily and Emily and I can focus more time on growing the store.
What changes have you seen in the magazines since you opened?
There are more of them. New magazines are being released every week. I’ve noticed that existing titles are evolving to stay ahead of the game and I’d say it’s improving the quality across the industry which can only be a good thing for the readers.