Designing a Creative Family Business with Katherine Paige Design
An Interview with Barbara Miller – Etsy “Star Seller” of Katherine Paige Design
Barbara Miller is the solo entrepreneur and mother who started “Katherine Paige Design” out of her home. You can see her designer mugs, water bottles, and ornaments carried by many in Bristol County. Miller is in the top 1% of Etsy sellers, with 5-star reviews from over 1,275 customers. She has sold over 7,000 paper and party supplies since 2008.
“I have been creative for as long as I can remember,”says Miller.
In the 90s, her hobby was creating fabric photo album covers and giving them to friends. Miller made a profit at craft fairs, and her first business was born. The albums were so popular that “Made To Order” became a solid business. Since then, Miller pivoted to rubber-stamped scrapbooks, cards, and invitations. The shop then transitioned to selling custom paper goods. The reputation for Miller’s custom-made craftwork grew organically.
When her daughter was born in 2008, she pivoted to Etsy and started selling online. She named the shop “Katherine Paige Design” and sold paper and party supplies. She is an official Etsy “star seller,” noted for her excellent customer service. Her detailed item listings provide customers with exact product dimensions, colors, and paper types. Boutique bakeries and event planners source high-quality party supplies from her. Customers rave about her detailed attention to producing a high-quality finished product. She says, “I love talking to people and get many custom requests.”
The Self-Educated Maker
“I listened to my audience when they requested a custom print. I couldn’t find any good prints,” said Miller. She learned digital layout and created a new design. That iconic giraffe print became a triumph. Her shop took off during the cupcake wrapper craze of 2013.
Miller’s technical prowess grew as her shop blossomed. “They know me well at Staples,” says Miller, where she goes to print out her orders a few days a week. Then she bought a Cricut for vinyl stenciling. She lately added sublimation printing, which allows her designs to print directly onto fabrics, plastic, and ceramics products.
Community Inspiration and Outreach
Running a home business enabled Miller to be active in the community. The flexibility allowed her to be an active volunteer during her daughter’s K-8 years. In the past, she taught scrapbooking and Etsy seminars for the community. Miller recently helped organize Berkley Residents in Support of Education to provide awareness and accurate information to the community regarding an override vote to fund the Somerset Berkley Regional High School. Her presence in craft fairs and school events has helped her acquire devoted fans.
While classic party items are solid sale items, Miller also designs items with unique whimsical humor. Her designs cater to local friends and customers from her interactions with townspeople. There are mugs, tumblers, and ornaments reflecting the ironic realities of modern life. Over the years, her customers express their anxieties about being a teacher, parent, or family member. Although these self-less jobs are rewarding, there is an appreciation that a happy life does not have to be bland and branded. Her clients are witty and can appreciate the humor and irony of life. The business gives back to the community by helping express and acknowledges that frustrations are normal and healthy. “People come in to find an edgy sentiment that resonates. It makes them laugh.”
“It’s important to laugh every day,”says Miller.
Growing Into a Family Business
“Crossing things off my to-do list makes me feel good. I know I can’t work on my business every day. There’s not enough time, so I schedule my time and batch tasks together.” Thus, she can do laundry while fulfilling her orders. Her daughter can observe Miller’s work ethic, customer support, and efficiency in action. “It’s great for my daughter to see that I’m growing my skills. I never in a million years would have thought that digital graphics would be something that I make a living at.”
“Who is Katherine Paige?” I finally asked. Miller named the shop after her daughter, Katie, when she was born. Both are now 15. The shop allows Miller to teach her passion for creativity and entrepreneurship to her daughter. When her daughter took sewing classes, she started her own business of selling lanyards, bookmarks, and chapstick holders that she sewed herself. Katie often set up her table side by side with her mom at craft fairs. As Katie develops her drawing and sketching skills. Miller is considering hiring her as a designer. The plan is that Katie will one day take over the shop she is named after. Miller and her daughter are taking a digital design class together.
Future Forward at KPD Designs
For the upcoming year, Katherine Paige Design is planning to expand to new areas around the Bristol County area. Miller and her daughter plan to collaborate on unique digital designs in the future. You can follow their journey on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. In the Bristol area, Miller’s products are at TownCrafters in Walpole and Three Gen Love in Westport. Skinny tumblers are the craze this year, you can pick one up at SoAm Market. She also plans to be at local crafts fairs in the Bristol area. And if you preferl staying home, you can shop online at KatherinePaigeDesign.