Omaha Woman’s ‘Dream Business’ Earns Chamber of Commerce Honor 2/1/17 01/31/17 11:38:31 PM
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Pulp Paperie + Gifts is one of the many creative new businesses in the Blackstone District.
‘I never considered myself an entrepreneur’
Omaha Woman’s ‘Dream Business’
Earns Chamber of Commerce Honor
By Dan McCann
The Daily Record
After moving to Omaha in 2012, Erin Luong struggled. One dead end after another.
“I went through a rough patch in my life where nothing was working,” she recalled.
But, instead of withering, the single mother of two boys flipped the page – and created her own opportunity.
Erin Luong is the owner of a business whose “main focus is providing stylish and modern products that are made in the USA using sustainable methods.”
“I made the decision to commit all my time and energy into building my dream business. One that would improve the local economy and community with a focus on sustainable goods and social giving,” she said. “I sat down with a cheap $.29 spiral notebook that day and that’s how Pulp’s story began.”
Pulp Paperie + Gifts, the Greater Omaha Chamber’s Small Business of the Month for February, will celebrate its second anniversary in May. Located in midtown Omaha’s burgeoning Blackstone District, Luong’s boutique boasts a curated selection of locally created stationery, ink and artisan greeting cards – and a range of gifts, jewelry and décor. The ambitious “why” behind the store ripples well beyond its 1,700 square feet at 3904 Farnam Street.
“We strive to enrich human connections, to keep in touch with the important people in our lives and to celebrate our own well-deserved achievements,” Luong said. “We combine modern design with timeless quality to bring people joy.”
Pulp’s focus is on sustainable products made in the USA.
“We believe in strengthening our local economy by supporting other local makers and artisans,” Luong said. “We provide space and staff for 20-25 local artisans to sell their goods seven-days-a-week, which enables them to focus on their craft rather than all the day-to-day details of running a brick and mortar storefront. There’s no set up, tear down or committed hours at a booth.”
Luong said she finds great reward in “seeing and hearing the reaction of our customers to our products, to our space” and to “finding new vendors to partner with to provide unique, quality products for our patrons.” There is also the thrill of hosting a wide variety of community outreach events: art openings, pop-up shops, classes and workshops.
“I think we all have the ability to make a positive impact on the people we meet, our neighborhoods, even people who may only be in our lives for 10 minutes. I want to make sure that time has the greatest amount of impact. Art has that ability, and we’re proud to provide gallery space and art openings for painters and other artists. We opened our workshop area last November and host a variety of classes – from calligraphy to paper arts to herbal medicine – hosted by local makers and artisans,” Luong explained.
She continued, “There are truly no limits with our business and so many fun ideas with this amazing community.”
Describing Pulp as a “micro-business,” Luong oversees a staff of 2-3, including herself.
“It makes for some long hours but enables us to be highly responsive to our customers. I have found some wonderful mentors along the way and now have been able to give back by becoming a mentor for other aspiring business owners and makers.”
That, in and of itself, is a clear sign of just how far Luong has come. With degrees in journalism and communications, she said she never imagined she would become an entrepreneur prior to opening Pulp.
“Much of my career has been in the creative field,” she said. “I had worked for a variety of companies, from corporations to micro-businesses, continually gaining knowledge, but never being satisfied. I was always thinking outside of my designated job duties, striving to do my work quickly and skillfully, but there was no outlet for the ‘What next…’ ‘How can we…’ What if we try…’
The “What next…” for Pulp is growth. The boutique recently expanded its offerings to include a wide array of customizable products – from invitations, social announcements, stationery and more – which are viewable at Pulpboutiqueomaha.printswell.com.
“This way, we’re able to provide businesses and individuals access to the products they need while maintaining the local aspect,” Luong said.
Pulp has also launched its online Gift Box site, www.pulpgiftbox.com, available as a one-to three-month subscription service shipped anywhere in the U.S. or available for Curbside Concierge locally.
Luong said the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month Award is about success – but even more so, it is about believing in yourself, overcoming adversity and persevering.
“To be recognized by the Greater Omaha Chamber is an incredible honor. It makes all the hard work, long hours and self-doubt worth it,” she said.
Today, Pulp is a budding, local success story – started in a cheap $.29 notebook – that should serve as an inspiration to latent entrepreneurs everywhere.
United Republic Bank sponsors the Chamber’s Small Business of the Month award. To nominate a small business online, visit www.omahachamber.org. Nominees must be current Chamber members with 50 employees or less.