Pepa Stationery is more than just a stationery shop. From customer-led designs to gift wrapping, we find out how Hannah Hutchinson is transforming the store
Stationery business Pepa Stationery is helmed by Hannah Hutchinson, a designer and maker with a passion for paper and big dreams for how paper goods can enrich and improve our everyday lives.
What is your work and study background?
I’m from Christchurch and studied textile design at Massey University. After finishing my Master’s, I stayed on in Wellington for a year or so before heading over to China to teach design at a university. I moved back to Christchurch in May 2017, which is when I met Ami Muir (who initially owned the store) and started working with Pepa. Ami offered me the incredible opportunity late last year to purchase Pepa and continue the magic!
What do you love about stationery and paper goods?
As a designer and maker, I adore beautifully made, tactile goods and dynamic uses of colour, so stationery is an amazing outlet for exploring that sweet spot where aesthetics and functionality meet.
How did you find your beautiful shop space?
We were really lucky with the timing – Pepa started just as retail spaces in the Arts Centre became available. The Arts Centre shares our passion for creating a space that celebrates nostalgia while also looking to the future in terms of creativity and community engagement.
What are the hardest things about running a small business? And what are the best things?
The hardest thing for me is definitely finding the right balance between work and life. The best thing is feeling like I am exactly where I am meant to be and doing what I am meant to be doing. Pepa feels like the perfect culmination of my personality and work and life experience. A big part of this is due to the extended community at the Arts Centre and our amazing customers who support Pepa and allow it to exist. I also love that I am surrounded by amazing people who truly believe in Pepa, such as my husband and business partner, Ian, our super-supportive families and friends, and our wonderful staff member, Josh.
I love that stationery allows us to connect with others but is also ...such an important tool to help us organise our daily lives
What role does stationery play in your life?
I grew up with my Nana Mary who was a huge letter writer, and it was always such a treat to get a letter from her. I must admit I have always been more of a maker and illustrator, but I have become much more of a letter writer over the last couple of years! I love that stationery allows us to connect with others but is also such an important tool to help us organise our daily lives.
What do you think it can bring into the lives of others in a world where digital communication is so dominant?
Sitting down with pen and paper and carefully considering each word is becoming less common as the world speeds up. It’s a craft so many of us love but we’re not finding the time for it. Words let us dream and escape, and writing offers us mindful moments in our very busy world – it is so good to take time for ourselves in this way. Pepa is all about inspiring people to write, reminding them how good it feels and giving them a place to do it.
Who are your favourite local makers and creatives?
I am really loving The Nifty Markets, a monthly market here in Christchurch which showcases an array of local creatives. Rekindle is also a local organisation I have long admired and now have the pleasure of sharing a building with; they make beautiful goods but their focus and true talent is sharing their skills and knowledge with the community through craft workshops.
What are your favourite stationery brands?
Some of my favourites at the moment are Craft Design Technology from Japan and People I’ve Loved from the US. Closer to home I love Frank Stationery, Indigo Eleven and Hydrangea Ranger. I think it is super-important to stock Kiwi brands and support small businesses.
What’s coming up for Pepa Stationery?
We have some exciting new brands joining us, one of these being Nicola Rowlands, a UK-based illustrator. We aim to develop our own line of stationery in conjunction with our customers, and explore what steps Pepa can take to be a more sustainable brand. We will also be working really hard on refining our ‘Parcel to Post’ service – a gift-wrapping and postal or courier service, complete with a dedicated table for our customers to write at. Lastly, I hope to host more events in this beautiful space!
Words by: Sally Conor. Photography by: Sarah Rowlands.