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Monday 15 March 2021

Par Avion Paper and Pen Palling

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been a bit quiet on my usual Instagram of late. Others may have read my previous post on gifting during a pandemic and noticed something too…Well today I’m going to go into full depth about my latest passion project- Par Avion Paper

For those of you that don’t know, I’ve been an avid letter writer for the past two and a half years, writing to my pen pal Rachel who lives in Malta! Before that I had been known to write to my both my nanny’s, especially when I lived abroad and even as young as 8 I was writing to my friends in Essex when I’d moved up to Cambridgeshire. Letter writing has always been on and off throughout my life and it’s something I really enjoy and since the pandemic I’ve taken on a few more pen pals so I’m now writing on a weekly basis.

The only thing I wasn’t mad on? The writing paper! I’ve found designs I like very few and far between, either being aimed at children or just in general being very twee designs. Paperchase has produced some paper I’ve enjoyed over the years and the awesome OxMailStudios also does some fabulous designs but I wanted more! I took to my laptop and started playing around designing me own and before I knew it, I’d produced over ten designs from my head. I showed them to my husband and his first reaction was “why don’t you sell these?” I sat on this idea for a little while. Would anyone really want to buy my paper designs? Finally I thought sod it, I can put them out there and if people enjoy them that’s great but if not? Well I’ve got a bunch of designs that I enjoy and will definitely use. Nothing ventured, nothing gained and all that! 

The next step was setting up a shop and for me, Etsy was a no brainer. Yes they do take fees for listing but they also sort out your postage and I feel it’s a website that fits well with shopping small and supporting small creatives. Initially I started selling digital downloads of the papers, thinking this would be an easy and manageable idea for me but I soon realised I was yearning to actually make the papers come to life and so I began printing. That’s when the paper really took off and I haven’t really looked back since! 

Each and every time I get an order my heart soars with happiness. I literally do a happy little dance each time too and my most favourite thing is packaging up the orders. I may (ok always) add in some little extras as a surprise because who doesn’t love surprises!? It’s also lovely too see behind the scenes that people buy as gifts to their loved ones. 

So why letter write anyway? There are so many advantages to writing letters. You can re-read a letter but you can’t re-read a phone call! There’s also something quite special about receiving happy mail in the post and the anticipation of finding out the next instalment of your friend of family member’s life, dilemmas or news. Text messages are so instant too whereas letters take time and are thought through. Every word counts. It’s also a great way to connect with new people! There’s lots of Facebook groups to meet fellow pen pals and hashtags on Instagram such as #pepalswanted. I have 3 pen pals who live overseas and another 3 up and down the country and it’s interesting to read how other people live and have a completely different lifestyle to me. A lot of these people I’d never meet in real life and it’s a great privilege that they take the time out to write to me and also read my letters too. 

I’ve also found letters are a great way to communicate with elderly relatives; in particularly for me my Nan. She has Alzheimer’s and never remembers having a phone call. She also doesn’t live nearby so I can’t pop and see her as and when I want, especially with Covid too. I’ve found the letters have helped my Nan to remember things and she can re-read them as much as she likes. She never replies and I never expect her to but I like to think it’s a nice little surprise through her door every couple of weeks.

Another thing to consider is there’s also mental health benefits to letter writing. That’s right! Letter writing is good for you!! Studies have shown that it increases your resilience, reduces stress and can improve your mood. I personally find it therapeutic too. Sitting and putting pen to paper in a quiet environment is so relaxing and mindful as well as being a great escape from technology and glaring screens. It’s also a great fuel for my creativity, so much so I’ve gone on to design further papers and have some more ideas in the pipeline… 

So those are just a few things I’ve discovered from letter writing and through creating Par Avion Paper I’ve discovered so many wonderful and likeminded people, particularly on Instagram. The pen palling community is welcoming, kind and full of positivity! If you’re looking for a new hobby and/or want some beautiful paper designed by yours truly, definitely take a look at my Etsy store.

Are you into letter writing?

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