New stationery store celebrates the art of paper
The act of handwriting and mailing a letter seems to be a lost art these days. For most Americans in the digital age, it’s not a common occurrence.
College of Charleston (CofC) alum Casey Berry hopes to keep that art alive with the Aug. 12 opening of her new stationery and craft store downtown on Spring Street, The Paper Canopy. Berry said she hopes to bring to Charleston something that had been missing — and create new excitement around an old-fashioned tradition.
“I moved [in 2021] from Colorado back to the South to open The Paper Canopy,” Berry said. “I love Charleston, and when I started poking around, I realized there’s no awesome paper store.”Berry said the grand opening party this month was a success.
“We were blown away with the immense support from the Charleston community and the excitement for our new shop. I am so grateful to be in such a creative and enthusiastic community,” she said.
The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Berry also has plans to hold workshops during which attendees can learn skills from local artists and crafters.
Before the brick-and-mortar store, Berry operated an online retail space and vended at pop-up markets in the Charleston area where she met other local makers and received feedback on what she was carrying. This feedback helped her curate the shop’s stock toward the interests of the local creative community.
The Paper Canopy shoppers will find stationery basics and more niche items, such as wax seals, which Berry said were very popular during pop-ups. So much so that she decided to create a wax seal bar in the shop for people to build their own seals in a variety of colors.
Even the basics are elevated, from marbled papers made by Bangladeshi women and a curated selection of fountain pens to a wall of cards from all over the world and journals made with recycled materials. The shop also boasts crafting kits for all ages and work by local artists.
Berry’s love for paper products began when she studied abroad in Italy as an art history major in 2009 and learned bookbinding and papermaking.
“When I was in Italy, I was like, ‘OK, I’m so into this tradition of paper,’ and I was just exposed to so much, and it let me dip my toe in and say, ‘Maybe I can be an artist,’ which feels like such a scary thing for a lot of people to say.”
At CofC, Berry originally wanted to study studio art, but “felt too insecure and not good enough” to pursue the degree.
“I talked to so many people who say, ‘I’d like to try, but I don’t feel creative,’ and I [really] resonate with that conversation with yourself. Now I can say I’m an artist. I’ve taken that on, and I feel really excited to help other people dabble and start to play, whether they call themselves an artist or not.”
She also hopes the store will cultivate inspiration for new artists as well as experienced artists, writers and crafters alike.
“I would love for people to walk in and feel inspired to write, paint, create, whatever they do … and see things that you haven’t seen before or learn things because there’s so many cultural traditions.”
The shop encourages letter writing, crafting and putting words on paper — a welcome contrast to the constant communication we are used to in the digital age.
“Almost everything in [the shop] is to help you slow down, help you connect with your hands. … I love going out and sketching a new place I’m in.”
The little things ground Berry to the present, like a good fountain pen, a present wrapped in craft paper with hand-dyed silk ribbon or a suncatcher window sticker.
She recounts the experience of a friend who needed a new beginning and wrote a plan longhand with a fountain pen.
“There was something about the fresh start and intentionality. It just helps me get started to make changes, and I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes you just need the right tool.”
Behind everything in The Paper Canopy is Berry’s hope to live her “most colorful life” and share the beauty of that with others.
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