Raechelle McGowan has been working for the past four years to jumpstart her career in wedding planning and creating custom stationery pieces. What started out in 2012 as a one-time gig making her friend’s wedding invitations has blossomed into a business of its own.
The business, appropriately named Raechelle Marie Paperie now has its own website as well as a shop on Etsy which allows Raechelle to sell her work to clients both nationally as well as internationally.
Raechelle began her college career in 2007 at SUNY Ulster, where she received her Associate’s Degree in graphic design. After a few years “in limbo,” spending time both at home in New Paltz and studying abroad in Ireland, she realized she wanted to continue her schooling, so as to delve deeper into her passion. She began as an undergraduate student at Marist in the fall of 2013 and, now 27 years old, was issued her diploma this past January.
Having been raised by a single mom of three, Raechelle understands the kind of work ethic it takes to be successful. “My mom taught all three of us that if we want to get anywhere in life, we have to do it ourselves...we have to work very hard at it. No cutting corners.”
Her mother’s impact greatly shaped her ability growing up to set a goal and run with it, but she didn’t realize her passion for her work until right before she began at Marist.
“I got the opportunity [in 2012] to design invitations for a friend of mine who was getting married,” she explains. “That’s when I said, ‘that’s it. That’s what I want to do.’”
This realization came at a bit of an off time for Raechelle, as she was about to start her classes at Marist. She explains that the business was very small at that point because of this. “Trying to balance school and trying to grow the business was a really hard thing for me to do, so I kind of kept it at bay.”
Raechelle admits that early on, she didn’t put as much effort as she could have into Raechelle Marie Paperie due to the juggling act between work and school. During her time at Marist, though, she prides herself on the fact that she never just took care of a client and forgot about them. She produced her best work for the clients she had, but made sure to take a step back and pay careful attention to her schoolwork when necessary.
“While in school, client-wise I would do custom invitations, so I would completely start from scratch and design something for whatever they envisioned,” she explains. “I usually took on 5-10 clients per year because I work for each client for up to eight months. It was a lot.”
Since graduating in January, Raechelle has thrown herself full-force into Raechelle Marie Paperie, as the Etsy shop opened at the end of December 2016. Her current goals are to market more and to reach people outside of the local area, which she is making possible by expanding her brand.
“Right now, everything I do is in my [in-home] studio-printing, assemblage—I do it all.”
She explains, though, that she would like to totally outsource printing so that the breadth of what she can accomplish is wider. When this dream becomes a reality, Raechelle will hire people to work for her and eventually would like to see her stationery line being sold at boutiques in the area. “I’m not in that position currently, but I’ll get there,” she says, realizing that these are big dreams. She is confident, however, that she will see them come to fruition with the hard work and dedication she learned from her mother and other family members.
Raechelle, who did not take any formal business classes in college, says that she is in the process of learning the business side of things through her family. “I have a lot of family members who own businesses so I’ve been very lucky to have their advice and guidance on that. It’s completely confusing- bookkeeping, keeping track of expenses, profits, sales, all of that. I kind of threw myself into and have been teaching myself a lot of that,” she explains. Despite the hardships she may face, Raechelle knows that she is on the right track to be successful for herself, and for Raechelle Marie Paperie. She geared her studies at Marist toward the business, in hopes that the classes she took would allow her to further the its growth early on.
“It’s never too early to start thinking about what you want to do. You don’t need to wait until graduation to start” she says. “Especially those who are really into entrepreneurship, you really need to do your research because you’re never going to stop learning.”