Greeting cards aren’t a focal point in Brett Borup’s role as an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at BYU. But cards are something Borup has engineered into a successful family business.
Brett and his family started the Paper Bandit Press, a greeting card company, two and a half years ago and were named finalists in the national craft section in the Martha Stewart American Made Contest. The contest focuses on rising entrepreneurs, artisans and small-business owners and their homemade, homegrown business ventures.
Kim Borup, Brett’s wife, said the recognition is a big deal for them.
“Turning out a quality product and receiving national recognition for our designs, and now being a finalist for Martha Stewart American Made has been amazing for a company so young,” Kim said.
The company prints all of its cards on mid-century leather press vintage machines similar to what Gutenberg used centuries ago. The printing process takes a great deal of time because of the complexity of the machines.
Each card is hand folded by the family. One printer requires human force in order to roll the mold onto the paper for the printing. Each color has to be printed individually on separate plates. The machines, which the family bought online, give a vintage feel to the cards and a more personal touch, according to Brett.
The paper business is a Borup family venture and initially began as a way for Brett’s daughter, Stephanie Ford, to continue designing greeting cards after she left the greeting card company she had been designing.
Kim, who received a masters degree in business from BYU, saw the venture as the opportunity to use the skills from her major.
“We love that we are able to use all our accumulated talents and skills to run this business; printing, photography, design, calligraphy, social media, marketing and other business applications,” Kim said.
Brett also joined in, bringing his engineering knowledge to help with the complex printing machines.
“I’ve always wanted to know an art and have that as my hobby,” Brett said. “I was excited to take the classes (printing) and figure it all out. Naturally it took several months, but it was all worth it.”
Stephanie creates most of the designs. From there they are sent to the family printing press where Brett either programs them or creates a plastic plate that is then rolled onto the paper, depending on which machine is needed. All cards are then hand folded and stuffed into envelopes upon completion.
“It’s as if we’re making old art with modern technology,” Brett said. “Younger people seem to appreciate that there is still some art involved and the great time it takes.”
Paper Bandit Press has printed more than 60,000 cards in its two years of operation. The cards are mostly sold in large stock to boutiques and paper shops all over the United States and in other countries such as Australia and England. Brett said the Borup family is proud of its original designs and witty humor, which often causes people to laugh out loud.
As an environmental engineer, Brett said he also prides himself on the fact that his greeting cards and entire company is environmentally friendly.
“We use 100 percent cotton paper, and other things with all renewable resources,” Brett said. “We use the box we receive stuff in to then ship cards to other people. The printing business can be really bad, so we try to change that and help the environment at the same time.”
The Borups said they also believe in building the community they live in.
“Twenty percent of any profit we make goes back to some organization we feel needs our help within the community,” Brett said. “We try to give back to the community.”
They said they think the Martha Stewart American Made Contest will draw more attention to their family’s business.
“We’re hoping for notoriety more then anything,” Brett said. “The contest is the perfect way to get our name out.”