Alumni Spotlight: Tonya Kauffman of Toluka Paper
We're kicking off November with another Stationery Academy Spotlight! This time we're checking in with Tonya Kauffman of Toluka Paper. How fun it is to catch up with our alum and see what they've been up to since attending a session of Stationery Academy!
Where are you now? What has your journey since Stationery Academy looked like?
Before attending SA my designs were created willynilly and ‘on demand’ based on ideas that just came to me or were requested by my clients. Sadly, this even included a pig wearing a lei! I knew I had a passion for designing, but I lacked consistency, goals and that ‘thing’ that makes me unique. SA helped me realize this was because I had yet to realize my core, my mission, my WHY. I learned to dig deeper and design what I want and what inspires me. It took lots of thought, two amazing trips to SA and some time off, but (fingers crossed) I think I finally figured it out! My new designs and product offerings have a touch of throwback and a wholelotta me.
What has been the highlight of your year? Releasing a new collection of invitations, notepads and ‘oldschool’ paper games has definitely been the highlight of my year. The response so far has been so positive! It is fun to hear clients say, “I remember that!” and “I used to LOVE those!” I know firsthand the ‘spark’ that ignites in your heart and I am thrilled when I am able to bring about that feeling in others.
Do you have a favorite memory from Stationery Academy?
Can I have two? The first day, for me, was the best. My degree is in business so it is often tough for me to feel like a professional when it comes to design. For both events I entered feeling intimidated in a room with 20+ wonderful designers, but was pleasantly surprised when I quickly felt the judgement wall break down! It doesn’t take long to realize we are all there for the same reason and we ALL have things we are insecure about. Having those things in common creates a bond and an overall sense of trust that is NOT easily found. I still talk to many of these girls daily. I have their back and they have mine.
Second Is there a better feeling than eating every meal surrounded by glitter, fabulous swag, pretty pens and placecards? No. There’s not!
How has Stationery Academy continued to shape your path?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a SA dorm that I can live in yearround and go to class every day wouldn’t that be wonderful? Since that isn’t possible, the next best thing has been the SA Facebook forum. The sense of community from the ‘in person’ experience is extended there and has continues to challenge me to grow, better and solidify my business. Knowing I can have any question answered from someone who has beentheredonethat is priceless. I have asked questions and vented to the only peeps who seem to understand what I am going through. It has definitely turned my day around more times than I can count and encourages me to keep on chugging.
What's in your future?
I am soo excited for the future of Toluka Paper! Realizing my mission and what really revs my design engine has opened a new door for me with lots of potential and possibilities. The past year was spent sketching, jotting ideas, learning and observing and I am eager to continue to put all of that into motion. The only problem is prioritizing what will come next and having enough hours in the day to develop them! Next up is continuing to purge some older designs from the shop and replacing them with new designs that will hopefully continue to tell my story and reflect my personal style.