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Meet Abigail McMurray of Yeiou Paper Objects in Arlington

Today we’d like to introduce you to Abigail McMurray.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Today, yeiou paper objects is a line of paper products designed and made in my studio in Arlington, MA. The business has evolved over the last four years, but the core vision is the same: exploring the way paper, an ordinary, everyday material, can do magical things. My designs focus on the structural, dimensional properties of paper. Whether I’m creating geometric gift boxes, cheerful paper garlands, custom marketing pieces for other local businesses, or architectural portraits, it all comes back to exploring the possibilities of paper.

Five years ago, all my work was digital. I designed websites and email marketing campaigns, my whole life existed in pixels. I reached a point where I needed to get back to back to the real world. I found myself folding origami boxes at my desk at work to decompress between meetings. I remembered my childhood, where I spent hours captivated by the possibilities of folding a piece of paper. I realized I needed to shift to making a physical product, something that still used my graphic design skills, but got me folding paper again.

Yeiou began with a line of paper craft kits, so that I could share my love for folding paper with everyone. I still make the colorful, cheerful geometric decorations, banners that say “yay!”, and little house-shaped gift boxes. I’ve also started exploring paper as sculpture, creating custom architectural portraits. These framed keepsakes commemorate new homes, family homes, important landmarks, and life milestones. Since sharing my love of paper is key, I also teach origami and paper crafting workshops at Albertine Press in Cambridge, MA.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has been a journey! I haven’t had any major bumps in my entrepreneurial road – my business, by design, has been relatively low risk from the start. I work out of my home, and I have at different times taken on freelance projects and found other ways to make sure I at least break even. The road has certainly not been straight, though! I’ve sunk time and money into products that don’t sell, and invested time and money in events, marketing materials, equipment, and trainings that didn’t have the impact I’d hoped. Each time, I have pivoted and tried again. I’ve tried a lot of things in my almost five years of business!

I think the thing that surprised me the most about starting this business is that, now that my coworkers are “me, myself, and I”, knowing myself and taking care of my mental health are the things that most impact my ability to do good work and do it well. I’ve learned so much about my strengths and weaknesses, what I do well and where I need help, and I’m still learning, every day!

Please tell us about Yeiou Paper Objects.
Yeiou paper objects is a line of paper craft kits, greeting cards, and custom paper goods. Over the years I’ve made a kit that lets you fold your own little paper barn that holds a paper cow, goat, and pig, I’ve created large paper goat cutouts for a local cheese shop, wedding invitations in custom die-cut shapes, little paper models of storage containers for a company that rents them out, paper neighborhoods modeled on my real life neighborhood, and lots of cards and banners that say “YAY”, among other things. I don’t shy away from a challenge that involves paper!

In the last few months I’ve started creating custom architectural portraits, these are framed pieces that re-create real buildings as paper sculptures. I’ve become obsessed with architecture, and will often stop on my walks around my Arlington neighborhood and just stare at a house to take in all the details!

My products are available online through my Etsy shop and my website. I also love participating in local art markets, so you’re likely to find me popping up at festivals around Somerville, Cambridge, and Arlington. I’ve also started teaching the occasional workshop at Albertine Press in Inman Square, Cambridge, where you can also find some of my products for sale.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I’m still coming to terms with how hard the business side of running a business is for me. If I could change something, it would be to go back to the beginning and figure out some of the big picture business processes, reporting, and organization things that I’ve either learned or been implementing here and there as I’ve been forced to. I love the idea of making data-driven decisions, but without the infrastructure to collect and make sense of the data, it’s hard to do that!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Sri Thumati

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