Year of the Woman Entrepreneur: Elizabeth Rees
As our focus on woman entrepreneurs continues, we’re pleased to introduce Elizabeth Rees, Founder of Chasing Paper, as our featured November businesswoman.
Full name: Elizabeth Rees
Founder of: Chasing Paper
HQ location: New York City (paper manufactured in Milwaukee, WI – Rees’ hometown)
“Everyone, when they are young, knows what their Personal Legend is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their Personal Legend. This force appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your Personal Legend. It prepares your spirit and your will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.” Paulo Coelho – The Alchemist
In starting Chasing Paper, I drew from my own experience. I have moved a lot in the past 10 years and each time I would get the keys to a new place I would always be excited to decorate and make the space my own. Wallpaper is an extraordinary way to transform an environment, but who wants that commitment? Not me, that’s for sure. From the basic to bespoke print, it was important to for me to create a product that was accessible and easy. I believe that design should be for everyone.
To me, design is fluid and transformative. Chasing Paper embodies just that. High design meets no-commitment, no-hassle, change-your-mind-as-many-times-as-you-want-to. Whether you are subletting for the summer, changing your teenage daughter’s room with every mood or just been staring at that white wall one week too long, with Chasing Paper transformation is just around the corner.
What made you what you are?
I grew up in the Midwest with a big warm family, which is truly the essence of who I am as a founder and also a woman. From a young age, I felt a deep and powerful pull to go out into the world and see things for myself. I have been to 36 countries and plan to continue adding to that list every year I am able. I believe that travel has given me a confidence and perspective that makes Chasing Paper what it is.
Advice you would give to other entrepreneurs?
What a great question! I think I’d challenge other entrepreneurs to ask themselves “how can I do it better?” This concept was extremely important when I was creating Chasing Paper as it helped me to concentrate on developing a product that would heighten the customer experience, and allow them to have some fun along the way. Being passionate about what you do is obviously a close second.
Entrepreneur you most admire and why?
This is hard, as I have so many people I look up to. I am lucky to be in New York where so many things are happening and being born. I guess if I had to choose one it would be Katia Beauchamp of Birchbox. I was introduced to Katia a few years ago, and since then Birchbox’has become one of the iconic NYC start-up success stories. What is most striking is even with the massive growth she is still the same person – grounded, smart and kind. She has an incredible team and I also think that speaks volumes.
Most embarrassing moment?
Do I have to choose just one? I went on a date a few years ago, where I literally walked inside, met my date, and promptly hit the floor. As in completely fainted. When I came to I was so confused as to why I was looking up at a busboy and my date. Being the gentleman that he was, he sat me down on the steps of a nearby brownstone and ran to get some essential liquids – every flavor of Gatorade you can imagine and a Sprite. We are still friends and laugh about the worst first date story, ever.
Favorite thing about your office?
My work with Chasing Paper takes me all over. In one week, I can be on a plane, on the manufacturing floor in Milwaukee, running around Brooklyn for a photo shoot or catching up on emails from my West Village apartment. I also belong to a fantastic work space in the city that has been wonderful. It’s inspiring to work alongside peers in almost every career discipline you can imagine. It doesn’t hurt that the space has gorgeous light and free coffee.
Anything else you would like to share?
Chasing Paper works with talented designers and illustrators all over the country to create unique prints for all rooms of the home! We’re also begging to embark on collaborations with some home design retailers! All panels are printed on a high quality peel-and–stick fabric that measures 2 feet by 4 feet – making it easy to remove and install.