Class Note: Hot Off the Press

Brett and kimKim Borup knows a good investment when she sees one.

The skills that the 1992 Marriott School business grad earned during years of experience in the field are currently bearing fruit in Paper Bandit Press, the letterpress printing company that Kim began with her husband, Brett, more than two years ago.

“I’ve used my degree wherever I had a business,” she says. “I always worked in business in some way.” Her background includes marketing, business teaching—and now, printing.

From their renovated basement studio, the couple develops, prints, packages, markets, and sells unique and, as they say, “snarky,” handmade letterpress cards for all occasions. They sell the cards individually on their website and wholesale to retailers across the world. Theirs is an underdog story of success; starting with a mere thirteen cards, Borup and her husband have expanded their business and beat out large greeting card companies in national competitions. In the short time they’ve been doing business, their cards have earned two LOUIE Awards from the Greeting Card Association, which recognize outstanding cards, invitations, and announcements marketed in the United States. Paper Bandit Press was also a finalist in the 2015 Martha Stewart American Made competition.

“It just seemed like it all worked out—that this is what we were supposed to do,” Borup says. “We didn’t want to do anything that we couldn’t walk away from. We didn’t want to go into debt at all. So that was our main goal, and we’ve been able to do that.”

Borup handles the day-to-day business operations of the company, including managing the books, finding reps to sell their products, and shipping out orders.

“We have customers all over the world,” Borup says. “To keep track of them all, and market to them, is a challenge, and we do it all ourselves.”

But the couple isn’t left without help. Paper Bandit Press is a family affair and as such, has expanded to include the work of different members of the Borup family, including daughters who help with design and photography, and even grandchildren who suggest card ideas. Utilizing their collective talents, the Paper Bandit Press team has overcome many of the challenges of working in a niche market.

“It’s been a lot of learning. There are so many little details. You just don’t think about all that when you start,” Borup says.

The Borups enjoy working with family and other artists on collaborative projects, but also work to help the community; a full 20 percent of profits made through Paper Bandit Press are donated to various charities and organizations.

“One of our goals of having the business, too, is to give back,” Borup says. “We’re not here to try to take over the world or anything, but we want to be really good at what we do.”