A cuppa & a Custard Cream with...RUTH of Paper Ren
1.       Who are you and where do you come from?!

Hello!  I'm Ruth and I'm the head behind Paper Ren. I'm originally from the U.K. but I have traveled and lived in a lot of places this past decade; from the Cornish coast to the tropics of Singapore, to the big smoke and treasured time spent in Ireland. The UK is definitely home, but I have had the pleasure to call many places home these last years.

2.       What do you do and why?

We are a curated showcase of beautiful children's books from around the world. We review and feature books, as well as shine the spotlight on illustrators and authors that we admire. Paper Ren (at present) is a labour of love, born out of lockdown and during the first year of our daughter's life. Our goal is to give authors and illustrators a platform to showcase their books and illustrations and we aim to focus on books that make the world a better place. We interview authors and illustrators to give a wholesome experience into the world of picture books. In a world of uncertainty, there is no better time to support local bookshops, independent publishers, upcoming authors, and budding illustrators. 

3.       What are the biggest challenges you've faced setting up your new business?

Since we are still young, the biggest challenges are yet to materialise. At present we exist online, but I think many more challenges will become apparent as we try to fulfill the goals and ambitions we have for Paper Ren and transition into something more tangible. 

4.       What have been your biggest HURRAH moments so far?

Actually making the decision to focus my energy on my passion was probably the biggest (and much needed) booster moment. I think when you channel energy in the right direction it is as if everything is aligned. I also find a huge sense of satisfaction and relief when this happens. 

5.       If you could give 3 pieces of advice to yourself when you started out, what would it be?

Since we are just starting out, I would love it if you could remind me of this question in 12 months! But hopefully, the advice I give myself will be something like...

1. Keep going because you are going to make this into something bigger than you ever imagined.
2. Perseverance is key and... 
3. Don't overthink this.

6.       What are your long-term hopes and aspirations?

We have big plans for Paper Ren. We have started out as an online platform but there are many avenues we wish to explore which will hopefully propel us into a long term business (no pressure!). 

7.       Which 3 books would you recommend for a long hour train journey (with no kids!)?

Since I have recently (well in the second half of 2019) become a mother I have been reading lots of inspiring, non-fiction parenting books. I find train journeys to be a perfect time for reflection and contemplation so although I know this is supposed to be a kid-free journey it would have to be...

  • The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) by Philippa Perry
The following two I found to be particularly inspiring, especially in terms of ways of living and aspirations for slowing down and appreciating the natural environment.
  • The Philosophy of Walking by Frédéric Gros
  • Feral by George Monbiot
Currently, I am also reading another parenting book, The Montessori Toddler by Simone Davies which so far I am really enjoying!

8.     What are the most common misconceptions you've found from having your own business?

Prior to my maternity leave, I was freelancing full time and often traveling for 2 week-long jobs each month in between remote work. It was in this time that a lot of misconceptions surrounding freelancing came to light. In particular, being your own boss is tough, especially when the third-trimester tiredness kicked in. It is hard to switch off from work when the boundaries are more fluid. I think setting some perimeters from the offset is super important. When I was young and starting out as a Designer a then-colleague and now friend told me, in so many words, that you should never stay late from day one as this will set expectations for your remaining time working for the company. It is true. Start as you mean to go on and it will work in your favour. I will try to carry these learnings forward as I realise my goals for Paper Ren.  

9.       You’re granted 1 wish (for you / your career) – what would it be?

That I can perfect the work/life balance conundrum. I have come from a background in the architectural design industry and know first hand what work/life balance is not. In jobs where I have not been able to achieve this for reasons beyond my influence, I have felt I have had to walk away, no matter how much I love the job! I love to work and I love to push myself to fulfill my potential, but quality of life is my priority. You don't leave this earth with your resume. 

10.      What’s your favourite biscuit?
My mum's homemade cookies - they are delicious but sinful, and full of chocolate which I love. A fun fact to end on...I eat at least 3 squares of dark chocolate every morning before breakfast and it's my absolute vice. 
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