Designer Profiles Features

July 11, 2023 • Sarah Schwartz
The age of independents: Q&A with Up With Paper and UWP Luxe

Up With Paper

The dynamic Open Sesame! range is just one element within a larger, carefully engineered evolution.

Change is always challenging, but for Monika Brandrup and Frank Masek, it also represented an opportunity on several levels.

So when George White, longtime president of Up With Paper and UWP Luxe, became CEO of CM Paula, the privately held company that owns both, Monika Brandrup, vice president and creative director, and Frank Masek, vice president of sales and operations, jointly assumed full leadership of Up With Paper and UWP Luxe as of Jan. 1, 2022.

The next chapter for both brands came into clearer focus with the release of the Open Sesame! collection from Up With Paper earlier this year. While the 16 cards comprising it feature the signature pop-up elements its audience expects, the release also cleverly integrates a focus on the independent retailers — as well as our planet.

Stationery Trends interviewed Masek and Brandrup to learn more.

ST: Please share details of the Open Sesame! range regarding design and presentation. What elements will make it stand out at retail, and how does it represent the evolution of Up With Paper?

FM: Open Sesame! is our newest collection of one-of-a-kind clever cards filled with thoughtful design twists. All cards have elements to discover, from pull tabs that animate artwork, unusual shadowbox formats, fun spinning wheels, die-cut reveal windows — and occasional pop-ups, of course! Sixteen cards come with samples and can be sold in-line or in our 12-pocket display. The collection was designed by in-house designer Riley Samels and was inspired by our popular UWP Luxe miniature card line, Dear Alchemy.

Open Sesame! selections from Up With Paper are literally packed with surprises, making for a memorable experience throughout the selection, writing and receiving process. Photos courtesy of Up With Paper.
Open Sesame! selections from Up With Paper are literally packed with surprises, making for a memorable experience throughout the selection, writing and receiving process. Photos courtesy of Up With Paper.

ST: Equally important to its design elements, with Open Sesame!, Up With Paper is expressing a new commitment to the independent retailer. Can you explain your distinctive approach to accommodating them while simultaneously working with larger accounts?

MB: We are committed to putting our independent retailers first, who may now purchase the newest, most trend-forward pop-up card releases, exclusive for one year, for select seasonal and everyday cards. This gives our smaller retailers a selling advantage that sets them apart from the programs found in larger accounts.

ST: There has been so much talk within the greeting card community about approaches to product and packaging. Can you review those you are taking?

FM: We are committed to minimizing our global impact. Almost all our products are now printed on FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) paper and we are phasing out all plastic packaging, replacing it with branded FSC paper packaging, too.

ST: While they help build a strong retail assortment, catalogs often produce a lot of paper waste as they enlarge our collective carbon footprint. What steps are you taking to mitigate this?

MB: Informational postcards and email reminders instead of large supplemental catalog mailings remind retailers exactly when to order their next cards while we all reduce our carbon footprint. We are leveraging QR code technology to provide digital links to our websites, as well, to those customers who do not want to receive paper catalogs.

ST: How do your more successful independent retailers promote your product?

FM: Key to our success with our independent retailers is the ability to showcase our products in their open format. They can do so by leveraging one of our many counter or floor displays that come with free samples. Retailers can access our library of product and lifestyle imagery for immediate website and social media needs to easily sell our cards online in addition to in their stores.

ST: Is there anything else you would like to share with Stationery Trends readers?

MB: We are excited to present new opportunities for our retailers within our 4 Seasons corrugated display programs. They will now have three tailored offers to choose from. We are excited for all of the potential that Up With Paper and UWP Luxe hold as we go through strategic growth and creative changes under a new leadership team.

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