We had the good fortune of connecting with Margaret Haas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Margaret, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
It’s true what is said about small business owners- we are always working. Our small business is always on our mind. I know that next week will look a little different than last week, and I’ve learned to be ok with that. Being flexible is the most important aspect of work/life balance as a small business owner. For example, there are periods of time where we are really busy. Usually the holidays are when small shops make most of their income. What is earned during the 4th quarter is what carries us through to the season of retail from the start of the new year on to spring, which is notoriously slow. I am not sure how the holiday season is going to look this year due to COVID. Our retail space is tiny and social distancing is not even possible so I’ve made the decision to not offer in person shopping during the pandemic in an effort to keep people safe. My work/life balance has had to change over the years, as my business has evolved. When the business started, it was 90% custom stationery and invitations, clients would come to me for my hand lettering. I worked out of my studio apartment in Koreatown. I would meet clients in coffee shops or their offices and would spend so much time in LA traffic. I felt like I was spending too much time in my car and not enough time on actual work. Then when I did have time to actually work, there wasn’t any more space. When every flat surface was covered with current projects and there was no place to sit and eat, I knew I had outgrown that spot. I got a small office by Macarthur Park, it was great to have a dedicated office for Paper Pastries. My personal relationships are the most important thing to me. Since I was always working on the business, and always wanted to be in the new space, friends and family would come down to hang out and they were always put to work 😉 They were always rewarded with a trip to Langer’s deli, which was a block away, or happy hour and pizza. After a few years, I got married and moved to Oceanside. Since I wasn’t familiar with the area, I decided to work from home again. It was then that I moved away from custom stationery a bit since I wasn’t able to find clients in my new area. I pivoted and focused on starting a wholesale line of ready made stationery- cards, pencil sets and rubber stamps. I have always loved rubber stamps and since I wasn’t doing many custom invitations I wanted to offer hand lettering services in a different way. I started offering custom return address stamps with my hand lettering and my business exploded. Paper Pastries was featured in several magazines and I was flooded with online orders which was a relatively new thing to me. This success came with new obstacles- learning how to package items to safely mail, how to make packages look cute, how to quickly turn orders around, etc. Since I was home all the time, it was a bit lonely. I found two kittens at San Diego Humane Society who hung out with me in my home studio all day and all night. When I worked from home, I never stopped working. If I had work to do, and I was home- why wouldn’t I just work on it? I didn’t have a good work life balance in Oceanside, but I also know I needed to put in that time for the business to be able to grow the way it did. I made the decision to move back to LA once things settled down in hopes of a better work life balance. So I found an apartment and office space downtown LA. It was so fun, I would walk to work every day and I got to see my friends and family all the time. Our daughter joined us in Feb 2016. I found out pretty quickly that there’s no work/life balance when you have a newborn/toddler. I’d feed her then she’d nap for two hours and that’s when I would get work done. I’d mostly just drink coffee and read Buzzfeed because I was too sleep deprived to actually do anything of substance. I finally realized that I had to surrender completely to being a mom when it was just me and the babe. After that exhaustive newborn phase, I got into a routine where I was really able to focus on work when it was “work time” and focus on baby when it was my time with her. I am lucky that I have a lot of friends and family that always want to see her/babysit. When she started pre-school and became more independent (i.e. tired of hanging out with mom all the time) I felt like we finally figured it out- then COVID happened! Again, I had to pivot and change. I closed the shop to in person shopping for everyone’s safety in March and it hasn’t been open since. I started focusing on the online shop and connecting with customers and community via instagram. Since the shop has been closed, I’ve found that I really miss talking to customers and sharing what new fun products have come in. I’ve taken to shooting some preview product videos- talking to myself on camera instead of customers in person. I am not the most tech savvy person , and sometimes have to re-record the videos because my daughter starts playing Broadway show tunes too loudly in the background. The videos have been well received and I think some new customers have discovered the shop thanks to the social media outreach. That’s working for us now, but who knows what next month, or even next week will bring. I just have to roll with it and see what happens.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My hand lettering is why most clients find out about Paper Pastries. From wedding invitations to custom return address stamps, my hand writing is the personal touch that gets noticed. It has definitely evolved and changed over the years- I now offer about 12 different lettering styles.  Sometimes I laugh when I see my earliest work but I’m also proud because it shows my growth and progress. I’m never satisfied with my work. I know that sounds defeatist and depressing but that attitude is what motivates me.  I always want to take workshops and read books about hand lettering and type design to learn from what others are doing and inspire me to continue to grow.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
All of my trips revolve around food, drinks, and snacks. Every time a friend comes to visit our itinerary revolves around meals and happy hours. DOWNTOWN- Hong Kong milk tea at Cafe dulce and a donut if you’re feeling it. Eggslut breakfast sandwich if you want savory. Hand rolls and matcha iced tea at Kazu Nori. Happy hour at birds & bees. Late night burgers at Buddys. Ice cream at salt and straw in the arts district. DTLA cheese is my go to whenever I need a cheese platter to impress, Lydia the owner will curate a selection for you and it is always perfection. Coffee milkshake at G&B coffee. Honeymee ice cream in Little Tokyo. Oysters and wine at Oyster Gourmet in Grand Central Market. Rooftop drinks at the Ace Hotel. Last Book Store, Downtown LA Library, Bradbury Building. LA flower market (closes early) MOCA, The Broad, Grand Park. See if there’s anything playing at the Mark Taper Forum. You can go up in the tower of City Hall during the week and see an amazing view of the city.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My sister Katie who always answers my frantic calls/texts/emails.

Website: https://paperpastries.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/paperpastries/
Other: https://www.pinterest.com/paperpastries/_shop/

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.