One of our volunteers for 2012 !   Leave a comment

ImageWe are working on a number of great new cards for 2012…here’s a hint for one of them.  It is super super soft and rich !


An appreciation of others   Leave a comment

2011 was a very good year for Paperworks Studio.  We sold more cards, we helped more people and we prepared ourselves for another solid year in 2012.

We could not have done it without the support that everyone has given us and their appreciation of the fine work that our artists do in creating our beautiful handmade cards.

2011 was a year of corporate partnerships for Paperworks Studio and we had the fortune of working with and getting to know the great people at Goodwill, Lee Jeans, the Autism Society and baabaazuzu.  We look forward to another great year and adding 2-3 more great corporate partners in 2012.

We are also adding some more cards, here’s a hint at what we are working on and doubling the holiday selection–so if you loved the 2011 holiday cards, get ready to love 2012 even more.

From all of our artists and staff at Paperworks Studio, thank you.

2011 Holiday Greeting Cards from Paperworks Studio   Leave a comment

2011 Holiday Card Lines!

Here’s our new 2011 Holiday Cards–in our new brochure…check it out and share it with your friends–it will change lives.

We have 4 new cards:

  • Snowing Rose Petals (which has real rose petals in the cards!
  • Dancing Tree-O (3 cool die-cut trees that are dancing!)
  • Falling Flakes (snowflakes with a soft snowy trail)
  • Wheelchair Art cards (painting with wheelchair wheels and artists brushes!)

We have already received orders from 18 different states and the reaction is fantastic to our best holiday cards ever.  Keep spreading the word !

Quality vs. Charity   Leave a comment

Quality vs. Charity

To introduce new companies and people to Paperworks Studio–we will give tours and send samples.

It takes time and costs money, but the reaction and connection, is always the same.  “You cards are fantastic.  I didn’t know they would be so beautiful.”  If you have a great product, you have to show people.  Especially with our cards, you have to touch, see and feel them.  It is a reason why the Detroit News said our cards look very nice on our website, but when you get them, you can see they are magical.

We understand that because our artists who make the cards have disabilities or disadvantages, it is easy to think that the quality of our cards would be less than Hallmark and other card companies.  It is gratifying to see and hear that our quality stands out.  Our artists are proud of what they do, and Paperworks Studio runs as any other company would run.  Goals and standards are set and quality control procedures are put in place to make sure that our handmade recycled cards are of the highest quality.

We keep this quality while developing new cards like recycled blue jean cards, sweater cards, coffee cards and holiday cards made with real rose petals!

It is a reason why Lee Jeans, baabaazuzu, State Farm, R.W. Baird, FIM, Hub International, Merrill Lynch and many other companies and people from around the country use Paperworks Studio’s handmade recycled one-of-a-kind greeting cards.

If our cards didn’t have this high standard of quality, then we might as well just ask for donations.

You can meet some of our artists at this link–great cards and inspiration.

Relationship Builders   Leave a comment

“Social-media fans are embracing paper. While United States Postal Service sees a decline in mailed letters overall, tech-savvy paper-lovers—in frequent contact via blogs, Facebook and Twitter—are giving rise to a host of small stationery makers.” —Wall Street Journal

Paperworks Studio director Margaret Alexander always had a sense that the younger people would connect like this, and was excited that the Journal confirmed  the same trends that she saw in their operation.  “For 18 years, we’ve always had a strong connection with the 35+ age range, but in the last couple of years, we’ve had a very large and quickly accelerating group of younger people who are really connecting with our mission of empowering others, being environmentally conscious and making handmade cards that you can’t get anywhere else,” Alexander explained.

Paperworks Studio–a program of Goodwill–makes handmade recycled cards with Lee Jeans, wool sweaters, coffee, beer and other unique recycled materials.

“Selecting a special handmade card, and in our case a recycled card–made by artists with disabilities and disadvantages–and then taking the time to write a special handwritten note, and posting it to your special person–means you care well beyond the fast and easy clicks on a keyboard,” Alexander continued.  We call our 5-packs ‘relationship builders’ and we’ve extensively tested it and it works.  Send a card once a week, or 5 days in a row–it is a great way to build and expand a relationship.

Relationship builder 5-packs of recycled coffee cards


Relationship 5-pack recycled Groovy cards

Prom at Paperworks: Mo on the Go!   Leave a comment

Hello, hello! I’m Mo, and I’m always “on the go” for my friends at Paperworks studio. I spend a lot of time with our artists at both card-making facilities, shooting videos and conducting interviews that I then upload to our Facebook page. Every once in a while, when something really cool/exciting/inspirational happens on the job, I’ll post it here so our readers and fans have  a better sense about what we do and who our artists are….they’re all so wonderful, I wish you could meet them in person!

A few days ago, I had the honor and privilege to attend the TBA prom.

I put on my high school prom dress, donned some earrings my boyfriend’s mom made me and my pearl necklace, and I braided some pigtails quickly: my signature “Mo on the Go” hairdo! I loaded up my two cameras and drove down to the Park Place in Traverse City, ready to dance and capture the night to share with the world.

My interactions and communications with special needs or disabled people–both my age and older–were very few and far between until I started working at Paperworks. I remember some kids in my school, but I was never in any classes with them; I knew they were there, but I didn’t feel like I was in-touch with their lives at all. After taking my job last month at Paperworks, I’m amazed by what I learn every day and how touched and inspired I am every time I go to work.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I went to prom: though we do employ a lot of students from TBA at Paperworks, I had no idea what the prom would be like, how many people would be there, and if I would fit in at all with the students. In my experience, every person I’ve met at both the Adult Work Center at TBA and at the main (but smaller) studio nearby, everyone is incredibly nice, welcoming, and incredibly non-judgemental. Honestly, before working at Paperworks, I can easily say I’ve  not found that too many places.

Of course, I also recognized that this prom would be a lot different than the ones I went to in high school. Sure, the kids would dress up and dance and go with dates, but the atmosphere and vibe would be different….I mean, it would need to be, right?

What I experienced at the prom was beyond anything I could have expected. There was nothing unusual, strange, or weird about the prom: I think I actually enjoyed my time there more than I did at my senior prom!

The dance floor!

Inside the Park Place for the TBA prom

First off, the Park Place was decorated beautifully. White streamers and a soft glow of light made the room radiate a warmth and congeniality that matched the people attending the prom. The room was abuzz with activity as the king and queen were just being announced, but even so, there was something special in the room that evening, and I couldn’t deny it.

What I felt was complete peace with myself, which was certainly not what I set out to find that night. Everywhere I looked, I saw parents and guardians there with their kids, who had beaming smiles on their faces as they laughed and danced with their close friends. The students were all dressed up in whatever fine attire they chose to wear, but they all looked wonderful despite their clothes: their presence in the room alone was captivating. Never have I seen people so excited to be somewhere; never have I seen such genuine love amongst a group of people, and I was drawn to this energy in a way I didn’t think was possible, if only because I never experienced it myself.

Students out on the dance floor!

Though I took a lot of pictures and videos of the prom, I dropped my guard and my “role” as a social media coordinator for Paperworks and completely immersed myself in the scene around me, just like the students did. I danced with complete strangers, I sang along to “Who Let the Dogs Out” and Shania Twain, I worked up a sweat and didn’t care what my hair looked like at the end of the night. The people around me accepted me for who I am, because they don’t judge people at all: I think they’re quite incapable of doing so, and I admit I’m jealous of this talent.

The most important thing I learned last Thursday night at the prom is that we are all the same, and we all have the same basic needs. We all want to be loved. I always thought that sounded really tacky and trite, but that’s because, until I went to the prom it was only something I had heard: that night, I saw, lived, felt, and breathed it.

Shane and Jade...recently engaged! Congrats!

Everywhere around me, students danced with their dates, held each other close, and requested slow songs to share with their special someone. Two workers at Paperworks, Shane and Jade, were recently engaged to be married…and though this initially made me very nervous to hear because I was unsure how they would make a living together, I realized that it doesn’tmatter how they make a living because they love one another and that’s all they need. They will find a way to make it work for each other, and I am excited for them.

There is something so pure about the way the students interact with each other. Even among themselves, where there are a variety of mental and physical disabilities or handicaps, there are no barriers in their friendships, and everyone communicates and interacts with everyone. It is the most incredible thing I have every seen, and I feel so comfortable around my new friends at Paperworks and TBA because they don’t see the “imperfections” or “flaws” that I might see when I look in the mirror. They see someone just like them, who breathes and exists just like them, and for that reason alone they trust me and want to interact with me. I am honored to know each and every one of those students, even if only in passing, because they are the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.

I danced for a solid two hours before heading home. I felt like I was on a cloud, despite not having a date to the prom, because I felt a part of something so special that I know few people will ever experience. I wish everyone’s prom could be as stress-free and celebratory as the TBA prom…we could all learn so much!

That’s all for me. I look forward to posting more stories about my adventures with the people at Paperworks Studio, and I’ll definitely be writing again soon!

– Mo

How Paperworks Studio Got Started.   Leave a comment


About 18 years ago, Tim Coffee, a special education teacher in Traverse City, Michigan wanted to help his students build life and


work skills, so he started teaching them how to craft paper cards from pulp. His efforts picked up steam and became


Paperworks Studios, a mission-based, market driven, social enterprise.  They have an amazing team of people with special needs and disadvantages who make the cards.  An aray of recycled products are used to make the cards–blue jeans, coffee, flower–even beer!

When you buy cards from us, you are helping impact someone’s life.


In 2008, the program partnered with Goodwill Industries, and it provided an framework and structure organization–and a building to house everything– to expand.  Paperworks Studio is now making cards for companies ranging from Forture 500 to yoga studios–with everyone knowing ‘that cards change lives.’