The Cal State Fullerton art department is filled with passionate students whose visions come to life in their painted pictures or sculpted statues. For Christy Sohie, a transfer student majoring in graphic design, running her stationery business, called Sohie Paperie, helps turn her creative ideas into reality.
Sohie fell in love with self-employment and the process of creating her own product, but her future in the stationery business wasn’t always planned — she originally wanted to become a kindergarten teacher. Sohie’s career plans took a turn after taking classes and coming to the realization that teaching was not for her.
“I realized I was more passionate about other things, and one of those things is managing my own business,” Sohie said.
After going to her counselor to see other available options, Sohie decided to look into graphic design. She was compelled by the dynamic combination of visual and verbal context to communicate conceptual images.
Sohie was finally set on her decision and began the process of working toward her degree.
“I remember being in my first drawing class because I had never done anything with art in a structured environment. There were a bunch of students in there who had taken art classes from when they were really little and I was not at all at the same level,” Sohie said.
Her business blossomed when she created her own wedding invitations from scratch to save money. She developed greeting cards out of scrapbook paper and glued them onto blank layouts. Eventually, she launched her business in 2014 on Etsy, an online marketplace for selling and buying handmade or unique goods.
Sohie’s brand now consists of florals, pastels and watercolor portraits, showcasing her preferred aesthetic of clean lines with a modern feel and vintage touch. Dylan Sohie, Christy’s husband, said her work is “whimsical” and “fresh” with a very personal touch.
Kristin Smedona, a longtime friend of Christy who has owned a photography business for 12 years, said Sohie Paperie is a testament to Christy’s work ethic.
“She’s always looking for new ideas, new ways to market, new things she can do to help other people,” Smedona said.
However, growing her business has been occasionally difficult due to time constraints with school. Even though she enjoys cultivating her business, Christy said there have been times when she’s had to prioritize school instead.
Despite her scheduling struggles, Christy’s husband has watched her tackle the challenges.
“She is certainly busy but it’s really cool to see her doing what she loves to do. Seeing her grow in her ability to make products and her ability to just manage herself, and just how she improved over the years with her skills,” Dylan said.
While Dylan doesn’t share the same artistic passion, Christy said her husband has helped strategically plan and build her business.
After she graduates this spring, Christy Sohie said she plans to work full time at Tillys where she has held a corporate position for the last four years.
At Tillys, she’s able to utilize her graphic design tools by creating flyers and booklets for its stores to distribute.
In addition to her shop, Christy said she offers a free downloadable product each month, as well as a blog to interact and give back to her audience, who she says have supported her along the way.
“I primarily do it just to connect with my customers and my audience because I don’t want it to just be ‘Buy this product and then buy this product.’ I want it to be a relationship behind the products,” Christy said.
With set goals for the future, which include starting a Pinterest account and finishing a new collection of greeting card designs, Christy hopes to be more consistent with her brand’s message.
“My mission is to create beautiful stationery and products that would encourage people to live their everyday lives purposefully,” Christy said.