CSULB alums become finalists in Martha Stewart’s awards
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 00:09
Abigail Barnes knows how to throw a party, whether it’s in the jungle or under the sea, and Martha Stewart has taken notice.
Barnes, a graphic design alumna from Cal State Long Beach, crafts parties using paper and ribbon for decorations, and her skill has enabled her to start a self-operated printable “partyware” business called Paper & Cake.
The business allows customers to purchase party decorations online and print them at home, and it has claimed a spot amongst the 100 finalists of Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards.
“This whole Martha Stewart opportunity is a dream,” Barnes said. “It would be a complete change for the business.”
Barnes’ business was selected from 2,000 entries by Martha Stewart and a team of editors from Martha Stewart Living, according to a statement released by Barnes.
Barnes said she never planned on owning her own business.
“My plan when I graduated was to be a graphic designer and become a creative director — have a big name,” Barnes said. Despite this, Barnes said her current work is “very fulfilling.”
Through Paper & Cake, customers can go online to purchase “partyware,” a term Barnes coined. Customers are then sent a link with a PDF download of the partyware, which they can print and assemble using scissors and glue.
Barnes said one of the most gratifying aspects of her job is “the freedom of creativity.”
“It’s still graphic design and I still get to use typography, which I love and am totally obsessed with,” Barnes said. “It can be anything I want it to be.”
Barnes started making her party decorations ten years ago, at her daughter’s first birthday party.
“Martha Stewart had a kids’ magazine, and I got the idea of a giraffe-shaped cake from there,” she said. “I made this amazing construction paper and ribbon jungle-themed party just out of my own creativity, without having to buy any prepackaged party decorations.”
Barnes continued with her “partyware” making, throwing an under-the-sea themed party for her daughter the next year. At the end of 2008, she started selling her convenient partyware online, starting with a Christmas set.
In November 2011, Barnes gained her executive assistant, Jordan Patton, who is also a graphic design alumna from CSULB.
Since then, the two have worked together to expand and promote Paper & Cake. They have designed for Operation Shower, a nonprofit organization that hosts baby showers for military families. They have also been recognized by magazines like Good Housekeeping and television shows like “The Today Show.”
“What we do every day is the marketing — on Facebook, on Twitter, and other social networking sites,” Barnes said. “It’s tough because the world doesn’t know that you can get an entire party with a computer and a printer.”
Voting for the finalists opened in August and runs until Sept. 24 on marthastewart.com/americanmade. The finalist with the most votes will be announced online Oct. 8 and will be honored at the American Made Awards in New York City, with a $10,000 prize and a feature in the Martha Stewart Living magazine. Paper & Cake is currently in the top four.
“It’s hard to sell something that people don’t even know exists,” Barnes said. “So this could be the moment, the big break.”