Every week on The Primer we ask a local business or product to introduce themselves in eight simple takes. This week we talk to Kareena Harris from The Misprint Co, makers of bespoke upcycled paper notebooks.
ONE: How did The Misprint Co start and what was the inspiration behind it?
The idea for The Misprint Co came out of a university paper. Our team (which included Misprint co-founders Jenny Buckler and Priscilla Loong) was studying visual communication at Massey University and our assignment was to create a hypothetical business to solve a problem using design thinking. We noticed that designers tended to waste a lot of paper and a lot of the paper in recycling bins was still white. We found that there was a market between a designer’s use of notebooks and this unused paper with some fun things printed on it.
After we went through a Lightning Lab Accelerator in 2015, we realised that this kind of paper wastage wan’t specific to designers. Almost all types of organisation use and waste a lot of paper. We also learnt that it takes 10 litres of water to make one new piece of paper, and from there we knew we could make a difference.
TWO: Did you have any interest/experience in business or entrepreneurship prior to starting The Misprint Co.?
I had ideas around starting a business when I was little, but I thought that meant owning something with walls, like a restaurant. Through Misprint, I’ve been exposed to the most innovative and smart business models from other companies in our space. That’s really changed what I thought business was for the better.
THREE: Where do you source all your paper from? Do you use all types of paper?
All of our paper comes from the organisations that have signed up for our collection service, as well as from one-off donations. We collect from over 80 different organisations including schools, businesses and government agencies. Most of these are in Wellington but also nationwide.
We collect A4 (office paper size) or larger that is blank on one side and doesn’t contain any confidential information. We also collect old letterhead and the paper from when your printer gives you pages of wingdings instead of your document.
FOUR: What methods do you use to create these recycled paper notebooks? Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
The paper we use is not treated by shredding or mulching into new paper. It’s used as is which makes for a unique notebook.
First, we sort the paper we collect for blankness. We also take anything that you wouldn’t want in a notebook out like emails and full names. Then we use the amount of blankness in a curation process to make a practical yet fun notebook. You still have to be able to write in it!
Our cover designs and final binding are done by Wakefields Digital who we’ve been sponsored by for a while now. They do a really good job of making the notebooks look professional.
One of the best parts of our process is we can create custom covers for every order we do so a business can brand them however they like. We also have a guest artist series on our website where we feature a cover design every season by a new local artist.
FIVE: How much paper waste/water has The Misprint Co managed to save with its recycled paper notebooks?
We just hit a milestone of saving 500,000 sheets of paper from landfill which is 5 million litres of water! We can calculate how much paper we save by weighing the usable paper as it comes in. It also allows us to share the individual environmental impact data with each of our customers.
SIX: Despite smartphones becoming so ubiquitous in the way that we jot down notes, write down messages, plan events etc, why do you think physical notebooks have continued to remain popular?
I think that notebooks have remained popular for their tactility and practicality. I still find it easier to carry a notebook around for those quick ideas. It feels more satisfying to write it down than type it into my phone where, knowing me, I could accidentally delete it. It’s a lot easier to express personality through a notebook than a phone. Sometimes just the act of writing it down in a notebook means you’ll remember it better later.
SEVEN: Do you any other plans to scale/grow further and if so, what are they?
We have big dreams of becoming a nationwide option before recycling. We’d love to create more products and services that allow us to collect and use double sided and confidential paper, and stop paper from getting to landfill altogether.
We’re also looking into a franchise type model so that each city can have its’ own repurposing facilities. This will make it more environmentally friendly than shipping paper around the country.
EIGHT: Lastly, tell us about a start-up or business that you really admire right now.
Method Recycling is pretty awesome. They make beautiful recycling bins that help to separate waste streams. Another one would be Little Yellow Bird which makes ethical and sustainable uniforms. Both of these companies are going from strength to strength and are ones I look up to.
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