Written by: Charmaine Foo (Photo by: Jaime Lee)
Interview with Jaime Lee
In the past few years, I’ve been inspired by certain individuals in the creative industry who believe that an entrepreneur or brand-owner demands more than just passion, hard work, and creativity. It requires one to be set apart from the world, and be filled with a spirit of humility. While living out this calling could be a turbulent journey, I’ve learnt from them on how our faith can remain unwavering when God is the anchor.
Jaime Lee, Founder and Creative Director of The Paper Bunny, is definitely one of these individuals. In an interview with SELAH, she sheds light on her entrepreneurial journey and details important lessons from the pursuit of fulfilling her calling. She also shares on how God used, refined, and sustained her through the uncertainties of life transitions.
How did the idea of starting your own business come about?
When I was younger, I was always of the opinion that I’d always work for someone else — it seemed so much easier! However, when I started exploring and discovering graphic design later on in life, I was filled with an overwhelming desire to create and put out my own designs that had a positive spin on it. I was always very drawn to the idea of combining beautiful designs with godly perspectives and positive quotes, and had always felt there was a lack of such a combination.
I didn’t set out to create a business or career at all; I just wanted to design and see my creations out in the hands of real people. With a lot of encouragement and support from my husband, we managed to start something small, and the rest is history.
Given that you had a stable full-time job in the legal sector, what caused you to take such a big risk?
I was actually straddling a full time in-house counsel job and running The Paper Bunny for two years before I took the plunge to quit and go full-time into running the business. I knew that if I wanted to have kids in the next few years, it wouldn’t be possible to have a day job, run a business, and raise a child. It was crazy enough juggling two completely different professions.
I also knew that there were still many things I had to give through The Paper Bunny and that God wasn’t done with me. I had many fears when I was considering making the big jump out of law, but He reminded me — through godly counsel — that He has brought me all the way thus far with so much undeserved favour; if He has called me out, He will lead, guide, and provide.
What have been the biggest struggles ever since?
Being a first-time business owner with no business experience or training, I often find myself less equipped in relation to the administrative and business aspects of running a start-up. I have always asked God if He would bring alongside someone who will believe in the brand and take over all these aspects that I am weak at, but at the moment I am learning by leaps and bounds in my weaknesses. It is definitely a faith journey. I always wonder if I am cut out for this — if I have what it takes to go the distance.
How did you overcome these struggles?
I believe that the journey is not about saying you have overcome all struggles, but that you continuously step out in faith each day with God’s help. With each new struggle or challenge that comes our way, we just have to look up in faith, grit our teeth, and face it head on. My husband, Justin, is a huge support and encouragement to me, and always helps me to see the bigger picture and giving me the strength to continue.
The Paper Bunny have received such successful traction from the media and lifestyle industry. What does success mean to you today?
We are really thankful for all the favour and support from the media and lifestyle industry, as well as our customers and friends thus far. Success to me is being able to create a brand and products that make an impact in the lives of all through design and positivity.
We are still learning and refining our processes and work, but we hope to continue to empower others to empower more people and themselves through our designs and pieces across the world. If that is what people know The Paper Bunny to be, that would be success to me.
Congrats on your pregnancy! With this addition to your family, how are you preparing for this new chapter of your life whilst having to manage the business?
Thank you! For one, we are moving out of our home office to a separate office space — something that the team and I are very excited about. There is a lot to think about with the move, plus the baby along the way, as well as trying to plan for childcare arrangements once the kid is out, but we are taking things one step at a time.
How can Christians integrate faith and Godly values into their business or at the marketplace?
For me, being a Christian is a “matter-of-fact” part of my life. I personally don’t think there needs to be a separation between “Christian brands/businesses” versus “secular brands/businesses.” If you are a Christ follower, the way you make decisions every day — from interacting with your team to dealing with money matters to choosing quotes for products — will reflect the values you embody. It’s not about slapping on bible verses on your wall or a cross on your desk — if you deal with people right, they will see Jesus in you.
What has been the greatest revelation from God in your marketplace journey?
God can use anyone for His purposes with whatever talents you have — if He calls, He will lead and guide. It is what I have learnt so far and what has taken me through my discouragements and low moments. It is also what keeps me humble in our high points and successes, knowing that it is not by my strength alone that I am here.
What is the one advice for Christians who wish to embark on this entrepreneurship journey?
Unless the Lord builds the house, the labourers labour in vain. Entrepreneurship is so glamourised today — probably in recognition of the hard work and achievements of people who have built something with their own hands — but it is definitely not all glitzy. There is so much hard work, struggles, fears, and tears in managing your own business (not to mention never ever switching off), and it should not be one that is lightly entered into.
However, if you are called, you will inevitably find yourself in the thick of action. When we realise and recognise that this journey is not about our strengths or weaknesses alone, looking to God for guidance and wisdom is not an option but a lifeline we hold on to every single step of the way.
Where do you see The Paper Bunny in the next few years?
We hope to be more present in stores internationally — we are currently in a few cities worldwide but we hope to expand further in the coming years, and hopefully reach more people.