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Conversations with Gen Sohr

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gen Sohr.

Hi Gen, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?

It’s a bit of a happy accident. My background is in retail. My husband Benjamin and I worked for Old Navy for many years; I focused on visual merchandising and marketing, and he did in-store design. When we got to Nashville, we started a little store, and I had a baby, which felt crazy. Benjamin and I were both commuting, working for big retailers, and eventually, it hit for both of us that we wanted to be based here.

We built a house in the 12South area, and people would knock on the door and ask us questions about it. That launched us into buying and renovating houses and doing design work. Ultimately my husband and I have broken the business into two divisions. (He leads a creative consulting agency that specializes in branding and product development). The Pencil and Paper Co. that you now see on the blog and Instagram is representative of the lifestyle and media brand that we have become today!

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?

Any time that you start your own business there is so much to learn along the way. I think one of my greatest takeaways is that it is absolutely okay to pivot! We try lots of different things in our business and some of them are amazing and feel like a good fit, and some of them you ultimately have to decide to let go.

That to me is part of the evolution of owning a business. Don’t be worried about making mistakes, that’s truly how you learn what works, what doesn’t  and ultimately what you love.

As a business owner you are touching so many areas of the company: creative, finance, payroll, human resources, legal…the list can feel endless. Becoming proficient in such a diverse mix of skill sets  can certainly be intimidating.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?

We always have a lot of balls in the air! We’re excited because we have an opportunity to partner with other like-minded creatives and female founders. I’m such a fan of working with other creative women. We have a brand new dress collaboration launching in early December with Print Fresh, a dynamic print-and-pattern-loving brand out of Philadelphia. They do the most wonderful loungewear and pajamas, and I desperately wanted to get a dress into the mix with them. We also just released two really great day planner designs with another female-owned company that we adore: Sugar Paper Los Angeles, and then we have another really exciting collaboration with the two incredible female founders behind — Neely and Chloe. Together we’ve created an entire travel line that’s of course filled with our signature colors and happy patterns. And, each month we’re releasing a new subscription box filled with a fun curation of our latest favorite finds! 

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?

We created an art print of inspirational quotes and the first line is “dare to begin, especially if it scares you”! That idea really resonates with me. You absolutely have to take risks to evolve, personally and professionally.

I think just opening a business has a high level of risk. Every time we begin a new area of the company it is a risk and an opportunity. In business (and in life) we are forever evaluating the balance of risk vs reward.

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Image Credits
Jessica Amerson

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