From an idea on a train...
It all began with a boyfriend, a stolen board and a good birthday idea. Then it got out of hand. Before she knew it, she'd painted over forty boards.
As with anything in this world, The Paper Rain Project began with a simple idea. Starting with hand-painted waterski longboards (with decks sourced from Kotahi Longboards) our co-founder, Indigo began producing custom boards whilst at art school in 2009, the first being a replacement for her (then boyfriend's) stolen ride. When travelling Europe a year later, the idea grew to fill three notebooks. However, things really took shape when co-founders Indigo and Wills embarked on their journey by taking The Paper Rain Project more seriously in 2013. Since then, their dream of helping to create a better world by producing high quality, sustainable and creative products has become a reality.
Now as we approach our FIFTH anniversary, The Paper Rain Project would love to share our milestones over the course of the road so far. We hope you enjoy the recap and look forward to you being a part of our future growth as we continue to wherever things may lead!
From Waterskis to Wine Barrels
When Wills came on board, he was experimenting with recycled woods to develop his own longboard decks. He found that being from Marlborough, where there's more wine than water, there was an abundance of French Oak barrels. He may have chosen the hardest process of board making possible, but once steamed, straightened, joined and shaped, the oak finished up beautifully. These became the new in-house boards which would be a canvas for many New Zealand artists over the next 5 years.
The Blanks Project 2014/2015
As Paper Rain began expanding from art longboards to organic cotton tees, Indigo and Wills developed a relationship with Freeset. This 'business for freedom' not only sew our 100% organic cotton t-shirts, the women behind their apparel are supported out of the sex trade of Kolkata, India.
In order to launch these tees with their love of creativity in mind, the Blanks Project was launched as an artist competition. Our first prints saw artworks from artists as far afield as Portugal, France & England as well as by our very own Hannah Batty (now our Assistant Manager). By 2016, we would work directly with an artist to commission an artwork. More on this soon...
Despite the business growth over the years, we're still printing out of the garage...
Allpress Gallery Exhibition 2015
When Auckland's Allpress Gallery took us on in 2015, the spacious white walls saw us collaborate with a number of artists for board artwork too. This was our inaugural Auckland show which saw us partner with Karma Cola and Rogue Society Distilling Co who would become long term Pals of Paper Rain.
Our First Store - Picton, late 2015
As Marlborough was both home to co-founders Indigo and Wills, in addition to being the gateway to the South Island, by the end of 2015, Paper Rain was ready to open the doors to a physical store on the High Street of Picton. Despite the Kaikoura Quake knocking down the front facade in 2016 (and letting in SO much more sun!) the Picton store was a great success, particularly over the busy summer season. We've loved having the chance to connect with so many people on their way through the top of the South!
We never let a 'little' hurdle like this hold us back!
The Kickstarter - 2016
Soon after opening in Picton, Paper Rain decided to give People Power a go and started a Kickstarter campaign to further develop their wine barrel boards. The goal was to raise money to purchase much needed equipment to increase and widen our production range while keeping our products to the same standard of sustainability and quality. With a modest aim and always the risk of failure, we gave it a go... and were blown away by the response! Not only did we meet the kickstarter goal, but Wills and Indigo were kept very busy for the next 12 months meeting the orders generated by the Kickstarter, having blasted over 500% beyond the original goal!
This huge response allowed the team to purchase much needed equipment and to grow naturally and in the best possible way - with YOUR help! (Thanks guys, as hard as it was, you made a hugely positive impact on our business!)
The Tannery Store - Christchurch 2016
Chasing the tail of a Summer season, we decided to jump ship from our hometown to open in Christchurch with the help of friends, Darelle & Hannah.
Redeveloped Wine Barrel Board
Hello new workshop, CNC router and a better way of doing things.... The Kickstarter sped up the development of our wine barrel board and enabled us to move into a new workshop, further down the back of the cherry orchard where our HQ is now based. See our workshop story or wine barrel board art range.
Framingham Underground 2017
With a growing number of artists contributing to Paper Rain and partnerships with many sustainable companies, The Paper Rain Project launched an exhibition comprising of 59 art boards by 23 different artists at the Framingham winery during the winter of 2017.
The Cause Range
Although being sustainable and ethical were still high on the priority list for Paper Rain, there was an inherent need to do more, to contribute back and to work with other causes and organisations - both socially and environmentally - that would help improve this country that we all love so much. Cue, The Cause Phenomenon.
And so the CAUSE Range was born! Starting with the original Black Dog by Ellaquaint, we followed suit with a series of boards when working with Renaissance Brewing on a beer and board series that would support native wetland rehabilitation. We then released the Kete design from Hannah Batty (in support for Satisfy Food Rescue) and the Ampersand design from Michel Tuffery (in support of Sustainable Coastlines.) Our CAUSE t-shirt range has expanded to support everything from fighting depression to local and national conservation projects protecting land, sea, water and native species.
The ultimate aim is to have everything in store supporting a worthy cause!
Auckland Pop-Up Store 2017 & Now!
Last year we tried something new, yet again, by opening a pop-up store in the heart of Auckland, at Ponsonby Central. The local Aucklanders made us feel right at home and enjoyed the sustainable, organic and fair trade items we had to offer. Due to the warm welcome and success in Auckland, we came back for a second helping... and are currently in Auckland with our second ever pop-up store as we write this very blog! Get there now.
Expanding the Team
Originally, it was a core crew of two - our co-founders, Indigo Greenlaw & Wills Rowe. Hannah Batty, our Assistant Manager, joined us as store staff for our Christchurch shop. However, it turned out that she was an absolute asset in many other ways as we've managed to hold her in our clutches for two years now. She's an intrinsic and much loved part of Paper Rain (we love you, Hannah). We've taken on a new team member recently, - the nature and people enthusiast, Ailie Suzuki who is based at our HQ. Meet our people here.
Hannah and Ailie are strong parts of our current crew but we've had other amazing team members along the way! A special thanks to Greta, Wade, Darelle, Linzee, Liza, Marni, Amy & Gabriela who have all put in a big dose of help and enthusiasm over the last few years. (Not to mention our families who have been the number 1 fans since day dot, and people such as Nicola Michelle who have put in a lot of time off the payroll!) To every person who has ever loaned us plants, made us coffee or helped us with set up, pack down, telling a friend and sharing a Facebook post ~ THANK YOU!!!!
A huge thanks to the amazing team members we've had along the way!!
Meet Your Makers
In March, this year, we headed off to India to meet the women behind our goods. These are ladies who have come from backgrounds of severe hardship and poverty who are employed by businesses such as The Loyal Workshop, Common Good & Freeset. The best sum-up-ance of our trop takeaways are in our interview with Idealog Magazine.
Changes on the Horizon...
So now.... we're hitting the road with our pop up shop. Currently we're in Auckland (for just three more days, finishing up on May 13th) and next month we'll open our doors to Wellington (for 6 weeks.) Summer will most likely see us back in the Picton Store, then Melbourne for February. Who knows where next.... Meanwhile, our HQ, office and stock have consolidated in our Cherry Farm workshop. This HQ is where Ailie and Hannah hold fort while Wills & Indigo are on the road with the shop.
So, we're coming soon near you but for now, we're online 24/7 with free NZ shipping. Thanks so much for being a part of the last five years of our business, we could have never done it without your continued support. Here's the next half decade!?
WHOLESALE ~ We're now offering our art goods to select wholesalers nation wide. Interested? Get in touch.
A HUGE THANK YOU to none other than Rachael Brown Photography who is responsible for capturing 90% of our goofiness, our lifestyle and products. You are sensational and you truly get us, not only as a brand, but as people. Thank you.