July 2018 Honoree
Papercraft Miracles- Owner
Janna Willoughby-Lohr took a leap of faith in 2013 when she founded Papercraft Miracles, an eco-friendly stationery and bookbinding studio. They create decorative handmade papers, plantable seed bombs, wedding invitations, handbound journals and photo albums, pop-up books, paper flowers and more.
She came up with the idea of the business while in college in 2001. She intended to be an artist but wanted also to make a living at it, so she created a her own major bringing entrepreneurial business and art together. Since then, she has been slowly building up her skills in both fields until making the business official in 2013. Later that year, she and her husband bought a mixed-use commercial building on Niagara Street in Black Rock. It is residence and also houses commercial tenants, and their two studio spaces. In January 2016 after Janna had her first child, she quit her day-job and made Papercraft Miracles a full-time venture. Shortly after that, she acquired the equipment to create a papermaking studio. In summer 2018, they expanded the office and studio space into the lower floor of the building and now have both the basement and the first floor operational. In July, Janna one of the 27 Ignite Buffalo grants through 43 North and Facebook and was awarded $25,000 to help build the business as well as a year of business mentoring and coaching.
Janna says the biggest challenge she’s faced was procuring a space and the equipment to make paper. She and her husband searched for a property that would suit their needs. She says, “Probably two per week for two years! Until we found just the right one. It was very scary to buy this amazing building with every penny that we had but it was definitely the right choice. Once I had the space, acquiring papermaking equipment is difficult. It’s big, expensive and hard to come by. I happened upon someone selling an entire studio full of stuff (including equipment and materials) and I took another risk and jumped in with both feet! We bought it all and moved it from Indiana to Buffalo.”
Janna is a member of the Black Rock Riverside Business Alliance which works to improve the neighborhood, foster relationships amongst the existing businesses, and to draw new business to the area. She serves on the board of directors of the Buffalo Niagara Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO). Through NAWBO Janna has given talks in local high schools to groups of young women interested in becoming entrepreneurs and worked to create a student-membership scholarship to allow younger women access to the organization. She teaches countless workshops in paper and book arts to children and adults in the community, including Printing Partner’s program at Journey’s End Refugee School, papermaking with the Ellicottville Central School’s ESPRA (Ellicottville Students Preserving the Reading of America) Club through WNYBAC, papermaking in several community gardens as part of the Read, Seed, Write program through JustBuffalo Literary Center, and bookbinding at the Parkside Day Camp. Janna also donate 10% of the proceeds from the sales of all rainbow colored products directly to Gay & Lesbian Youth Services (GLYS) of WNY.