Lindsay McConnell Founder, Mixtape Paper Co.Oct 17, 2022 10:17AM ● By Tricia Hoadley
Inspired by her love for music, colors, love and humor, Newark resident Lindsay McConnell launched her company Mixtape Paper Co. in 2020. Newark Life recently met with Lindsay to talk about her inspirations, her mission and her dream dinner party guests.
Newark Life: Let’s start at the point where Mixtape Paper Co. started. Just before COVID-19 arrived in 2020, you were in a high-level position at a small business and leading a team, but you left your job that February. It is never easy to leave a successful career mid-stream in order to search for a larger purpose, but you were searching for a greater level of happiness and fulfillment. Take our readers through that transformation.
Lindsay: I graduated from UD in 2008 and by 2015 I was working as a brand director for a successful apparel and lifestyle brand based in New York City. I juggled all areas of the business from design and merchandising to sales and marketing, and I was thrilled to develop all these skills in the process. I’ve always been very defined by my work, and I love being that person people turn to and depend on to get the job done right. A lot of my weeks were spent traveling and working crazy hours – as many as 60 to 70 hours were the norm. I found myself not being home every night to have dinner with my family or put my son to bed.
By late 2019, I reached a point where I wanted to trade in all my ambition for happiness. I was exhausted from being spread thin for so many years, and I didn’t see that for me or my family any longer. My son Finn was six at the time, and was becoming increasingly aware of my absence. So, I left my job with the hope of resetting and finding something simpler: the desire to not feel so stressed all the time.
And then the pandemic happened.
When COVID-19 happened, everything turned upside down, and like so many of us, I struggled to make a plan. I was staying home with my son who was now doing remote learning. Going from working in New York City every week to suddenly being home 24/7 was a total shock to the system. I was incredibly antsy to get back to work. I spent a good bit of time thinking about the skills I had developed, and what aspects of my previous jobs brought me the most joy. I knew in my heart I wanted to start a business.
Launching a greeting card line was something I always knew I wanted to do down the line, so instead of waiting, I purchased a dependable home printer – I still print everything off of it today – and began sourcing sustainable paper and materials, and just went for it. The designs poured out of me; it felt like all of this excitement and inspiration was just there waiting to be tapped.
You recently said in another interview that you wanted to start Mixtape Paper Co. because you wanted to help people share more love. Talk about how a simple greeting card can make the world a better place, and what Mixtape Paper Co. does to help facilitate that.
The human element of life, and the connection made with other human beings, is what life is all about to me. There is no solid connection ever made without honest, open communication, and I personally don’t see any value in holding things back. I’d much rather regret something I said than sit with regret over saying nothing at all. That’s the biggest mission here – to encourage people to show up for the people in their life, express their deepest feelings or their gratitude, or just to tell someone how much they mean to them. Our motto has always been “share your love,” and we hope in some small way we can encourage people to do that.
There is not a creative person alive who is not inspired by everything he or she comes in contact with. What inspires you, and how does it translate into your creative vision?
There are a million different things that inspire me, and they’re not always visual. It could be something funny a friend said to me, or an old concert poster, or an interesting color combination my son is wearing on a particular day.
It’s also being present in nature, and letting the beauty of the world wash over me. My biggest influence would have to be music though, especially lyrics which inspire so much of the collection– hence the name Mixtape.
Speaking of music, you create monthly mixtapes that connect your customers and followers to some pretty amazing tunes. Name two or three songs that get you in the creative mood to produce work for Mixtape Paper Co.
“Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS has always been a favorite song of mine. I’m also a major Frank Ocean fan, and his song “Ivy” always gets me in an emotional headspace. To get amped up and energetic, I love listening to Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4,” or “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now” by Starship.
I create the monthly mixtapes with my husband Matt; he can put together a playlist like no other and I love having him as a partner in this small piece of the Mixtape world.
In our world of e-mails and texts, the practice of letter writing has become the lost art of communication, but Mixtape Paper Co. is a creative counterpunch to that trend, yes? In many ways, you are serving as a conduit to have people write letters to each other.
It’s absolutely the reason I set out to do this, and it’s also the reason that all of our cards are blank inside. I want people to use their imagination and their heart to write something thoughtful and meaningful.
I’ve always been passionate about tactile things in life. I’m that girl that still drives around with a massive collection of CDs in her car. People don’t often print out an email or save a text message, but a written letter or a card is forever. They’re going to stand the test of time, and I think it’s a human desire to want things to hold and look back on.
Do you yourself keep old cards and letters?
Yes, even the most inconsequential of them! I’ve framed a lot of my favorite cards my family or I have received and hung them in our home, almost like a gallery.
You’ve become a bit of a road warrior of late, as you have been showcasing your products at artisan shows from Brooklyn to Harrisburg to Newark. What has been the reaction of the people who have seen your work there?
By the end of this year, I will have showcased my work at 35 markets. Meeting customers has been the most rewarding and beneficial part of running this business, and hearing their feedback is such a motivator and validation of what I am doing.
Any small business owner knows how hard this work is, and we all just want to know our work means something to others. When shoppers come to my booth and begin laughing over a particular card they’ve read, or ask me for something for a particular occasion, it’s all so important, and it always informs what I design next.
Mixtape Paper Co. is not just about greeting cards. You developed a series of items specifically for children.
Yes! I love designing with kids in mind, and I have to thank Finn, my 8-year-old son, for being such an awesome collaborator. My Lunchbox Lovin’ Mini Notes and fill-in-the-blank Kiddo Cards were created to encourage little ones to express their feelings and practice sharing gratitude. My mom instilled the habit of thank you card writing early on, and I definitely think it set me up for a life of thankfulness. I love the thought of being a part of that for little ones today.
You recently launched a line of gift wrapping paper.
The gift wrap was so much fun to design, and I see it as a natural evolution and extension of the collection. We launched with two reversible gift wrap designs, and there will be new designs coming out in time for the holidays.
In just a few short years, you have been able to market Mixtape Paper Co. at artisan fairs, markets and have developed a strong online presence. Do you see yourself owning your own store someday?
Absolutely. I have always wanted to be a shop owner, and doing markets has become a small test pilot of that. I have a lot of ideas outside of just a traditional retail space, and I’m really excited about what’s to come for Mixtape Paper Co.
What is your favorite spot in Newark?
If it’s a spot to eat, it would definitely be Roots Natural Kitchen- I’m on a major kick lately with their El Jefe Bowl. If it’s to hang out, I love Rittenhouse Park. It’s a total oasis, and you never know what varieties of animals you will end up seeing there.
Lindsay McConnell throws a dinner party and can invite anyone – famous or not, living or not. Who would you want to see around that table?
Patrick Swayze. Tom Petty. Princess Diana. Chef Gordon Ramsey. Peloton instructor Jess King. ASAP Rocky. Jon Hamm.
What food or beverage can always be found in your refrigerator?
That takes no time to think about. Cheese. I love all types of it. To me, there is no good meal without cheese involved. There are at least six types of cheese in my refrigerator at any given moment. In fact, State Line Liquors is one of my favorite spots to buy cheese; they have an awesome assortment.
Mixtape Paper Co. items are sold in 50 stores in the U.S. and Canada, and are available locally at Bloom, 165 East Main Street in Newark. To learn more about Mixtape Paper Co. and order online, visit www.mixtapepaperco.com or visit Instagram: @mixtapepaperco