The Paper Dolphin believes in giving as many chances to paper and cardboard as possible.Urusha Maher
It is an absolute relief to see the mushrooming of eco-conscious brands in many parts of the world as it is high time we humans did things right. The story behind The Paper Dolphin, an eco-conscious stationery brand, is very inspiring. From chancing upon rejected paper to converting it into beautiful little notebooks and stationery, Urusha Maher, Founder of The Paper Dolphin, has come a long way. The effort behind the brand and its motive is truly what attracts one to the products they offer. In conversation with Urusha, we learn more about the brand, the story behind it and its plans for the future!
Chennai Insider: Tell us about The Paper Dolphin. What is it about?
Urusha: The Paper Dolphin is an online eco-conscious stationery brand that believes in giving as many chances to paper and cardboard as possible. Our product ranges from notebooks made from recycled paper, to plantable seed pencils made from old newspapers. We also conduct drives on social media to encourage buying of second-hand books, donating of half-used notebooks and one-sided paper, and collection of old torn clothes.
Chennai Insider: What made you start your startup? What is the story behind it?
Urusha: The Paper Dolphin started when I was in college, during my internship. I always had an inclination towards stationery and product design. During a study from college, I chanced upon a godown which housed rejected paper and extra cut-offs at its backside. That paper was of “no use” and was going back to recycling (waste of energy since the paper is still usable), or gets spoiled because of water/other reasons if not collected on time.
I felt this was an opportunity to make sustainable and guilt-free stationery. I couldn’t see such a resource go to waste. I started experimenting, and making sketchbooks for classmates and relatives as gifts. That turned into orders for custom books, and then eventually it lead to the opening of an Instagram page dedicated to guilt-free stationery.
Chennai Insider: What is the process of manufacturing the stationaries? Could you briefly explain the process?
Urusha: Our stationery goes through a very step-by-step process, which can be applied to all our products. We get our product ideas from the waste that’s available to us. For example, if we have narrow strips of thick paper, we decide to cut them down and bind them into mini-sketchbooks.
Our collection drives on social media encourages people to participate in our sourcing process. We convert half-used notebooks and one-sided paper into notebooks. We use torn clothes and old cardboard boxes in our packaging. Basically we design our products based on availability of raw material and waste generated from previous products.
Chennai Insider: What are your products? Which is your bestseller?
Urusha: Our products:
- Notebooks made from recycled paper and cardboard (A5 and A6)
- Half-ticket notebooks – made from half used notebooks and one sided paper.
- Plantable seed pens made from recycled cardboard
- Plantable seed pencils made from newspaper
- Matchbook style tear-off notepad minis
- Mini sketchbooks
- Rescued denim book sleeves (Limited Edition)
- Recipe Journal
- Book of You – an activity book for grown-ups, etc.
Our best sellers currently are our pens, pencils, Book of You, and the Recipe Journal.
Chennai Insider: Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before The Paper Dolphin?
Urusha: I was a student of Architecture. I figured that during my internship, architecture wasn’t something I wanted to pursuit. I liked working in a firm, but it was not giving me the satisfaction you get from designing and selling a product of your own.
Chennai Insider: What were the challenges you faced in starting The Paper Dolphin? How did you overcome it?
Urusha: The biggest challenge for me was to get started. The idea of starting something that may or may not work out was scary. I was able to overcome it only with support from my family and my loved ones.
Chennai Insider: How do you evaluate consumers’ preference to eco-conscious brands today? Do you think more people will make the effort to be eco-friendly in the future?
Urusha: The customers are getting more sensitive to the environment, and are looking for alternatives that could take them towards sustainable living one small step at a time. It’s a slow, but sure curve where being eco-conscious will eventually become the new normal.
Chennai Insider: Tell us about your team and how did you meet each other?
Urusha: The Paper Dolphin is run by me, Urusha Maher. I handle everything from operations to sales, to delivery. As of now, we don’t have a solid team, but we always recruit interns and designers based on our projects. We find them on Instagram, or in most cases, they find us and reach out. And we’re always happy to have them on board!
Chennai Insider: Where do you see The Paper Dolphin in the next 5 years? What are your goals for your business?
Urusha: We hope to expand a little more in our product range, and put up our products in mainstream stores. Probably have a website too.
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