Interview with Paper and Word founder and CEO, Abby Munro

Posted on June 10 2024

Today I’m interviewing our founder and CEO, Abby Munro, about her business Paper and Word. Abby is not only a business owner, but also a woman who has carved the way for her business, a mum who is setting an amazing example for her son and a big reader! 

Paper and Word started as a company selling luxury handmade book sleeves with new designs dropping every month. Now in 2024, Abby has grown her business into much more than this, not only has the size range expanded to fit tech from laptops to the Nintendo Switch, but we’ve also recently expanded our online shop. From Notion Templates to stationery items, tote bags and more, Paper and Word has taken a huge leap this year. 

So let’s chat with Abby about everything she’s achieved to get to this point and what she’s learnt along the way. 


Beth: Paper and Word has been doing incredibly well for five years now - tell us more about the recent changes and how/why they came about.

Abby: Thank you! We have definitely been doing well since we began. I think one of the luxuries of having your own business is that when you have an idea - you can just run with it. I’d started to get an itch about a year ago that I wanted to do more than book sleeves, but I really wanted to make sure whatever we offered was to the same high quality. I also didn’t want to add more pressure to the team by growing our handmade products range! 

I began dreaming about all of my favourite bookish businesses and how cool it would be to get everything in one place. I also took inspiration from book subscription boxes… but having had many of these personally before, I know how quickly the unwanted bits can accumulate! This was my answer to that - all of the great bookish and cosy gaming products from other amazing small businesses across the globe! It’s particularly great to be able to offer certain brands like Strapsicle, Unicorn Eclipse and more within the UK.


 Beth: Do you have a favourite new product?

Abby: SUCH a hard question!! I think my current favourite is either the bingo to do list pad, or the lilac Strapsicle. Ask me again tomorrow and my answer will be different…


Beth: We’ve been working as a team to change up the content and photography style too - how do you feel about that now it’s live?

Abby: Honestly I feel out of my comfort zone! We’d got stuck in a (very beautiful) rhythm of more professional looking photography and animations, and it was so easy to stick to that! But all of these changes felt like they needed more. We needed lifestyle photography, we needed more ‘making’ action and behind the scenes. I’d gotten so caught up in making things look perfect that it had kind of sucked the life out of us a little and made it a stress to post on socials. It’s still settling in, but I love the new photography and content we’re creating! I also need to credit Liam and you here - as I feel like I am very much the little cog!


Beth: How do you stay on top of everything you need to do for Paper and Word? You balance so much and with the recent move to a new website and the release of brand new products, a lot is going on!

Abby: Woof. I’m not sure I do a brilliant job at it, but I guess everything does get done! Firstly I use Notion for everything. I’m neurodivergent and if I don’t write it down I won’t remember it and it won’t happen. During big launches I set up a new Notion page that I can just throw everything in without disrupting the usual spaces we work from. I then choose a bunch of tasks per day and chip away, whilst delegating any that I could to others

I also made a plan with my partner Liam before we began. We knew I would struggle with the extra workload (including mentally!), so we looked at areas where we could get help, or had to just suck up the temporary sacrifice, and how he could lessen the burden as much as possible.

It’s a struggle though! I’m not great at getting the balance right, so I always feel like something is suffering so another can thrive. 


Beth: I think we all empathise with that! So how do you manage the work vs life balance; being a mum, gardening, reading? Especially with your studio being based in your home. 

Abby: Honestly, it’s a struggle. It’s actually a big part of why we have changed the business in the way we have. I work too much, yet I still don’t often feel like I am concentrating on the right things. A lot of working IN the business instead of ON it! 

One big area that this is a glaring problem is around the amount of hours I spend making. So we’ve changed the team a little and introduced the new products, so that we can see-saw some growth across the bought in products and handmade sides of the business, without it impacting me and my life so much. 

Aside from that, it’s a lot of multitasking! Audiobooks whilst I sew, splitting the pre-school drop-off, gardening during my lunch etc. There’s a lot of pros and cons to working from home, but currently it’s mostly pros. There’s no commute, and I get to hang the washing out in the afternoon with a cup of coffee!


Beth: On the days when you’re feeling overwhelmed and low on motivation, what keeps you going? And what tips do you have for any fellow business owners feeling the same?

Abby: The best thing I’ve done over the last year is give myself permission to work differently. Yes my plan for that day might be to do Task X, but if I just can’t bring myself to do it I will pick another task that is more enjoyable or might flow more freely. In the past I would have beaten myself up and forced through the first task terribly, but now I just come back to it another time or day so I can tick off a fun task instead.

Days that I feel overwhelmed are harder. First off I will make sure I have water and a nice drink on my desk. I’ll then reach for a CBD gummy and put my phone in focus mode. I like to step away from the desk for a moment to try to clear my head a little, and figure out what is essential for that moment or that day. If I can, I’ll also talk it out with Liam or you. Sometimes even saying things out loud is enough to calm the overwhelm!


Beth: What is your favourite part about running your own business?

Abby: The work freedom! Every day I can choose what to do and there is (usually) no one checking up on me for anything. I am always looking for fixes, improvements or the next project, and I can indulge in this to my heart's content. It’s also really wonderful to feel like I have more control if something in life ever feels out of control. If we have a huge unexpected bill, there is a way we can quickly get extra money in. Or if there is a personal schedule change, I can just figure it out, being my own boss!


Beth: If you could have a magic spell to do one area of the business for you in seconds, what would it be?

Abby: Product descriptions and SEO! I loathe writing product descriptions. That or all of the sleeve making! I’d love to snap my fingers and the month’s collection is made and ready.


Beth: You’ve had a busy week, business is thriving and the sun is shining. How is your weekend looking? Do you find it easy to take breaks or do you find yourself still thinking about work/doing little tasks over the weekend? 

Abby: My weekend will probably start off with a trip to the supermarket to fuel the weekend and lunches for the upcoming week (we use Hello Fresh for evening meals - another way we can claw back some time!). After that we’re packed up in the car and off to a National Trust spot to run around in the fresh air. The other day is usually spent doing some chores, tootling in the garden and meeting friends down at our local for a pint of whatever’s new on tap!


Beth: Finally, can you give us a sneak peek into the future of Paper and Word? What are you excited about for the rest of the year?

Abby: We have just placed our biggest order ever with a small business we have been desperate to stock! This whole idea stemmed with them at the forefront, so I’m incredibly excited for the pallet to arrive so I can share the news and celebrate! We’ve also got some really fun Christmas plans afoot, and the cosiest collection you could ever imagine for autumn that includes an incredible local ceramicist!


 • The Paper and Word Team •