Jackie Treitz left her dream job in magazine publishing to pursue her own business. In 2014, she launched The Paper Bakery, a design collective that creates logos, style guides, pitch decks, social templates, business cards and custom stationery. She also creates websites for clients, using Wix.
Her pivot paid off. Jackie’s branding prowess shines on Netflix’s Motel Makeover, a female-led renovation show that follows besties and moteliers Sarah Sklash and April Brown as they flip a rundown motel.
In this installment of In Conversation, Wix sits down with Treitz to discuss all things branding. When we first met over Zoom, we jokingly asked her if she was using a Zoom background, quickly realizing her beautifully designed home is, in fact, real. Ahead, Treitz shares her approach to branding trends, the “new shape” of work and more.
When were you first interested in design?
Treitz: I started developing my aesthetic from a very young age and always knew that I needed to create. Growing up, I was constantly decorating my bedroom and moving my furniture around (which drove my mom crazy). I’m pretty sure I was the only kid in elementary school reading (my stepfather’s) Architectural Digest magazines. I even had my own dream home binder with clippings and ripped photos from House and Home magazine. There was no Pinterest or Instagram, so this was an ongoing hobby that nourished my hunger for all things design.
Later, I went to Humber College in Ontario, Canada for their renowned interior design program, which I quickly learned was too math-heavy for my liking. I left the program and went back to school for fashion marketing and merchandising.
After trying my hand in the fashion world, I realized my real passion was in publishing. I landed an internship at St. Joseph Media (Wish Magazine) and I’ll never forget seeing my name on the masthead for the very first time. I felt so proud holding a physical copy of my first issue. I wanted more, and I eventually landed my dream job at Canadian House & Home magazine, where I worked my way up in the art department. A few years later, I met my husband, moved to LA and started working at C magazine.
Since both my parents are entrepreneurs, I always knew I wanted to start my own business, but I never knew what that looked like until I designed our own wedding invitations and planned all the details of our big day—which eventually inspired me to leave my job at C Magazine. I started The Paper Bakery in 2014, exclusively designing wedding invitations and personalized stationery. Over the last 7 years, it’s organically evolved into a boutique branding studio for smaller start-ups.
How did you come up with your business name, The Paper Bakery?
Treitz: I was newly pregnant and had just quit my job at C Magazine to go out on my own. I had a 9-month window to get my business off the ground, and this was my shot. I was on a flight from LA to Toronto and had some time to brainstorm, so I took out my trusty Moleskine notebook and jotted down every idea that came to mind.
I wrote down everything that I loved and inspired me. I’ve always been a sucker for paper goods—particularly stationery and magazines—and pastries (ask any of my friends, and they’ll tell you that I live for chocolate). I liked the idea of naming my company something that embodied these passions but wasn’t too obvious. To this day, some people still ask if I own a bakery, but I kind of love that.
What has been your biggest challenge since you started your own business?
Treitz: Learning how to be unapologetically myself and confident in my decisions.
This means trusting myself enough to be direct with my clients, even if it doesn’t align with their original vision. At the end of the day, my job is to guide them in what I feel is the right direction for their brand.
I’m also learning that I can't say yes to every opportunity, and that’s OK. I’ve realized that I’m much more valuable to my clients when I stay true to my design aesthetic, and besides, isn't that why they hired me in the first place?
How did you come up with the brand identity for The June Motel?
Treitz: I’ll never forget, Sarah and I were out for dinner, and she told me she bought a motel—I think I just about spit the wine out of my mouth. I had recently started The Paper Bakery, and she asked if I would do their branding. At the time, I don’t think any of us had any idea what we were getting ourselves into.
Aside from being badass entrepreneurs and DIY queens, Sarah and April know their brand voice and target market better than anyone. They have such a strong vision, which makes my job a lot easier. When they came to me and said they wanted to be a retro motel with good wine and good vibes, I knew right away we were going to work well together.
Creating The June Motel brand identity was a collaborative process, I loved turning Sarah and April’s Pinterest board visions into a reality that speaks to their brand at every level. We definitely challenge each other creatively, even if it means a few extra iterations to get the brand manifesto right.
For example, a typical workflow with my clients would be presenting a variety of fonts, brand colors, logos etc., and then going through a process of elimination to narrow them down. When building the logo for The June Motel, we worked extensively to find the perfect typeface and then further manipulated the “J” to what has now become so recognizably theirs. Anytime you see that J, you know it’s The June.
What top 3 branding tips would you give a new business owner?
Treitz: Build a strong foundation. Don’t cut corners and take the right steps from the beginning. Do your research, develop a brand strategy, figure out what your brand values are and which customers they speak to. What does your voice sound like? This is the hardest part, but when you give it the time and respect it deserves, the result is something beautiful.
Don’t rush the process. Let it happen organically. Business owners often skip over these steps to get things up and running and start making a profit, but they almost always end up creating more work for themselves later. Save yourself the time, money and energy by thinking it through from the get-go. Even if it means waiting a bit longer than you anticipated, your business will thank you.
Consistency is key. Repetition and consistency make for a strong brand identity. You want a well-established brand voice, and you want people to hear it loud and clear.
How do you generate new ideas?
Treitz: I’m a very visual person, so I love to go down the Pinterest rabbit hole and get lost in all the beauty. For me, inspiration always comes from the world around me —traveling, experiencing different cultures and what influences them, flipping through a magazine (I still find the tactile quality of books and magazines special). Even something as simple as a seasonal bouquet of flowers can lead to an idea. I once designed a letterpress wedding invitation for a client, and the entire concept was based off of a single Moroccan tile. Inspiration is everywhere.
“This means training your eye to see things in different ways, which can be challenging since we’re inundated with imagery, and it can cloud your brain. Social media is so guilty of showing us what we think we want—we forget to take a step back and get a clean and fresh perspective.”
What do you think will be the next branding trends?
Treitz: Anything immersive or interactive. Right now, it’s all about creating a moment through curated experiences. Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something, so finding creative ways to let your customer in helps them to feel involved, like you’re giving them a piece of the pie—they now play a role in your brand and can feel proud of that.
Everything old is new again. Just like everything in fashion, branding trends are cyclical and certain designs always come back in style. By going back to a specific decade or cultural influence and modernizing it, we can give it a fresh face, ultimately making it relatable for our generation of consumers.
For example, by breathing new life into these old, rundown properties, The June Motel created something magical. Together, we’ve built a strong and memorable brand umbrella using color, typography, patterns, imagery etc. and a language that is so undeniably theirs. Special touches like neon signs, custom-wallpaper, door hangers and mugs are the things that people remember. They are moments, and meaningful ones at that.
Regardless of your industry, always make sure that your visual identity aligns with your core brand values.
When I think about the future of The Paper Bakery, I most definitely see growth. I’d love to become a household name—still figuring out what that looks like, but something to the likes of Magnolia or McGee and Co. Or who knows, maybe I’ll open an actual bakery someday. I have always wanted to take a cake decorating class.