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Papercraft Miracles

We live in a world rife with technological advances. Our default for media consumption involves cell phones; reading the news or a new book is now a digital experience. Smart Watches and iPhones are go-to gifts for teens and loved ones. Owning the new, nifty gadgets and computers, downsized to fit in our pockets, are common aspirations.

To some, it may be mind-boggling to consider paper gifts as a commodity, but it took all but 30 seconds for Janna Willoughby to transport me to a world of pulp, fiber, and eco-friendly paper art, forgetting about my obsessive use of tech savvy devices.

Her company, Papercraft Miracles is located at 1888 Niagara Street. It is a solar-powered studio abundant with adorable, custom-made decorative papers. Willoughby is also a poet and a musician.

She has a knack for combining her passions.

At the studio, I stared into this piece while Willoughby recited a poem, taking me to a parallel universe of overwhelming anxiety with blood red foot prints and lives lost to gun violence. She believes in creating interactive art that provides the viewer with an experience.

“Words, designs, and images all interact together to make one bigger statement or concept. The viewer doesn’t just look at the painting or hear a poem, they interact with the art, they experience it,” she said.

Willoughby first dabbled in papermaking when she was a kid. Her stepmom purchased a kit, allowing Willoughby to experiment with simple, kid-friendly papermaking methods. It wasn’t until several years later when she discovered this was her passion. Willoughby attended Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and dove into the world of arts. “I wanted to make paper and books that made people happy,” she said.

In 2003, she decided to turn her passion into a career and one year later, she gained momentum. Starting out working from her studio space in her bedroom, she made wedding invitations and wedding books as gifts. From there, she grew a clientele and eventually, she and her husband purchased the building on Niagara Street.

Up against Millennials and Gen Xers who are obsessed with technology, Willoughby was confident that she could make her business grow.

“I told people I wanted to make paper and books and they said ‘you want what?’ At first, they thought I was crazy. They said, ‘no one is going to be writing on paper, everyone will be using their phones, and no one is going to carry around a journal.’ I didn’t believe it, so I kept doing my thing.”

She remained optimistic against the skepticism amongst her peers. “People ask entrepreneurs if they expect to fail. I said no, not at all. It was always my fun side gig; if I make money cool, if I didn’t, I made art and that’s cool too.”

Now a successful business-owner and artists, Willoughby specializes in all sorts of creations: custom paper bouquets, seed bombs, greeting cards, books, up cycled denim paper, and so much more. She also offers corporate gifts, so employers can give their clients or employees plantable, eco-friendly paper that can grow with them.

To see all that Willoughby has to offer, check out her website:

Papercraft Miracles | 1888 Niagara Street | Buffalo, New York 14207 | 716-913-6573 | Facebook

Written by Sara Ali

Sara Ali

Sara is a freelance writer living on Buffalo's West Side. She works full time in human services, part time in freelance, and is currently working towards her endeavor to create a nonprofit focused on telling the stories of the refugee and immigrant communities.

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