She’s Got Papers is a line of stationery like no other. It’s edgy and inspiring, but most importantly, it’s created by someone who knows her stuff, knows where she came from and knows where she’s going. After becoming pregnant with her first child at age 19, Tanea Smith had to change the script. Fast.
So while her son slept, Smith taught herself how to type. But after entering a regular 9-to-5 job in the corporate world, the Brooklynite found herself dreaming of rewriting her story with a different theme. This time she went to her roots.
As a child, Smith said, she loved to write. Smith would often write and perform plays, and even had aspirations of being an actress.
While on maternity leave in 2007 with her second child, she had an idea to create a line of stationery inspired by her life.
“I knew I didn’t want to do any traditional stationery, because I felt like the market had already been so saturated with happy-birthday greetings and congratulations and things like that. So I thought the best way to make my collection stand out would be to do something based on my life experiences.”
In one of Smith’s card collections, she created a card depicting her struggle with weight gain after the birth of her second child, Jada Jasmine. On the “Perfect Proportion” card is a picture of a mannequin wrapped in a long spiral of measuring tape. The card reads, “Just as I am.”
Tanea told the Amsterdam News that the card was created “after huffing and heaving on my treadmill.” Smith said, “I got in the shower and was like, ‘the hell with this.’ I got out, called my husband and said, ‘Bring me a pint of Baskin Robbins on the way home.’ “
“So,” she said, “I thought that it would be really smart to put something like this on a piece of stationery. Not that you don’t see them in the marketplace, but I knew you didn’t see anything that dealt with it honestly and specifically. Most cards you see about weight are jokes, and mine are pretty much a proclamation.”
Then there’s the card inspired by Smith’s aunt who got a divorce and the one for her girlfriend who owns a dance studio. And another inspired by her teenage son, Brandon, called “Learner’s Permit.” This message, structured like the Miranda rights, is on a magnet. But instead of saying, “You have the right to remain silent,” it reads, “You have a right to become brilliant! You have the right to seek knowledge and to use your mind to change the world.”
In addition to Smith’s passion for designing stationery, Smith also spreads her words of inspiration to others. Smith, 37, often receives emails from people across the country thanking her for her messages of inspiration. Smith also travels to colleges and conferences speaking to young people and women in the tristate area.
Smith said the message she loves the most on some of her cards is “Walking the walk is the hardest part” and “We’re all a work in progress.”
“Through connecting and sharing my story is how we begin to feel human again, and humanize these issues,” she said.
To check out Smith’s stationery, visit her online boutique at www.shesgotpapers.com. Follow her on Twitter at @inspiredbysgp and visit her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shesgotpapers.