#TPBTH, Meet: Laura Ellison
Name, craft/industry/blog/passion, most popular handle/website:
Laura Ellison, Raw City Paper – owner & creative producer
rawcitypaper.com / @rawcitypaper
How did you get started?
I have always loved to make things and I’ve known for a long time that I wanted creativity to become more than a hobby in my life. I first started dreaming about the idea of social enterprise and employing women in transition several years ago, but I didn’t start making paper until December of 2014. I fell in love with it and plans for Raw City Paper evolved over the course of 2015, leading me to officially launch in February 2016!
What or who influenced you the most as you were developing your craft?
– The Miriam Collection in Nashville, TN – a social enterprise that was the initial inspiration for my business. They employ local women in transition to make beautiful jewelry
– The Giving Keys – they employ those transitioning out of homelessness
– My dad, who gave me my first paper making tool and started this whole journey
– Kris Westerson, a local artist. She is SO talented, she’s taught me a ton about paper-making and she’s been a huge source of encouragement in my business journey
Why do you love your job?
Raw City Paper isn’t my full-time job (yet), but I love it because I get to practice redemptive creativity – creating something beautiful and useful out of something that would have been wasted. I get to spend time working with my hands and I get to dream about the day when I’ll be able to employ women who are in the process of seeing their brokenness become beautiful.
What inspires you?
Being outside, sunsets and stars, people who trust me enough to let me listen, my parents, having a whole day to just create and figure out how to make stuff by trial and error, people who see purpose in their pain and use their unique stories to live out their passions
5 words that describe who you are:
resourceful, curious, compassionate, hopeful, risk-taker
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?
Probably some sort of artist or a ballerina!
Doing Raw City Paper full-time and being able to sustainably employ women in transition
3 things you aspire to be or do:
I aspire to be courageous, a good listener, and a cheerful & generous giver
(Fill in the blank) I appreciate _______ in my life, because _______.
I appreciate difficult times in my life, because they cause me to see my own weakness and be more dependent on God for strength, purpose, and grace.
What was one of the hardest lessons or toughest obstacles you had to overcome?
One of the hardest, but most rewarding lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) is this: allowing safe people to see me in my weakness, imperfection, and anxiety has led to the most love and genuine encouragement I have ever experienced – instead of the rejection and misunderstanding I so often expect. I have never felt as cared for as I do in this season of life. It is a beautiful, wonderful feeling – and it never comes without the risk of vulnerability.
Advice for someone who is looking to begin a new hobby/job/life pursuit:
It can be a really scary and vulnerable place to be – to pursue something you deeply care about and want to be successful. I’ve been there! But it’s also the most wonderful thing to become more fully who you are, to do the things you were created for, and to serve a need in the world that you are uniquely equipped to fill. It’s worth the risk! And if you’re still searching for your thing, someone once told me that passion is found in what breaks your heart and what makes it race – figure out what that thing is for you. Ask for help, support, feedback, and wisdom from people you trust and respect. Work hard, but also take it one little step at a time and be patient with the process. Don’t forget why you are so passionate – let that be what drives you. Don’t measure your success by other peoples’ standards. Learn to be ok with your idea changing/growing/morphing into something entirely different. Celebrate little successes. Mostly, feel the fear and do it anyway.
Something your followers would be surprised to learn about you:
I love chipmunks with a passion, my favorite word is fluff, I’m 4’11.5″, and I can lick my elbow!
Lasagna & coffee ice cream
I’m a 24/7 water drinker, but I do love to splurge on Root Beer or Malibu & Sprite every now and then!
Oh I have way too many! But my all time favorite just might be “Runaway” by Mat Kearney
“If man really is fashioned, more than anything else, in the image of God, then clearly it follows that there is nothing on earth so near to God as a human being. The conclusion is inescapable, that to be in the presence of even the meanest, lowest, most repulsive specimen of humanity in the world is still to be closer to God than when looking up into a starry sky or at a beautiful sunset.” – Mike Mason