PaperwolfsShop – Paperwolf The Original since 2010

Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Paperwolf is my label under which I design and sell 3D papercraft templates. Mostly animal trophies, but also postcards as well as big and small paper sculptures. My real-life name is Wolfram Kampffmeyer. I’m German, born 38 years ago. I’ve studied Computer Animation at Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany. Computer Animation often starts with creating a virtual 3D model. PAPERWOLF takes over from here and creates a papercraft model out of it 🙂

What are your responsibilities as a business owner?

I’m a one-man-show, so I do everything from designing, customer support, fulfilling the orders. In times of Christmas, this is a bit stressful, but usually, I manage everything without problems. Stocking up material, optimize the production process, create new designs. Do everything to keep my customers happy.

The Paper Wolf. Sitting Wolf by Paperwolf. Friendly, child-friendly paper sculpture
SMALL Dragon - Papercraft Kit
Santaclaus DIY papercraft kit on Flyer, Saint Nicholas Paperwolf Postcard Size 210x105mm

What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?

My all-time best sellers are the Fox, the Flight of Birds, and the Wolf. Designing process: I start with research. Often, it’s just images and videos I find on the internet to get the character of a certain animal right. Sometimes it’s better to watch the live animal in the zoo. When I think I have understood the core (the typical attributes or character) of the animal, I start modeling in my 3D package, do more research and finally decide it’s time to make it on the paper. I build my prototype model, improve it here and there and when I’m satisfied, I take product pictures, design the instructions, and put it online. When designing an animal, I always aim for the best compromise between maximum detail and the number of pieces you’ll have to glue together. It’s very important for me to have my sculptures appear as lively as possible. By choosing an interesting and vivid pose, my aim is to show the essence of the animal. I love how the light plays off the faces of the geometry if lit by a direct light source.

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?

Since I opened up a new niche in 2010, it didn’t feel like diving into the competitive market and need a marketing strategy. Everything grew naturally until 2014 when my business went through the ceiling. Then all those copycats popped up since they learned that you can earn money with paper sculptures. This felt a bit unfair since many of them just copied my ideas, animals, even color combinations – and sometimes even my name (with slight variations). But I kept being creative, came up with completely new designs, kept up my quality and best customer support. And it paid off: I have hundreds of positive, exciting reviews, I do custom designs, also for big companies and advertisement projects. I love creating new stuff, follow my ideas. Sometimes completely new projects like my fully working PaperOrgan which I’ve funded via Kickstarter in 2019 and got into serial production. And new projects are in the making!

Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?

I only sometimes learn who my customers are, when they get in touch with me, send me their favorite pictures of their paper animals in their house.
I don’t do much marketing since I learned that you can pay thousands of euros to Facebook or Instagram and only receive fake followers and hardly any measurable success. So I guess my business is known through the word of mouth.

Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?

Don’t try to find out what “the marked needs” and make a product out of this. My biggest success was whenever I created something I really loved. The animals I loved most grew to be bestsellers (like the Fox and the Flight of Birds). Probably because if you do what you like and you’re best in, customers see it’s authentic and made with love.

What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?

When people started copying my work in 2014. It took me years to overcome this unfair theft of ideas. But I continued being creative and came up with new ideas.

What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?

Where does my inspiration come from? I’d love to answer with the cliché “in the shower” – well, sometimes I really get new ideas when taking a shower. When hot water is pattering on my head, all other noises and distractions vanish and suddenly pictures or sculptures appear in front of my closed eyes. I guess, usually, I’m under a constant stress level which prevents me from getting new ideas (Computer Animation and Paperwolf easily keep me busy 7 days a week, 12 hours a day) and when I’m relaxing (may it be under the shower or on rare vacations), new ideas come to my mind. Then I HAVE to bring a new idea to life. It’s an urge and I can’t wait to find free time to get started.

Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?

Since most of my products can be shipped flat in an A4 sized envelope, even international shipping fees are not too much. So yes, I ship worldwide.
Usually, I ship the day after the order. Shipping times within Germany are just 1-2 days. Within Europe around 1 week. Rest of the world 2-5 weeks. During Covid-19 and Christmas season there are serious delays, especially within the USA.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?

Do what you love. Do what you can do best. Take any opportunity (Interview request, emails). And hope for happy coincidences 🙂

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?

Do what you love. Do what you can do best. Take any opportunity (Interview request, emails). And hope for happy coincidences 🙂

How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?

Enough money not to starve and pay your bills. Have the freedom (money-wise and time) to test out new products and ideas. Being able to be creative.

Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?

I don’t have problems with procrastination. I always work as if I don’t have much time. Because it’s always possible that the next order comes right in the next minute. Or that I have to do another animation job tomorrow. So if I’m done with everything, no problem. THEN I can rest. Or… create this other thing which was waiting in my head…

How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?

I don’t. I just do what I want, let my ideas out. And if it’s working – fine. If not – then it was a personal project which I wanted to do anyway.

Postcard Snow Hare, little snow bunny on a card. mini papercraft kit. Postcard Size 210x105mm
Paper Trophy Elephant, The Big Five, Papercraft, faux trophy, 3D Puzzle diy
Jumping Jaguar, half out of the wall, papercraft kit designed by Paperwolf. Unique design piece for your home

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

I just let it grow and was happy if more customers came in. I’m no manager or marketing expert, so I don’t try to influence my business with this.

 

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