We met Neesha Merani in person a few months back (She's a Bay Area Gal too!) and we were immediately taken with her whimsical artistic flair. She definitely brings the magic to all she does. Scroll down to read more about Neesha and her magical company, Paper Wand.
Do you know what else is magical? Receiving 3 months of KidArtLit! Enter to win the KidartLit 3 Month Subscription giveaway here.
Introducing Neesha Merani of Paper Wand
Hi, I’m Neesha Merani and I am an illustrator, designer and business owner. I live, work and dream in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Tell us a bit about your childhood:
One of my earliest and favorite memories is talking to my father about happiness and the purpose of life. Although at the time I might have been six or seven years old, I still recall his answer to this day. When I asked him what made him happy, he said “I like to make others happy.” He found joy and contentment when those he cared about were happy. He was always and still is an example of generosity. Not just generous with physical things, but so selfless in giving his time and energy to those around him. I grew up seeing how making others happy was truly fulfilling. I also saw that the best gift you can ever give anyone is your time. I am also fortunate to have parents who encouraged my creativity. I felt free to dream and imagine and get lost in my own world. I was often told, I had my head in the clouds. Let me tell you, those cotton-candy clouds are still one of my favorite places to visit.
How do you start your mornings?
My mornings usually start with coffee… it’s what makes the difference in me being “Mama Bear” or “Mama Bird”. Coffee is always a good idea. I generally wake up pretty early because I like to get up before my household wakes up. That quiet peaceful morning start is what sets the tone for my day. I can enjoy my coffee hot, and either get in some studio time, or office work started. Even though I’m naturally a night owl, motherhood has made me a morning person, out of necessity… hence the caffeine craving
Where did the idea for your business come from?
Although I have a degree in Art & Design from CalPoly, and have over ten years of graphic design experience, I have always known I wanted my own business one day. I’ve explored many ideas over the years, including jewelry design, ceramics, candle making and mural painting. I must own at least twenty different website names… all possible ideas, and many potential starts. However, PaperWand has become my most authentic expression. My love of creativity, imagination and re-discovering the magic & whimsy of childhood has a home here. I wanted a place where I could share my art, my journey as a mother, and also find a way to connect kindness, empathy and gratitude through my work.
Where do you find inspiration?
My children are a big source of inspiration. The way they see the world without limits or judgments fills me with endless creative ideas. We all start this way, and somewhere on the path, we are told to “grow-up”. I believe that you can grow without losing that sense of wonder. This is my North Star. My mission. At my core I want to believe in the good in everyone, take care of the Earth and each other -- To Never Stop Making & Believing. When my time is done here, and I’m gone, I want to know that I did my part to leave a planet and home that’s better for my kids, and for all children.
Do you have any special projects you are working on? If so, please can you tell us what they are?
I recently released a passion project through KickStarter, called: Celebrate Wonder™ - The Art Journal Keepsake. This idea was born out of a need to contain my kids artwork and find ways to capture the precious childhood moments we shared. As any parent knows, the paper clutter can add up fast and I didn’t see a solution in the marketplace that worked for what I needed, especially for very young kids. This was a case of “create the thing you wish existed”. Once I had an idea of my solution, this dream project was released and I’m happy to see so many kids and their grown-ups enjoying and treasuring their creative time together. My web site has more information; this journal will soon be available from Amazon. I am currently developing an online watercolor painting workshop, releasing later this year. For now, you can join the painting fun with my thirty day watercolor challenge. It’s free, on my Instagram and running for the month of September.
Do you have any advice for those who may just be starting out in the world of entrepreneurship?
With any business idea, it’s always smart to start small and simple. Before I launched the Celebrate Wonder™ Art Journal, I made beta versions, tested the idea out with actual families and made sure to get a ton of feedback first. Sometimes it’s really hard to stay patient when your dreams are big and you want them to be here, and exist right now. Remember, that it’s okay to fail. The trial and error process is a beautiful gift. When you know the things that don’t work, you get closer to creating what will work. Much of the journey is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. You’re planting seeds, and some ideas take longer to grow. Give yourself and your ideas the time they need to be fully ready. Also, seek out business mentors and friends. It’s really important to find your “village”. Solo-entrepreneurship can have lonely days and we all need support and encouragement no matter where we are on our journey.
What makes your heart sing? Lifts you up? Makes you feel content? Or just makes you happy to be alive?
Hands down the day I became a mother, I felt my heart and purpose in ways I didn’t know could exist. It was quite literally a transformation of mind and body. This mama-role will always be my priority, it’s what drives me everyday to be the best version of myself. Especially on hard days, when I’ve just got too much to juggle, it’s my kids that remind me that perfection is not the goal. They don’t care if the clothes are neatly folded and color coordinated… they care that I spend time with them. They also need to see me being kind to myself. Not judging myself… and admitting if I mess up. Maybe, that day, I need a Mama-time out (likely hiding in the pantry eating chocolate). We are human, and none of us ever have it all together all the time. These moments and reminders of what’s really important in life are what lift me up. The release of perfection, and the embracing of the little joys. I am so grateful I get to be a Mama to these amazing little humans, who more often than not, end up being my teachers…. They are my examples of everything good and meaningful.
What are some of your favorite blogs, books, IG accounts?
Online: Blacksburgbelle - I found my creative village through April Bowles-Olin, who runs Blacksburgbelle and SundaySociety. When I first started out I didn’t know any other creative business owners in my local life, and having a community of other creative entrepreneurs has been a life-saver. I have met so many amazing women through this group; many have become my friends. No one achieves anything alone, and this group is the definition of “A rising tide, lifts all boats.” IG: @flora.forager: A stunning and super creative way at looking at our natural world. This account is full of inspiration and beauty. @TheHomeEdit : This is pure eye-candy for my label happy heart. My house does not look like this.. But, one can dream. Books? Hahahaha - (I dream of the day I can sit long enough to read an actual book) But, I do listen to Books or Podcasts; Usually in the car in-between kid pick-ups and drop-offs… Or, while I’m working in my studio. Last Audible Book: Essentialism. Great read (or listen) about eliminating the unnecessary and being intentional with the things you do and/or let into your life. Podcast: Marie Forleo: Biz Advice Gold. Shows: Ellen : Ellen is my go-to for a laugh and a reminder of seeing the good in the world. She finds the most incredible people, who are doing amazing work and living with positivity and purpose… it’s so inspiring. Local: More recently I have met and connected with other local Biz Owners like KidArtLit! (Hi Ladies!) This business is doing such amazing work and putting together beautiful kid books and creative activities together. Just Brilliant! iHeartArtStudio - A local art studio run by two former pre-school teachers with a passion for kids and creativity. I occasionally teach art workshops here and I just adore the community growing here. @whatsupmoms: A moms-run business showing the humorous, unfiltered side of motherhood.