I'm stationery obsessed and there's not a lot I can do about it. It's too easy to justify spending money on - journals help organise, embellish, and brighten life, and the act of journalling is the best companion to have with you while the sun rises, and one of the greatest pals to have nearby when you are overwhelmed or sad. I first had an excess of notebooks when I was four, and looking at the uneconomical spread of them on my desk, nothing's changed - take away all my shoes, and I won't harm you, but if you come too close to my pink ring binders, your life expectancy may have marginally decreased. Another (less aggressive) thing I like to do is help people, and it turns out that integrating stationery with social impact is a thing - and exactly what Frank Stationery, a New Zealand social enterprise, does everyday. 

The enterprise was founded in 2014 by couple Jess and Jason, two fellow Kiwis who share a passion for stationery and 'giving back' to the locals. For every notebook bought, they give one away to a Kiwi kid in need. There are 155,000 Kiwi kids living in material hardship - 14% of all households - meaning they can't pay for seven of the seventeen essentials for living. Despite the importance of education, school supplies often can't be afforded as other needs, such as food and living costs, are prioritised. Here's the difference: just two weeks ago, Frank gave away 20,000 books to local schools, double their give back this time last year. 

It started because they started thinking. Sparked by watching a documentary on child poverty, Jess recalls: "We started doing investigations into school and education, and talking to teachers and asking them what their struggles were. One thing that came up was a lack of stationery – which excited us because we’ve always been journalists."

Child poverty is a problem, one that is too hard to solve if you stand above it, looking down at all the suffering in the world. You'll never change things by being so overwhelmed that you are stalled, aimless in the action you take. Sift through the sand, and the issue becomes describable in smaller terms, with more direct ways of solving it - lack of adequate stationery is a small in the sight of all poverty, but big for the kid that goes to class without paper to draw the world on. 

The notebooks they make aren't just books, either, they're the result of months of thought, motivated by a philosophy of cultivating authenticity. "A lot stationery that we had experienced was about productivity, and achieving things, which is all great, but in my experience, stationery has always been such a wonderful tool in getting to know who I am, through writing ideas and processing thoughts," she says. Lined pages are wonderful, but their timeless capacity to let you pour your soul upon them, and guide you into greater understanding of who you are is why Frank Stationery press on - and why I'll always be an advocate for pretty pens and paper. 

That’s something we think about a lot – not necessarily 'what can I achieve today,' but 'who can I actually be today' instead.

Both Jess and Jason work full time creating stationery, each mastering the different tasks to be done - Jess does all the design, and Jason handles more of the logistics. Every morning they both do their top three: the three things that they want to get done that day. "Sometimes we’ll talk about what we’re grateful for, that past week or that day, to get us into a different mindset," Jess says. "Then I go to a little office, where I sit doing all the little things, and Jason goes to the warehouse where he packs everything." 

But often success doesn't come without the forerunning act of failure, even when spurred on by good intentions. "When we started Frank, I had zero business experience," says Jess. "My background is graphic design, and even though Jason was running a business at the time, we had never done a product before – that was a massive learning curve. For any small business, the tension points are time, money, and resources, and how to create a product people love – that’s a lot of hard work." 

The worst thing is putting enormous effort into something, and having it come to ruin. Thankfully, Frank stationery has taken off. "We’ve found something that fully utilizes our skills and our passions but also gives back, which is the most wonderful combination of things. We’ve both worked really hard to figure out what our strengthes are, and that’s part of the reason that we chose stationery - this is really authentic to me," says Jess. "Anything we create are genuinely things that I use and need in life - it is such a wonderful place to run a business and create from, because I have endless energy for it." 

We've all had that craving, somewhere inside, to live a meaningful life, and that's why it's cool to see people walking in generosity of spirit, sharing their time, talent, and skill in an economy crammed with self-seekers. It's a conscious decision how we spend our time everyday - "I am very grateful to be doing something we love, that is so authentically us, but also enabling other people to follow their passions," says Jess of their work with Frank. 
Just two weeks ago, we got a message from a girl that is currently going through cancer treatment, and she told us how using our diary helps her get through everyday - the little reflections, the little quotes. She said that sometimes it’s the only thing that gets her through and that’s pretty amazing. 

She's also got some life-changing advice for you, if you're thinking of starting a social enterprise: "You just gotta start. We sat on the idea of Frank stationery for a really long time - a lot of sitting on it and thinking. Also, you don’t know what you don’t know and that’s a really important thing to remember. You have to talk to people, get input, and be humble enough to realize that you hardly know anything. It’s not about feeling inadequate, it’s about knowing who are and growing." So now you're all set, right?

They've got an online store (yay!) so you can start changing lives + online shopping simultaneously, a rare combination that I'll be first to swiftly take advantage of. Their Beautiful Thoughts diary, pictured above, is available here, a powerful tool to help you think positively and live with a thankful heart. OH, and if you feel like following their instagram, you can stalk them here. (Because that's always the first step in assessing if you like somebody.) 

Mads xx

Images courtesy of


  1. Omg I'm a total stationary hound too. Getting an embellished notebook is one of life's highlights! My blog is geekyglassesgirlsite.WordPress. com if you want to take a peek!


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