THOMPSON INFLUENCERS X CHANDRA GREER
Chandra Greer is owner of Greer, Chicago’s coolest stationery store. In 2007, she left a high-powered career in advertising to channel her creative energy into something more personally fulfilling. From that mission, Greer emerged. Named one of Chicago’s Entrepreneurs of 2014 by Crain’s, Chandra is an business owner on a mission to promote civility, thought, appreciation, and beauty in the everyday. A champion of independent stationery and letterpress fabricators, a lover of music and travel, Greer shared some tips on finding beauty in Chicago, the office, and the everyday.
You made a leap from advertising executive to business owner. What piece of advice would you give your former self, starting out?
I went from being a University of Chicago MBA running multi-million-dollar consumer product accounts with teams of people working to ensure success to owning a tiny one-woman operation. I think I initially focused more on scaling my business as fast as I could rather than taking the time to work through the fundamentals of being a retailer and that led to a lot of mistakes. I had no experience in retail, the stationery industry, or small business ownership and, apart from branding, creative development, and strategic thinking, had little to no knowledge of the basics necessary to manage my business. So my advice to myself would be go work in a stationery store, study the industry, and realize how much you have to learn because very little of what you’ve done is transferable to your new reality. I would also tell myself focus most on what you love because if you love it from a pure and deep place, other people will too.
The world would be a more beautiful place if __
We all acted from a place of love and creativity rather than fear and diminishment.
Tell us a few stationery companies we should have on our radar.
My personal favorites are those stationers who create with aesthetic or intellectual authenticity, or both. Some companies that best fit that for me are Moglea, Hightide, Party of One Paper, Postalco, Poem Press, Oblation Papers and Press, Ghost Academy, The Great Lakes, Mr. Boddington’s Studio, Set Editions, and Poketo.
What’s your favorite view in Chicago?
The cityscape view from the Lake Shore Drive Bridge over the Chicago River looking west, especially at night. Whenever I drive over that bridge I’m overcome by the magnitude and good fortune of living in this city. I’m also the person who’s annoyingly slowing down in the middle of traffic.
What are three items that can make a positive difference to an office that people might overlook?
I think three items that can elevate any office are well-made and aesthetically pleasing desk implements such as a beautiful pair of scissors, inspirational art on the walls, and a substantial note pad that becomes a pleasing daily companion.