Bess Paper Goods' pink paper poppies
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Bess Paper Goods & Gifts, Reading

Kristin Joiner sells a variety of upbeat and beautiful handprinted and handmade items at her store near Cincinnati.

Kristin Joiner fell in love with the letterpress class she took in college. The printing method inspired her so much, she located an old press about 45 minutes away, bought the several-hundred-pound machine and named it “Bess.”

After a summer of restoring and cleaning, she began printing wedding invitations, greeting cards and business cards on nights and weekends. In 2014, she quit her day job to go full time with her letterpress business. Six years later, she found a storefront in Reading and opened to the public in December 2020.

Today, Bess Paper Goods & Gifts is brimming with handmade works, ranging from paper bouquets and succulents to quirky coasters and polymer-clay earrings to go with Joiner’s line of predesigned and custom wedding items and upbeat greeting cards. Before she even had the shop, she launched a service that ships a curated bundle of paper goods to her subscribers each month.   

“Sometimes I send bookmarks, sometimes I send gift tags, sometimes it’s these little wine tags,” Joiner says. “It’s always a good assortment of greeting cards, then a couple little extra things.”

Except for the pens she sells, everything is made at the shop, and now that she has a space where customers can gather, Joiner is eager to offer paper-flower, polymer-clay and hand-lettering classes. 

“I’m always sharing what I do, how I think about things, how these things are made, why I do them,” she says. “I love chatting about crafty stuff with crafty people.”

When she evaluates what her customers might want next, Joiner says she just imagines what she would want to purchase walking into a vibrant shop like hers, and she gives special attention to the details that go into each item. 

“The flowers are beautiful, the cards are beautiful,” Joiner says. “But once you know that it’s printed on a 139-year-old machine by hand with hand-mixed ink and antique type and all of this stuff, it makes it more special.”

321 W. Benson St., Reading 45215, 513/748-6955, besspapergoods.com

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