Rooted in Sustainability: The Origins & Growth of Botanical PaperWorks

From the beginning, Botanical PaperWorks has been a company on a mission to reduce waste. Sustainability was core to the business back then and continues to motivate us today. Read on to learn the company story from the early days to where we are today.

Planting The Seeds

Believe it or not, Botanical PaperWorks started in the classroom. At the time, Heidi Reimer-Epp’s mother, Mary Reimer, was an elementary school teacher. This was before large recycling efforts to reduce waste. Looking at all the unnecessary waste, Mary found a way to incorporate papermaking into her language arts curriculum. The students made their own paper and bound it into books to fill with their poems and stories.

Mary and Heidi holding up handmade paper wedding programs.

While creating handmade school projects, Heidi got engaged. They decided to use handmade paper for the wedding programs and they were highly praised. This sparked an idea for a mother-daughter business venture. They wondered if they could turn handmade paper into a profitable business.

To get the ball rolling, Mary and Heidi devised a plan to visit five stores to pitch their products. All five stores placed an order, and the handmade paper business was off to an exciting start. It was time to go all in to see if they could make it work.

The Early Years

After Heidi left her corporate job to fully commit to the new venture, the business gained momentum. What began with makeshift papermaking setups on the dining table and in the basement soon evolved into a dedicated second-floor space on Portage and Smith. There, amidst the hustle and bustle, they persisted in their craft of paper-making, flourishing in their new location.

Then, one day, a very exciting email came through their inbox. It was from a publishing company looking for an author to write a book about paper making. With excitement, they accepted and started the journey to becoming published authors. 

Papermaking recipe book with paper samples

The book concept was to create 300 papermaking recipes. And so it began. The meticulous records of recipes and trial and error led them to their biggest discovery yet.

Heidi and Mary experimented with various botanical elements such as grasses and flower petals. Eventually, they decided to try adding seeds to the handmade paper, and that was when the seed paper story began. Everyone loved the idea so the company’s focus shifted. They rebranded the business as a seed paper company.

With all the support and interest, the next step was to launch the Botanical PaperWorks website and grow the catalog. The seeds were starting to sprout. 

Nurturing the Growth

The next few years were full of growth as the company moved locations into our current spot in Winnipeg’s Exchange District. During this time, we brought on a production manager, grew our marketing and sales teams, and began selling worldwide. The product line was also growing with new business promotions, a wide range of seed paper colors, dozens of wedding collections, and more.

The success of the business catapulted and the company was focused on bringing its unique products to business by tapping into the promo industry. That’s when we joined the Promotional Product Professionals of Canada and eventually, other promo associations including ASI and SAGE.

During these years, the team won many awards including for a Herb Matchbook Promotion and Seed Paper Money Bill Promotion.

Maturing the Garden

This leads us into 2019, a big year for us when it comes to sustainability as it was the year we became Climate Smart Certified. What does that mean? Being Climate Smart Certified allows us to track and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, consider things like our utilities, waste, and shipping, and find ways to improve our current systems. Becoming Climate Smart was an amazing step for us as a sustainable-focused company. 

Following our Climate Smart Certification, we realized we were outgrowing our space yet again. Our team was growing alongside the business. We started discussing what expanding would look like, and it was then that our landlord approached us to let us know that the space directly next door was opening. What perfect timing! We were so happy, as the East Exchange of Winnipeg was our home for 11 years, and we were so glad to stay.

We were expanding in more ways than one. It was time to further grow sales in Europe and the UK which led us to exhibit at trade shows in Germany and the UK. It also meant we needed a new multicurrency website. That’s when we started a rebrand and eventually launched a brand new website.

When Botanical PaperWorks first came onto the scene, we mainly sold retail stationery. Now, we serve many markets, such as weddings, memorials, and the promotional products industry. Creating a brand identity and website that conveyed that and keeping it aligned with who we are was important to us. 

In 2020, Botanical PaperWorks also officially became a Women Business Enterprise by the Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Canada’s largest third-party certifier of women-owned and operated businesses. Being a women-founded and women-led business was not new to us, but the certification was an important step to share that with the world.

Planting New Blooms

From then to now, there has been new growth in our garden. Both from our team and in our sustainable product lines. We developed and launched handmade soap, hand-poured candles, and then promotional gift kits.

Stack of private label handmade soaps

The Botanical PaperWorks journey exemplifies the power of passion, innovation, and sustainability driving success. The company’s evolution, marked by milestones such as expanding product lines, winning awards, and achieving certifications, reflects its dedication to growth and excellence.

As Botanical PaperWorks continues to flourish both in its physical space and market reach, its unwavering focus on sustainability and female entrepreneurship inspires businesses everywhere. With each step forward, Botanical PaperWorks nurtures its growth and cultivates a greener, more sustainable future for generations to come.

Follow our story on social media to see where we go next!


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