Things I Can't Live Without: Dominique Schurman
BY John Fried
CEO of Schurman Fine Papers, which makes greeting cards, gift bags, note cards, wrapping paper, and journals and sells them through its Papyrus stores and other retailers.
Annual revenue and employees: $120 million; 1,100. Age and home: 44; Alamo, Calif.
Happy Father's Day: Schurman was a recent college graduate with no intention of going into the family business, an importer of European greeting cards. But then her father, Marcel Schurman, announced plans to retire and sell the company. Dominique convinced him not to, and asked for a chance at taking the helm. "I thought I could add a contemporary twist," she says.
Pushing the envelope: Schurman joined the company in 1982 and quickly pushed to have a line of greeting cards designed in-house. Today, most of the company's cards are made in the U.S. and the greeting card segment represents more than 40% of annual sales. In a few years she became vice president, and when her father finally retired in 1992, Schurman took over as CEO. Since that time, she has increased the number of Papyrus shops to 146 from 37.
E-mail versus paper: "These days we're inundated with impersonal correspondence," says Schurman, who is rarely without her Treo. In her view, e-mail has elevated the impact of paper greetings. "When someone takes the time to write a handwritten note, it speaks loudly in terms of thoughtfulness."
Failed greetings: Papyrus has dabbled at cards for small occasions like Boss's Day and Sweetest Day, but Schurman has decided to leave most of the niche business to the big greeting card companies. "We're trying to create a different experience," says Schurman, "to keep it special by offering people a little luxury." She takes a hands-on role in creating that experience, signing off on every card and design that the company produces and even writing an occasional greeting card.
Milou Ket Trend Book, $1,200
"This is a preview of where colors and textures are going, so we can stay ahead."
Tuong ot Toi chili sauce, $3
"My mother's German, and everything we ate growing up was bland. I put this on everything now."
New Balance 856 running shoes, $96
"Good ideas come to me while I'm running. Plus, it gives me time to decompress."
... and What I Covet
Condominium at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New Work City, $10 million
"I love the energy of New York. A home near Central Park would be the perfect blend of being in the heart of this dynamic city with the calming influence and beauty of the park."