Who cares about napkins? Who cares about tiny squares of cut-up tissue paper, designed to throw away, designed for disposal, designed for no other reason than to halfway sanitize the disgusting moments in our lives?
That’s the question I asked myself, time and time again, as I grew up the ubiquitous Napkin Kid (or… NapKid) of Silicon Valley. My parents, good hardworking people, had slowly built up their tiny empire on the backs of custom printed tissue paper, and I stood there, silently scoffing at any attempt they made to make me interested in their “boring” product.
And then I grew up.
Now, my life still revolves around that question… who cares about napkins? Why should anyone care about this throwaway product? Napkins are the hospitality industry’s annoyance, a necessary product, a necessary expense, and… so boring.
And yet… they’re not. And every day, I’m trying to convince the world of what my NapKid self did not understand, of the inherent intrigue and usefulness of this lowly product.
The further I delve into my product, into its nuances, the more fascinated I become. Daily, the prints come in, and I marvel at the detail, the way a piece of paper designed to absorb spills can still hold up to a print job of remarkable detail. I read clever sayings, I marvel at intriguing marketing ideas, I meet all sorts of companies… to the lightbulb company needing a custom beverage napkin, to the group of 80-year-old Texan cowgirls and their custom cattle brand napkin. I see print jobs from the state department and the Monoco consulate. I see countless restaurants, hotels, catering companies, banks, luxury clubs, cruiselines, etc etc… and the endless napkins that accompany them.
I still wonder what the point of the napkin is, but then I remember how, in our world gone digital, paper products are making a comeback… how with every napkin we sell, we’re helping a small business consolidate their marketing budget by utilizing an expense they would be paying for anyway.
Above all, I’m making art. It’s not a glamorous job, it’s far from glitzy and high-tech, but in my small way, maybe I’m helping make the world a bit more beautiful, a bit more interesting.
And that innocuous throw-away product? The tagline, “small canvas, big ideas” has become my mantra.