Rhody Maker: Jessie Barber of Pearl Print Co.
Pearl Print Co. dreams up timeless, coastal-inspired stationery patterns and wraps them up in a pretty package—literally.
Jessie Barber, a born-and-raised South County resident, has always harbored a penchant for creativity, though her path towards putting it to good use hasn’t always been clear.
“I actually went to four different colleges to figure out what I wanted to do,” she says with a laugh.
First up was a year at Johnson and Wales’ Providence campus, followed by a year at CCRI. Then she really hit her stride at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, where she earned an associates in textile design.
“It was something totally different that I was interested in,” she recalls. “It was still art, but it involved making patterns and illustration and using that for home décor or clothing. It sounded super interesting to me, and I had always wanted to go to New York.”
After a year in the Big Apple, Barber returned to the Ocean State to complete her bachelor’s degree in textile marketing at the University of Rhode Island. Her hard work paid off, eventually landing her a marketing manager position for the locally renowned interior design firm, Blakely Interior Design. Yet though curating content for the company’s social media and website provides her many opportunities for creativity, Barber found that her free time also called for a creative outlet. So, last May, she decided to establish her very own stationery business dedicated to providing stylish wrapping paper, gift tags and cards.
“I figured this was a good way to use my one-year degree from FIT,” she says. “Plus, I love wrapping gifts and I love hosting; it kind of all just made sense.”
Barber describes her design style as a complementary mix of classic coastal motifs and timeless patterns—the very same aesthetic which also dictates her wardrobe and home décor tastes. When coming up with products, she often finds inspiration from her seaside surroundings in Charlestown as well as from traditional New England vibes. The name of her business follows the same pattern.
“I had ‘Pearl Print’ in my head for a while. Pearls, as a symbol, are classic and beautiful and enduring. And then my boyfriend is an oyster farmer, so I have a connection there,” she explains. “The name just felt right. A lot of my patterns are based on classic gingham and checks and plaids, and it all goes with pearls, too, historically.”
Though she deems it a “side hustle,” Barber puts a lot of thought and time and effort into her Pearl Print Co. designs. Coming up with a new collection and seeing it through to completion can take a couple months at a time between refining the color palettes and patterns and ordering wrapping paper test prints to ensure good quality. Her latest collection release includes four new spring-inspired wrapping paper patterns and five gift tags.
“I always think about whether the new products will go with the existing prints because I want everything to fit my cohesive brand aesthetic. For instance, if you have three gifts, you can use two or three different patterns and they will all go together. And then you can make it fun by mixing and matching the gift tags or incorporating different ribbons,” she says. “When coming up with new collections, I try to keep it all at least within the same color palette and then introduce one different color. Like for Christmas, for example, I did a lot of green and white instead of blue and white, but it still goes with my existing patterns.”
And more future collections are on the way. Barber plans to not only create a couple more prints for the summer season, but also to design a collection inspired by her favorite place in Rhode Island.
“I already sell a Block Island-themed sticker sheet and I’ve had a lot of interest from a few stores out there, so I thought maybe I’ll make a couple Block Island wrapping papers and notecards to go with them,” she says.
As for her favorite part of the process, Barber says it’s seeing everything come together.
“It’s so different from seeing it on the screen when I’m designing—it’s super flat. Once I have the paper in my hands and wrap a gift, finished with a tag and bow, it all just comes to life,” she says. “I always encourage my customers to share photos of their gift wrapping. During Christmas, people would tag me in their photos on Instagram of how they wrapped their gifts, and it was really cool to see. I also get presents from my family and friends with the gift wrap and I’m like, ‘Well this looks familiar!’ I love it.”
If you’re interested in using Pearl Print Co. wrapping paper and accessories for an upcoming birthday, shower or wedding gift, you can purchase directly from the Etsy shop here. You can also keep up with the latest collection stylings on Instagram here.