This month our Local Love feature is on A PAPER HAT art + design supply store that opened in February in Maplewood.
A PAPER HAT art + design supply
94 Baker St.
Maplewood, NJ 07040
On Instagram: @apaperhatart
About three weeks ago, a new business opened on Baker Street in Maplewood Village – A PAPER HAT. This online and brick and mortar retailer strives to offer the highest quality art supplies at affordable prices with excellent customer service.
It took owner Mika Braakman, who lives in South Orange, a year and a half to find the right location. She searched throughout South Orange and Maplewood and finally found the perfect space on Baker Street across from her friend Indira who owns Toy Division. Mika says, “I couldn’t have picked a better location. The space is perfect and Maplewood Village is magical.”
Mika has always been interested in the arts. She knew from the time she was 10 that she wanted to be a fashion designer. So she went to school for fashion design and went on to pursue fashion design professionally. She decided to switch gears several years later and earn a Masters degree in Industrial Design so she could work with furniture. She started an Industrial Design Showcase and would curate pop-up expos in NYC. During this time in her career she worked with anywhere from 20 – 115 designers who were students or professionals from around the world.
After taking a few years off to focus on her family, Mika, who has always been entrepreneurial, decided she wanted to start a business where she could become an integral member of the community by weaving her business into the fabric of the community. She wanted her business to be current but timeless, and offer products that people needed. Given that the area is so artistic, Mika knew that a store that sold quality art supplies would always be in demand. And so her business in art supplies was born.
A PAPER HAT carries many of the traditional crafting and art supplies, but it also carries many new and innovative products. The space is bright, open and airy with the look of a trendy boutique. Mika is going to be holding live demonstrations to help customers understand how to use new and different media. These demonstrations will be geared towards kids as well as adults. She is not going to be holding art classes – she is leaving that to Geralyn’s Art Studio across the street and to several other studios throughout town. But she will be supporting all those other businesses. Mika is also interested in partnering with the local schools and preschools by offering classroom essentials for art educators.
When asked about the name of her new business, A PAPER HAT, Mika explained, “It is based on a Dutch children’s song. My husband and I both have a Dutch background, and the Oranges in New Jersey have a Dutch background, so it made sense for the name to be based on the children’s song.” The name is playful and accessible, the vibe she wants for her business.
Mika wants to make art approachable at A PAPER HAT. She wants her customers “to come to her store, hang out and collaborate.”
A PAPER HAT offers a 10% Community Membership Discount Program to local businesses, municipalities, community organizations, teachers and students.
Photos courtesy of Sean Madden