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Artist/entrepreneur embraces ancient tradition of ink and paper

One of the newest retail offerings on creative Simcoe Street is also a studio space for a calligrapher

Caroline Benner believes appreciating the finer things in life include your desk supplies.

Benner is a local artist and the owner of PaperBasil, a new stationery shop in Collingwood.

“It’s a bit of a lifelong obsession,” said Benner. “I’ve always been very into paper, so when the opportunity for a retail space became available as well as a studio…”

Well, she couldn’t resist.

The retail store and studio space is located on the first floor of the Tremont Studios located on creative Simcoe Street — Collingwood’s unofficial arts and entertainment district.

“We’ve had so much community support so far, which is awesome,” said Benner. “I really liked the arts vibe that already existed here. It’s been a great fit.”

Products available at the petit paper shop include everything from home decor and elegant pens, pencils and notebooks, to greeting cards, craft kits and calligraphy sets. The majority of the products are sourced from France, with some brands dating back as far as the 1600s. Clairefontaine, a stationary specialist brand, has ties to the early history and heritage of paper production, and Jacques Herbin is one of the oldest ink makers in the world.

The space also doubles as Benner’s studio, where she offers customized calligraphy and gift concierge — a unique spin on gift-giving.

Benner and her team will talk to a client about the intention or occasion of a gift. She will then explore and present different options from her network of artists, international brands and local treasures, and wholly customize and deliver the gift to create a memorable experience for the recipient.

“We do a lot of bespoke things. We basically can do your shopping for you,” laughed Benner.

Benner moved to Collingwood from the Niagara Region in February. She got into the studio space upon arrival, but after getting the products in and everything ready to go, COVID hit. She officially opened her doors once restrictions eased in July.

Benner said the past four months have helped her get her footing, and she has a lot of ideas for the upcoming holiday season. She is excited about being able to grow alongside the other artists at the Tremont as well.

“I love the limitlessness of it,” said Benner. “When it comes to paper, there really are no restrictions with what you can do .”




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Maddie Johnson

About the Author: Maddie Johnson

Maddie Johnson is an early career journalist working in financial, small business, adventure and lifestyle reporting. She studied Journalism at the University of King's College, and worked in Halifax, Malta and Costa Rica before settling in Collingwood
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