In three short years The Paper Seahorse has quickly become a favorite amongst stationery lovers both near and far. Paper lovers, fountain pen enthusiasts, and the curiously creative alike can find their tribe inside this quaint green South Tampa bungalow.
But who is the visionary behind this magical oasis? Keep reading to learn more about The Paper Seahorse proprietress Tona Bell and how her love for stationery began and why she wants to bring back analog to Tampa Bay.
Describe how you came into the world of stationery and what kept your interest?
My dad was probably the one who helped me have a love of paper and stationery. He would bring me office supplies home, notebooks, forms etc. Anything paper and from an office to play with. He also had a groovy pen case and pens and mechanical pencils. He loved nice things and made no exception with stationery. I even had clip boards and paper clips, tape and scissors from a young age. I loved a good desk set up. As you grow up, your tastes change and so some styles have varied but my love for office / desk supplies has never changed, it has just expanded!
What’s the best part about being Tampa’s only independent stationery store?
The best part is meeting all the people who love stationery like I do, rekindling the love in some, and the other best part is introducing it to a new generation of folks. I love bringing authenticity to Tampa. That and creating community is what helps make a city great. I am a Floridaphile too. There aren’t many true stationery stores in Florida either. I absolutely love that we can provide a place where people can find the goods they need to be more creative and mindful. We have folks drive 3 - 5 hours just to visit the paper goods and to take classes. It is very rewarding.
In your opinion, why does #writingmatter?
Writing matters because of a few reasons:
1. It makes you slow down and be mindful.
2. It is good for your health.
3. Putting pen (or pencil) to paper makes us more creative.
What kind of things or habits do you practice regularly to keep analog and stationery alive?
I am an avid letter writer. I have several pen pals and I regularly keep in touch with family and friends. I also journal weekly. Every Sunday I am outside with the cats recapping my week and planning ahead using my Traveler's Company and MD notebooks. I also give stationery as gifts, it is beautiful and useful!
If you could only select three writing instruments and/or accessories to bring with you on a deserted island what would they be?
What’s your advice for someone who wants to write more letters but has no clue where to start?
Here are a couple of ideas:
1. Join a letter writing club in your area and meet like minded folks such as the Tampa Letter Writers Club.
2. Write to family and friends.
3. Write to those in need or lonely such as seniors, terminally ill children and women in distress are a few options .
What’s the next step for The Paper Seahorse in terms of stationery? And what aspect are you most proud of so far?
We are working on our own products! A line of engraved stationery and more fabulous stationery boxes. These will be created in limited batches with modern and vintage items. I think the thing I am most proud of is that I had a vision for a studio that I would love and I knew would help people slow down, reconnect with themselves and others. And guess what? I found out it is something everyone can relate to and taking a digital detox is growing in popularity!