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I am certain that it seems rather unlikely that a person like me with a degree in Medical Record Administration way back when would end up as the creator and owner of Cup of Arms in 2016! While the path seems natural to me, it seldom does to anyone else.  Cup of Arms is really a third generation business as far as businesses go, that is, with its real origins dating back to 1992.....

How it all began....

In the early 90's I was the Regional Operations Manager for a Medicare reimbursement consulting firm with home offices on the west coast yet I was based in Nashville, TN. I was responsible for operations in 8 different states and my job required a significant amount of travel. My husband (of almost 30 years now) was finishing his graduate training at Vanderbilt University and we were both averaging 80 hour work weeks. We were young and energetic and at the time the travel was fun and we loved the frequent flyer perks on our limited budget! When my husband started interviewing for "real" jobs near the completion of his graduate training, my travel and responsibilites were such that I was not able to attend interviews with him (ha, yes, it was de rigueur in his traditional profession back in 1992 that the potential employer meet the spouse!)

In an effort to make myself available for interviews and to have a say in our future, I requested a leave of absence from my "real job" and ended up helping a friend of a friend during the holidays in her very chic and popular Nashville retail stationery store. The pay was minimum but the hours were flexible and it was there that I discovered my passion for not only retail, but for all things unique and personalized. Starting, I think, with The Preppy Handbook in 1980, I had always been mad for anything monogrammed, engraved, personalized, or bespoke, not to mention pens and paper and beautiful invitations, so I was in heaven! Of course, along with every invitation went all of the accompanying accessories including what else but custom napkins, cups, and plates to match! Three months later I was completely hooked and knew that no matter where we ended up with my husband's job, I wanted to be a retail stationery store owner. That was the beginning of The Paper House in Memphis, TN.

Born in a tiny sunroom in our lovely 4 square Central Gardens Memphis home in 1993, The Paper House took on a life of its own. I was one of those traveling gypsys in the early years attending holiday bazarres, Junior League shows, home shows, out of town home shows, and anywhere else that I could tote, show and sell my goods. Life on the road was fun until our family began and we moved to a home with an unused backhouse. The Paper House then became an adorable boutique stationery store and settled into a steady stream of customers with a booming wedding business in addition to a very popular "Cup Closet". The Cup Closet was open on the honor system 24/7 and was always stocked with fashionable and festive "pre-printed" grab and go cups and "pre-printed" cello packed beverage napkins for every occasion. The Cup Closet seemed to be on everyone's route; customers stopped in on the way to school for that last minute teacher gift, they stopped in on the way to supper club for that forgotten hostess gift, and they even popped in on Christmas Eve for that very last last minute gift for the person they forgot on their list! Not only had The Paper House taken on a life of its own, but our cups and napkins began to take on a life of their own. By 2001 I had added a partner and neither of us could have predicted what would happen next. 

In the fall of  2002, one of our customers walked into work at the now defunct Budget Living Magazine in New York City. After arriving at work with her very own monogrammed 16 ounce styrofoam cup, her editor boss went wild and wanted to know all of the details about her personalized cup. One thing led to another and the next thing we knew our ever popular 16 ounce monogrammed foam cup was featured in the Holiday Guide of Budget Living magazine that year and.....we were requested to provide a website address (!) along with the feature. At that early stage of the internet I was totally unfamiliar with anything web/internet related much less ecommerce related, I had never sent a text message and had BARELY been introduced to the miracle of online shopping. By God's grace and a lot of determination, we were able to throw up a "business card website" in time for the publication. Thus, www.paperhouseonline.com was born! In the early stages, there were no online ordering capabilites, however, we did hire a lot of extra staff (referred to as the Paper Dolls) to man the phone lines and take the huge amount of phone orders we received, manually entering all credit card information at the end of the day.

By 2005, we had upgraded the original site and added online ordering and credit card processing capabilites, and the day of having to take phone orders was over (and quite liberating I might add). In 2009, the original site was completely redesigned, rewritten, and upgraded with a virtual print preview and expedited shipping was offered. Our cups were featured yet again in a national magazine, this time being the more popular Traditional Home magazine. Our now famous cups were making their splash across America and we were generating sales from all 50 states. WIth quickly evolving e-commerce technology and security issues becoming more and more prevalent, by 2015 it was time to revamp yet again. The Paper House Online partnership was deemed to have run its course and this "third generation" business, Angela's Cup of Arms was created.

A star is born....

In a desire to provide my long time Paper House shop and paperhouseonline.com customers with something truly unique and different in this "third generation", I wanted to create a Signature Collection of designs that were exclusive to Cup of Arms. This entire collection originated, for the most part, at The West Cancer Clinic with a Sharpie marker on white paper as I accompanied my brave mother during 62 weeks of chemotherapy. I love our Signature Collection of monogram, initial, name designs and art; some very traditional designs and some not. Each piece in this Collection was designed exclusively for Cup of Arms and was brought to life by a talented team of graphic artists and cannot be found anywhere else. We spent hours curating this Collection and my hope is that you love it as much as I do.

To say the creation of Cup of Arms has been a true labor of love during one of the most unbearable times of my life would be such an understatement.  In the past two years I have not only lost my two sisters, this past June (2015) I lost my precious mother after an extremely brave 15 month battle with cancer, followed by the death of my beloved 97 year old grandfather this March. I am now blessed beyond measure to be aunt and stand in mother to all 6 nieces and nephews and I was even stand in mother of the groom for my oldest nephew this summer who was married 8 days before my mother pased away. There have been more times than not when I wanted to stop creating, stop working, and basically stop life but I have not done that. In many ways, the creation of Cup of Arms has been my lifeline and a form of grief therapy as I focused on healthy ways to recover after my loss and let my creativity flow.

It has taken an enormous amount of strength to produce this new site and see it through to the end but I am overjoyed at what my squad has accomplished and how it has turned out. I am overlfowing with gratitude for each and every person who has had a part in the creation of this site from blueprints to launch. I look forward to this being my last venture on this retail journey and now, over 20 years later, I have no regrets about that minimum pay job I took way back in 1992! I am my best when I am surrounded by the love of family and happiness of friends and entertaining has always been a passion. We have opened our hearts and our home for so many happy occasions throughout the years and the plain simple fact that I am helping most of you celebrate someone or something or give a gift from the heart brings joy to my soul.


Angela Crone