Kalyn Johnson Chandler is the founder and creative force behind the signature paperie, Effie’s Paper :: Stationery & Whatnot. Following a ten year legal career at a large international law firm, Kalyn returned to her first love, fashion.  In 2007, she launched STYLE by Kalyn Johnson, a style consultancy focused on personal branding for men and women in the corporate arena. Her client roster consisted of television news anchors, attorneys, physicians and other professionals.  Now, a self-taught graphic designer, she’s extended her intrinsic fashion sense
into a distinct stationery and desk accessory brand.  The company is named after her grandmother, Mrs. Effie Hayes, that features her signature design aesthetic of bright colors, bold designs and witty “bon mots.”  In addition, Kalyn is a recognized Letter Writing Expert. Kalyn is also one of the co-authors of the cult classic, The BAP Handbook :: The Official Guide to the Black American Princess.


What Does Black History Month Mean To You This Year?

This year for Black History Month, I’m taking my inspiration from my 14 year old self, and I’m celebrating Black History Month as Black Girl Magic Month!

I grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a tony suburb about 30 minutes outside of Detroit.  Things have changed a bit, but there were very few Black families in the community then.  In the 9th grade my BFF, Nicole (whose last name was also Johnson, so people assumed we were related), was in all of my classes.  I will never forget the beginning of February that year.  We had Mr. Hazenthal for algebra.  Nicole and I decided (being the “militant” bougie Black girls we thought we were) that we were going to educate our classmates about Black History.  We took it upon ourselves to ask each of our teachers if we could do a special presentation for Black History Month.  Before algebra began on that fateful day, we approached Mr. Hazenthal and made our pitch.  He looked at us and said, “I don’t get it, why do Black people need a special month? When is white history month?” I was shocked into silence.  But God bless Nicole (who to this day is still one of my BFFs), who looked him in the eye and said loudly and forcefully, “[w]hite history month is every other day of the year!”  Needless to say, he let us make our presentation.

Nicole’s razor sharp wit, her engaging personality and enduring friendship all these many years later embodies what Black Girl Magic means to me.  Have you noticed all of the Black Girl Magic around you?  From Michelle Obama to Shonda Rhimes to Simone Biles to Ava Duvernay and all of the FAB women you know who are shaking things up and making a new set of rules; I dedicate this month to them, and all of the Black women out here making magic happen.

This photo is of my grandparents, Mr. William Hayes and Mrs. Effie Hayes.  My granddad is 94 and loves to say, “I’m alive and kickin’, just not that high”.

This photo is of my grandparents, Mr. William Hayes and Mrs. Effie Hayes.  My granddad is 94 and loves to say, “I’m alive and kickin’, just not that high”.

Who Inspires You To Design This Year?

My maternal grandmother, Mrs. Effie Hayes, is the inspiration behind effie’s paper. Although she’s no longer with us, I know that she’d be tickled about being my stationery company’s namesake.
My gran was a stylish lady who was a stickler for pocketbooks filled with hankies and red lipstick, proper undergarments and a well-written thank you note. I got my sense of style from my grandmother. My grandparents didn’t have a lot of money, but my grandmother was one of the most stylish ladies I’ve ever known. Her creativity with her ensembles translated into everything she touched from the beautiful quilts she sewed to the way she made gift bows during the holiday season.


Where Are You Finding Inspiration To Design This Year?

The events of the past three months have had me questioning just about everything I've always held dear. In November, I learned that millions of my fellow Americans voted for a candidate who is openly hostile towards people of color, immigrants, Muslims, gays, bisexuals and transgender people. They voted – women voted – for a candidate who has displayed an open contempt for women. They voted for a candidate who encourages hatred and seems to thrive on the chaos it stirs up. Our rights to vote, control our bodies and move about this land freely hang in the balance. I am still saddened and deeply troubled, but I’ve decided to take action on a number of levels.  

The women’s movement that is coalescing around our current state of affairs is proving to be my inspiration for 2017.   I have pledged to become more involved in local politics for myself and all of the young women in my life. I have three nieces and three goddaughters – I want them to grow up with confidence and believe that they can do whatever they set their minds to.  In addition, most of the young ladies who work for Effie’s Paper are millennials and I’ve noticed that as smart and capable as these young ladies are, some of them don’t seem to have the same kind of moxy my friends and I had when we graduated from college.  So, taking the women’s movement as my inspiration, my products for 2017 are infused with messages of female empowerment and community.  Effie’s Paper is known for cheeky sayings and pretty desk accessories, but who says our sayings can’t be cheeky and empowering?  Look for our Black Girl Magic metallic gold notebooks, our NASTY WOMAN lapel pins, our GIRL GO ON WITH YO CUTE SELF silver metallic notebooks and our host of fun pretty coffee mugs with motivational messages like “GRL PWR”, “Make Your Own Magic”, “Get Shit Done” and “Do What You Love”.

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