Jessica Bates’ stationery business, Jack + Ella Paper, is anything but stationary.

What began as an Etsy shop in 2010 now has its own website from which Bates, of Verona, sells her full line of environmentally friendly stationery.

In addition, the business has garnered national recognition by being named a finalist in the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made Awards in the paper crafts category.

Named after Bates’ son Jack, 14, and daughter Ella, 12, the brand offers custom and ready-made paper goods printed on recycled, Wisconsin-sourced card stock. Product lines include wedding, holiday and everyday greeting cards, both retail and wholesale. Bates will also work with a customer to create the perfect paper good for their needs.

Bates, 44, always had an interest in design and created her own wedding invitations. She also makes her own holiday cards each year. The business took off as she began getting requests from family and friends to help with their stationery needs.

Bates realized she could make a living doing something she really enjoyed.

When her children were small, she was a stay-at-home mom. When they headed off to school, more time opened up for Bates and she started the Etsy shop four years ago.

Originally from Freeport, Illinois, Bates graduated from Southern Illinois University with a bachelor of arts degree. She says that she didn’t follow her passion for design in school and is self-taught in all areas of her business.

Bates said success in her business requires include a good eye for design, knowledge of design software and knowledge of both printing and print techniques.

She also credits her Midwest work ethic.

She contracts with local artist Rae Kaiser of for many of the doodles & fonts used in her goods, as Kaiser’s style fits well with her designs.

Jack + Ella’s customers are primarily women between the ages of 25 and 55. One of the top sellers are change-of-address postcards, which are popular with young homeowners. Many of Bates’ clients come back for their stationery needs related to other life milestones such wedding stationery and baby announcements.

“I enjoy doing what I love while helping people make their life milestones even more special through creatively designed paper goods,” Bates said. “When people keep coming back, it is the ultimate compliment and motivates me to continue creating.”

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Emerging Businesses appears on the third Tuesday of each month. To suggest a business that has been open one to five years, contact Jill Carlson at