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Paper Source founder Susan Lindstrom dead at 73

Susan Lindstrom

Susan Lindstrom open the first Paper Source store in 1983. | Provided photo

A trip to Japan in the early 1980s proved life-changing for Susan Lindstrom.

As a young woman, Ms. Lindstrom, worked for her father’s framing company, Ross Wetzel Studios, before a trip to Japan sparked her love for refined stationery.

While in Japan, she worked with Japanese paper products and when she returned to the States, she continued to work with and collect fine stationery. In 1983, she turned her passion into a business, opening the first Paper Source in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.

Her goal was to showcase handcrafted paper from around the world.

Ms. Lindstrom died on Aug. 16 at 73. She is survived by three children.

Jim York, her business partner from 1997 to 2007, described Ms. Lindstrom as someone who was “always willing to take huge leaps” when it came to opening stores and drawing in customers. She would hang up old botanical and medical diagrams.

“She was like a modern Frida Kahlo,” York said. “She had a vision for Paper Source. . . . and she brought together a lot of different modes under one roof.”

The paper goods retailer sells “nifty” things — from rubber stamps and calligraphy sets to quirky wrapping papers and cards — that all supported Ms. Lindstrom’s oft-used phrase and the store’s goal: Do something creative every day.

Paper Source has grown into a chain with 10 in Illinois and over 100 others around the country. Ms. Lindstrom stepped down as Chief Creative Officer in 2009.

York said that Ms. Lindstrom’s “exceptional” eye for colors lended itself to the color palettes used in Paper Source stores. Ms. Lindstrom, he said, set the tone for design and created a cohesive shopping experience.

In 2009, York said Ms. Lindstrom moved to New Mexico where she painted rocks and drew landscapes of the land around her. Reflecting on their time together, he said that the business was a “manifestation of a vision, instead of a business plan executed.”

“Whatever we did, either successes or failures, there was always laughter around it,” York said.