As part of our ‘5 Minutes With…’ series, we caught up with Molly Park, Chief Product Officer at Papier, who has had a varied and distinguished career to date spanning buying, design and product.
Working for the renowned brands including Disney, Cath Kidson and Designers Guild, Molly really cut her teeth at Oliver Bonas, joining as their first Product Design & Developer for Home & Gift, and helping supercharge the brand from 25 bricks-and-mortar stores to over 100 within a 7-year period, in addition to online growth.
Since then, Molly joined Papier, initially as Designer Director, and now as CPO, spearheading design strategy, emphasising the importance of combining creativity with commercial acumen.
Molly you’ve had an inspiring career to date, but what advice would you give to those entering the industry?
Commercial literacy is as important to hone as the creative acumen. Ask and learn from other teams as knowledge is key. We are all working for the same business at the end of day. Come in with a growth mindset. Every day is a school day. Own your progression. Take every opportunity to be present and elevate your personal brand. Do not be afraid to speak up and ask for help. Finally, nothing beats on-desk training.
Are there any brands at moment that you hugely admire and why?
There are a lot of great brands emerging in the beauty sector. Ultra Violette is making the functional side UV protection engaging and practical by creating products that problem solves such as a UV spray application mist which you can reapply on top of your make-up. All the brands I’m obsessed with are super focused on problem-solving for the consumers. Also, the brand identity is strong, identifiable and elevate vs any other UV products.
Glassette is an incredible home & lifestyle marketplace, dedicated to curating and supporting small up-and-coming British designers and makers. Their focus on storytelling adds a personal touch to the products and creates a connection between the creators and consumers. This approach makes it a great platform for finding unique and meaningful gifts.
I’m also huge admirer of Glossier – their product and brand positioning are flawless.
In your eyes where do you see the future of print/paper products?
I still see a huge space for it. Despite the digital age, there is enduring value of tangible, physical items. Our brains are wired to appreciate the sensory experience of interacting with real things—being able to touch, feel, and fully immerse ourselves in the physicality of a product. While digital platforms may rely on short attention-grabbing clips, the actual experiential aspect of a product will always hold significance. The creative value inherent in print and paper products, and their ability to evoke emotions and provide a tangible connection, ensures their continued relevance in a world increasingly focused on digital consumption.
What is your advice to aspiring leaders?
As an aspiring leader, my advice would be to embrace the value of feedback. Regardless of your position or level within the organization, seeking feedback is crucial for personal and professional growth. Feedback is a gift that shows others care about your development and success.
In addition to receiving feedback, it is equally important to focus on your areas of improvement. A strong leader is one who demonstrates vulnerability and transparency by acknowledging their weaknesses and actively working on them. By being open about our own challenges, we create an environment of trust and encourage our teams to become a reliable support system.
If you find yourself in a creative leadership role, I encourage you to take on the role of a teacher for your team. Teach them, guide them, and provide constructive feedback. Equally important, teach them to give you constructive feedback in return. Being receptive to feedback is crucial for personal and professional growth, and it plays a vital role in the growth of your team as well.
By fostering a culture of open communication, continuous learning, and constructive feedback, you create an environment that nurtures individual and collective growth. So, as an aspiring leader, embrace feedback, be open to vulnerability, and cultivate a supportive and learning-oriented atmosphere for yourself and your team.
Over the last 5-10 years what changes have you seen within the industry?
From my perspective, I have observed significant changes within the industry over the past 5-10 years. Initially, there was a strong emphasis on the aesthetics of design—the visual appeal and branding of products took centre stage. However, I believe that the current and upcoming decade will be characterised by a deeper focus on connecting products with individuals on a more profound level.
In today's landscape, it is crucial for products to evoke the right emotional response in consumers. Creatives, including myself, play a vital role in navigating this evolving industry. We need to strike a delicate balance between aesthetics and emotional connection. It is no longer enough for a product to just look visually appealing; it must also resonate with consumers on an emotional level.
To achieve this, staying informed and up to date with data and consumer understanding is paramount. As creatives, we need to be on top of the latest trends, consumer preferences, and market insights. This knowledge empowers us to create designs that genuinely touch people's lives and align with their desires.
Moreover, moving with the times is essential. The industry is constantly evolving, and as creatives, we must adapt and embrace change. We need to be agile, flexible, and open to new ideas and approaches. This ensures that our work remains relevant and impactful in an ever-changing landscape.
Do you feel that your degree helped you and would you hire without someone having one?
I would hire for attitude first, then creative second. Mindset is everything and no I think my degree is helpful, but it’s not crucial to the hiring process these days. Having an up-to-date portfolio demonstrating your work and capabilities is super helpful though.
What is the impact on hybrid working in the creative space?
In my experience as a creative lead, the impact of hybrid working in the creative space is a topic of consideration. When working with products, there is an inherent need to feel and be physically present with them. As a result, I believe in maintaining flexibility rather than imposing strict guidelines. I trust that if flexible working arrangements are in place, individuals will naturally choose to come into the studio when necessary.
Particularly for junior members of the team, I always encourage them to spend time as much time in the studio as possible, observing and immersing themselves in the creative environment. This not only helps elevate their personal profiles but also facilitates continuous learning and growth.
Ultimately, I believe that one's development and career progression are individual responsibilities. Being visible in the studio and building strong relationships with colleagues can play a significant role in this progression. It all comes down to the effort and mindset one puts into their work. By actively engaging with the studio environment, individuals can enhance their professional journey and create opportunities for advancement.