Make or break

Patty Gurman (left) is the founder of Sweet Paper Creations
Patty Gurman (left) is the founder of Sweet Paper Creations

Jo Sealy from Waltham Forest Busines Network discovers a business based around a Latin American tradition

Sweet Paper Creations is a not-for-profit E17 family business established in 2018.

Uniquely, it uses the sale of bespoke piñatas – a decorated container, filled with small toys or sweets, broken open to celebrate a special occasion – to realise its vision of improving people’s mental health.

Founder Patty Gurman moved to Walthamstow from Guatemala 27 years ago. She says: “Piñatas are a part of life in Latin America so, while my children were growing up, I used to make piñatas as a fun activity for their birthday parties.

“When my eldest child was severely affected by depression and anxiety, I didn’t know how to help or motivate her, so I reverted back to making piñatas as a relief strategy – with life-changing results.

“We were both able to experience the positive effects that this creative outlet can have on individuals suffering poor mental health.”

For the past 12 months Sweet Paper Creations has made and sold bespoke piñatas through its online shop. It has used the profits from the business, supported by a fundraising campaign, to establish and deliver ‘Make It and Break It’ piñata workshops, specifically to provide community support to those suffering from poor mental health. The company has now successfully run two pilot workshops in Waltham Forest.

Patty continued: “Our workshop approach is unique as we provide both a creative and cultural experience. Furthermore, we are passionate about the environment, which is why we only use recycled everyday objects for our piñatas that are made with recyclable materials and can continue to be recycled after being broken.

“When we started the business we were complete novices – starting up is exciting but it can be

overwhelming and isolating. We were lucky enough to be able to get local business support, including one-to-one support and guidance.”

Patty is working hard to grow Sweet Paper Creations so that it can sustainably support a full programme of workshops. Her ambition is to deliver workshops in local schools, focusing on children and adolescents who have been affected directly or indirectly by mental health issues.

“Longer-term the plan is secure a permanent venue with a café,” adds Patty. “It will reflect the true beauty of the piñata tradition, which is in the smiles it brings to the faces of all who participate, both in making and breaking their own piñatas!”

For more information about Sweet Paper Creations:

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