Tucked just inside the P Street corridor off Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown is Just Paper and Tea, the quaint specialty shop offering a finely edited array of — you guessed it — paper and tea. Owners Nick and Carolyn Wasylczuk are celebrating the store’s 26th anniversary this month.
The store opened its doors in November 1989. It was then a paint store, specializing in faux finishing. At the height of this art form’s popularity, they serviced a clientele that included the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Andrew Lloyd Webber (during the peak of his “Phantom of the Opera” fame). The couple would be the first and last contractors working in Webber’s Trump Tower corner duplex, with memories of a bathrobe-clad composer bringing them coffee in the mornings and wine in the evenings.
When asked why the store now specializes in just paper and tea, Nick queries, “Why not?” Carolyn is a former stationary buyer, and tea is an integral part of her family background, being of Asian descent. “She does all the printed materials,” says Nick of their work partnership. “If it were up to me, I’d still be printing the first piece.”
What is it like to work with your spouse? Carolyn has a quick answer. “I can’t work with anybody else,” she says. “Everything we do, every decision we make, we pass by each other.”
Just Paper and Tea is an American Express Small Business, which encourages cardholders to think big but “shop small.” Last year, American Express spruced up several of the shops at this section of P Street for Christmastime. This year, the company paid for artist Aniekan Udofia to paint a mural on an outside wall of Just Tea and Paper in the alley, easily seen from Wisconsin Avenue.
Nick and Carolyn’s repertoire of work includes everything from designing wedding invitations for a newly reunited military couple to birthday luncheon invitations for Pope Benedict. “We feel very lucky in that we love what we do,” says Carolyn. “We get to see people at their happiest.”
“In today’s world of evolving technology, the written word is power,” adds Nick. “You can delete an email.” He pauses. “You can throw away a letter — but you won’t.”