Conversations with...Paige Zinn


When I travel, one of my favorite things to do is to explore the local  architecture and sights, but what I really am fascinated with is  how people live and what they eat in other parts of the world.

This summer, I went to Europe with my family and in each country  we visited,  the locals were enjoying all the foods  we are told are bad for you.   Bread , pasta, cheese, and wine were  consumed with gusto. Yet, everyone partaking  looked glowingly healthy! In Paris, all the women were so chic and put together, despite the 95 degree heat.  No jeans or flip flops here. Years earlier, we traveled to  Sweden and visited a children's museum.  In the museum cafeteria, the children were eating Swedish meatballs and lingonberry junk food was even offered.  When I am fortunate to stay with friends or family in their home while traveling ,  I enjoy experiencing  their rituals - their exercise routines, a cup of coffee or tea prepared a certain way, a good book they are reading, or learning about a skill they have that I never knew about.   As a natural observer, I always find something inspiring to take home with me.

Because I am curious about  people's rituals and lifestyles,  I thought it would be fun to  start a series of interviews with interesting people in our  community, state and beyond. I am leaving the serious posts about world happenings  for other blogs! Hopefully you will be  inspired by what people do to fill their creative souls  when they step away from the daily grind  of the everyday. 

My first "guest" is someone who fascinates me all the time  and happens to be my sister-in-law, Paige Zinn. She is the Owner/Principal of Jennings, one of the top  healthcare marketing firms in the country.   And she is the most efficient and organized  person I have ever met. She taught me the saying "If you want to get something done, give it to a busy person" - a saying  she personifies.  Before she had children,  her house was always so neat and organized.  I used to whisper to myself "Wait until she had kids"...thinking  her house would be a wreck like mine when little babies and toddlers take over.   She now has not only one, but two busy and talented kids, yet  everything is still in its place.   She is a wife, mother, and a  respected business woman and has found the time to  run the NYC marathon,  become a certified yoga instructor,  chaired  the Chapel Hill Chamber of Commerce BOD, and currently sits on the Orange County Economic Development advisory board.  While she has received numerous awards and has sat on a number of boards in the hopes of making our community a better place, she still finds time to be creative and find joy in her everyday life.  My mother-in -law, who is a builder and a designer, always encouraged me to pursue a career in design, but it was Paige that  gave me the final push.  "What are you waiting for...go back to school and do it now!" So I did! Cheers to this go -getter who is always trying to live her best life.


You are the most organized person I know.  Any advice for the rest of us?

I definitely understand that being organized is not everyone’s forte. But since I was in junior high, I’ve always enjoyed and been good at planning and organizing. Recently,  mom reminded me that on Christmas mornings, even when I was very young, I would open my gifts and then immediately take them upstairs to organize in my room. I didn’t like messy, chaotic environments. And I still don’t.




Buy a paper planner and use it every day. I use mine to keep my schedule and to list my to-dos. My planner includes the tasks/appointments I have for the office, as well as all of my personal appointments/tasks. It even includes my kids’ activities and appointments. It has been proven that writing things down helps you remember them. And once you’ve completed a task, make sure to mark through it. There is something incredibly satisfying about that.

Using your planner, take 10 minutes at the end of each day to review your day. Those items that still need to be done should be written in the next day’s to-do list. And take pride in reviewing all of the things you accomplished that day.

Each morning review your day in your planner. That way, your schedule is in your head and you can mentally prepare for what’s ahead.

Carry your planner everywhere. You will be amazed at the number of times you need to reschedule something or tweak a to-do.

At the end of each day, spend 30 minutes picking up the house and putting things in their proper place. I vacuum our family room, mud room and kitchen every other night. Not only does it pick up the dirt that has been tracked into the house, but it allows my brain to wander. I wish I had more time for my brain to wander.




You always send the most beautiful thank you notes and cards and it is such a treat to get something in the mail these days!  What are some of your favorite sources to get beautiful cards and paper?

My new favorite stationer is Nancy Sharon Collins. I recently commissioned her to create bespoke hand-engraved stationery for me. The process took about 3-4 months, but it was worth it. The custom cipher was the first step. Then we selected a color palette. I went with Peony Pink, which surprised me a bit. I am not a pink kind of gal, but I wanted a color that made me smile.  The last step was selecting paper stock. I wanted a paper that had a smooth finish, but also was a good match for my fountain pens (That is the only type of pen I use.). I selected a bamboo paper stock, after reviewing a number of different types of paper. You can learn more about Nancy and her process at

I’ve also used Emily McCarthy for my stationery. While I like her monogram styles, they are not custom. And I really wanted to invest in a custom cipher.




What is something you love to do for other people?

I love to write letters. My goal is to send at least one handwritten letter a week. I try and make the letter a work of art. I use my new bespoke letterhead and envelopes. And I write in Copperplate calligraphy for the address. And I finish with a wax seal. Currently, I’m using a seal that you brought back for me from Murano, Italy. I love it!





What would you like to be an expert at if given the chance?

Calligraphy. I dream of being a Master Penman.




Where do you go to find peace in your house?

My office. I can truly relax there. I used a Farrow & Ball wallpaper (an English company) – St. Antoine Damask – on one wall in this room. And I painted the trim and coffered ceiling a dark, rich brown. The walls are cream. The floors are a dark walnut hardwood. And I have an area rug in the center of the room that has cream and light blue colors.

The office looks out over our backyard pool which backs up to open space filled with trees. The view has a calming influence on me.





Architecturally, what is your favorite style?

Tudor and classic English country

What does your home say about you?

My husband, Omar, and I designed a Tudor home. We both like the steep roofline, the embellished doorways and the decorative half-timbering. The house was designed so that all of the rooms would be used. We don’t like wasted space. Both of us appreciate the elegance yet livability of the home. And the porte-cochere adds a bit of whimsy to the house.


What do you collect?

Fountain pens: my favorites right now are Sailor and Pilot Vanishing Point (both Japanese companies)



Leather planners: I am especially fond of Gillio and Van der Spek planners. Gillio is in Belgium and Van der Spek is in the Netherlands.

Ted Muehling jewelry: especially his rings and bracelets


Goyard bags



Coclico shoes: hand made in Spain


What do you do to relax?

Watch British TV series – Vera, Doc Martin, Midsomer Murders, Inspector Lewis.




Are you working on any projects or events that are exciting to you?

I recently was accepted into the Ink.Academy (Yes, there is a period after Ink for some reason!). I am taking a yearlong course in Spencerian script. I enjoy calligraphy and I’m interested in improving my skills.

I’m also working on two projects – our family’s holiday card and my daughter Parker's  Sweet 16 birthday invitation. Both will incorporate my calligraphy.


 Parker's Sweet 16 birthday cake. She is a talented  seamstress and hopes  to be a fashion designer.




Dream work/ project?

Owning a design business with my daughter (Parker)  that specializes in custom pieces and collaborations. I would manage the operations of the company and work on the calligraphy assignments, and Parker would be Creative Director. 

Currently, Parker and I work together on ParkerPaige designs. Parker creates a variety of bags - travel, toiletry bags, evening bags, duffel bags, and sells them online and in trunk shows. I created the logo and help her with the business side of things.



What would you love to be doing in 10 years?

Help manage the design business for Parker , and run  a brick and mortar destination store that specializes in premium papers, paper planners and fountain pens. It would also offer calligraphy design services.

How do you describe your style?

I had my “Style Statement” done years ago by Carrie and Danielle. My style was called “Genuine Invitation.” This is how it was described:

“Genuine Invitation just wants to be itself and deeply appreciates people and experiences that are free from hypocrisy or dishonesty; and are sincere. I appreciate things that last and endure, and come from original and pure sources. I have a knack for taking the best and leaving the rest. I like things that are comfortable and comforting. I appreciate strong craftsmanship that stands the test of time. I don’t like replicas, rip-offs or imitation designs.”

I think this description fits me perfectly.



What would you tell someone to do if they were visiting Chapel Hill for the first time:

Stay in the Carolina Inn. Get up early and grab a cinnamon roll at Sunrise Biscuits. Also eat at Suttons, IP3 Pizza and Crook’s Corner. Walk on campus.


My golden rule is:

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

Are there any lessons from childhood that you still carry with you today?

There is no substitute for hard work.

What inspires you?

People who have extraordinary talents, teachers/coaches/parents who genuinely love what they do and get the most out of their students/players/children, books that are difficult to put down;  my husband’s love of life and people

Something you crave daily:

Alone time


Paige’s favorite things:

Hostess Gift: The Laundress sample packs, hydrangeas mixed with dianthus, box of stationery that I love.

Favorite gift given to you: A few come to mind: my dad’s UNC class ring, a wax seal from Murano, Italy to use on my stationery envelopes, any jewelry my husband purchases for me

Favorite Meal: Mexican anything. I LOVE Mexican food.  I could bathe in guacamole with nice, big chunks of avocado.

Favorite go to color palette to use in your home:

Browns, blues, cream

Most cherished item: My family.

Favorite Flower: Peony

What would you give to a person that has everything? Lancome’s Nutrix Royal Body Cream, BeautyCounter’s facial oil gift set, Mr. MG Ward’s foiled desktop leather blotter

Favorite 3 places to eat in the Triangle? Thai Palace in Chapel Hill, Vin Rouge in Durham, Stoney River Steakhouse in Chapel Hill.



What would you give to a person that has everything? Lancome’s Nutrix Royal Body Cream, BeautyCounter’s facial oil gift set, Mr. MG Ward’s foiled desktop leather blotter





My favorite local shop: Lark and Crazy Alan's Emporium

Book you think should be on everyone’s book shelf: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged

Favorite TV/Netflix obsession? The Crown, Vera and Midsomer Murders

Favorite Travel destination: I really enjoy the big island in Hawaii. My husband and I visited there for a wedding, and it still ranks as our favorite vacation.

Favorite Drink: Prosecco.


Thank you, Paige!  Receiving a letter from her is like  getting a small  work of art. I want to frame it!  If you sign up to receive the blog, Paige and I are giving away one of her favorite gifts to receive and give to one lucky person,  a large jar of Lancôme Nutrix Royal Body Butter! You will love it!


UncategorizedDebra Zinn