Moms don’t get the recognition they deserve! As a business run BY local moms FOR local moms, Boston Moms is excited to showcase the hard work local moms are doing — both at home and in their professions.
Boston Moms is proud to feature Paula Dunbar, owner of Paper Fiesta. Paula is passionate about bringing people joy and helping them celebrate important moments!
We asked Paula to share a little bit about herself. Get to know her here!
Name: Paula Dunbar
Hometown: I was raised in Brookline and now live in Ashland!
Tell us a little bit about yourself! I’m a 43-year-old Latina woman, and I have an amazing husband named Walter. We’ve been married for 17 years and have two children, Natalie and Lucas — Natalie is in 10th grade and Lucas is in 5th. Lilli, our Welsh terrier, is 12.
What’s your favorite local restaurant? I love Aztec Restaurant or El Rincon Latino. They’re both in Framingham and have amazing pupusas and tacos!
Tell us a local brand you love! Aud & El is a MetroWest mom who makes her own soy-based candles with natural oils. She has great scents, and we sell them at our store!
Tell us about your store: Paper Fiesta is a celebration store that I dreamed of opening for a long time! We have unique paper tableware, gifts, greeting cards, balloons, and more. As a family-run store, we have the opportunity to really get to know our customers and their families, which brings me joy. Our customers come into Paper Fiesta with smiles on their faces because they are there to shop for a happy occasion — a birthday, housewarming gift, graduation, etc. I absolutely love it.
How did your store come to be? I found my love of paper goods and buying products at my previous job of 21 years. Once I realized I wanted something of my own instead of working for somebody else, I started taking classes at the Center for Women and Enterprise, met with a SCORE advisor, and met with an advisor from the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center. A lot of love went into opening Paper Fiesta.
Your store is on the 10-mile marker for the Boston Marathon. What is the significance for you? My husband, Walter, is an EMT for Boston EMS and was near the finish line when the Boston Marathon bombing happened. He texted me to tell me he was OK, but after I turned on the news I panicked until I finally heard from him again at 11 p.m.
One of his captains, at the end of the day, told Boston EMS that they “all ran the right way.” After surviving the terrorist attack, he was exceptionally grateful to be alive and still have all his limbs.
Before this, Walter was not a runner. After the bombings, he has run the Boston Marathon six years in a row.
Since then, we’ve become friends with survivors of terrorist attacks from all over the world, and the Boston Marathon has taken on a whole new meaning for us. We love that our store is at mile 10 of the marathon, in a building that has stood and watched over every Boston Marathon runner since the very first race.
What is something you’re especially passionate about? My passion is my family, and culture, and keeping the spirit of Guatemala alive for our children. Before COVID, we would have so many fiestas with family and friends, attend Guatemalan festivals in Providence and Waltham, listen to marimba, and eat yummy food. Unfortunately, that has all changed since COVID, and our celebrations look a lot different now.
What is one thing you’re especially grateful for? I’m grateful for my parents, who live at home with us. They’ve helped make my dream come true by being very active in our children’s lives and supporting us with whatever we need. I feel so blessed that they have worked so hard to give their children a better life, and that’s what I aspire to do for my kids.
What’s the most beautiful thing about Guatemala that you want your customers to know? Guatemala is a beautiful country with beautiful people. Unfortunately, you only hear about corruption and crime, but there is corruption and crime everywhere in the world. There are so many incredible places in Guatemala — Lago Atitlan has been named one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, Antigua is a popular destination spot, and there are lots of unique small villages surrounded by volcanoes. Guatemala is very bright, colorful, and exotic — there’s a lot to love.
What is your favorite product on your current display table for Hispanic Heritage Month? My favorite product that I have right now is the handwoven plastic tote bags with leather straps that are hand made in Guatemala. They are colorful, functional, and built to last!
What keeps you going as a mom? The love I have for my kids. I hope they see me as a role model. I want to show them you can accomplish anything with hard work and perseverance.