Photos by Tec Petaja, Amanda Peterson, Leslie Mitchell, Austin Gros (all courtesy of Pencil + Paper Co.)

I’m thrilled to kick off the productive spirit of the fall season with this inspiring Talk Shop interview. I had the honor of chatting with Gen Sohr, the creative genius behind Pencil & Paper Co., a design company and lifestyle brand based in Nashville, TN.

I have been admiring Gen for a while now on Instagram — her taste is incredible and both her Instagram feed and blog are wonderful sources of inspiration for both home and personal style. I also have her color story art above my dining room table!

Gen and her husband Benjamin co-founded Pencil & Paper Co. when they moved home to Nashville from the West Coast where they held impressive positions at Gap Inc. Since launching P & P Co., they have worked on high profile projects, including with Reese Witherspoon on her Draper James flagship, as well as on their own gorgeous Nashville home. Read on below to find out more about Gen’s career, how she founded P&P Co., and her personal style do’s and don’ts.

Originally from:

Miami, Florida


Art Major


You and your husband met while working for Gap brands in San Francisco, and your backgrounds are both in retail / marketing. Could you please share a bit about your career prior to launching Pencil & Paper Co.? Did you always dream of starting your own company? 

GS: I began my career in retail with Banana Republic as a salesperson the summer prior to my senior year in college, and instantly fell in love!  The ability to combine my love of fashion, affinity for beautiful interiors, and having an intuitive understanding of marketing quickly landed me the role of District Visual Coordinator where I oversaw all merchandising and display for South Florida stores. Within months I was moving to  San Francisco to work with the Corporate Creative team that launched Old Navy. And to be honest, I never imagined starting our own company, but our desire to be in Nashville and continue our creative journey was the jumping off point for creating Pencil and Paper Co.

You made the move from San Francisco to Nashville which must have been a big change for your careers. How did you and your husband decide to make the move?

GS: Benjamin grew up in Nashville, and had a large extended family that was patiently waiting for his return back home. After having both lived and worked in really high pressure positions for ten years, we were both ready for a slower, southern pace and to be near family, buy a house and start a family together. Nashville was the ideal place for so many reasons! We feel so fortunate to have helped shape the incredible creative community that has put Nashville on the map as a design hub.

You are known for your bright, whimsical style and modern touches. What are your primary sources of design inspiration?

GS: Travel, art, and vintage textiles! Inspiration is everywhere- including Instagram!

You’ve worked with so many incredible people and brands. What are your favorite design projects to date?

GS: Hmmm, it’s so hard to choose just one! There is nothing more rewarding than creating a beautiful and functional living space for a client (or for yourself)! I will forever love the first home that we built from the ground up for ourselves. And of course launching our own P+P product is especially exciting.

What is the best part about operating your business out of Nashville? 

GS: The people! Southern hospitality y’all — it’s a real thing!


We love your personal style and your blog! How do you describe your signature style?

GS: Playful, pattern-filled, happy! Traditional with a modern twist — we love a colorful vintage print dress paired with more contemporary accessories.

Are your style preferences similar for both fashion and design? We love that you aren’t afraid of color and prints and would love to hear how your styling philosophy is similar or different for personal style and the home.

GS: Defining your personal style is key. Yes, our love of pattern, color, and vintage pieces mixed with more modern finds certainly carries through from the way we dress to the home that we live in. I’m a true believer in surrounding your self with things that bring you joy!

Currently coveting:

GS: A house in Harbour Island, Bahamas.

Favorite trends right now?

GS: Loving all the pretty midi-length dresses with feminine details!

Any trends you want to see go away?

GS: Anything that doesn’t flatter “you”….I’m a firm believer in finding what works for your body type. 

Be sure to follow Gen on Instagram @pencilandpaperco and drop any questions you may have for her in the comments below! xo