the Paper Chase

Gina Florez is the owner of Paper Chaser, a custom stationery and gift boutique located in The Galleria.

Paper has always been a part of Gina Florez’s life. When she was in law school, she wrote papers. When she was an intelligence analyst in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, she processed paper. And when she was flexing her crafting muscle, she created handmade invitations for weddings.

Now, Florez has made it her vocation by opening Paper Chaser, a custom stationery and gift boutique in The Galleria, in the space formerly occupied by Godiva.

Florez, who grew up on Mt. Washington, lives on Osage Drive, with her husband Gerson, an orthopedic surgeon who practices at St. Clair Hospital, and son, Xavier, 6, who attends St. Bernard School.

“I was always interested in art,” she says, but when she didn’t get in to the art program at Carnegie Mellon University, she decided to practice law. Her career path led her to become a state attorney in Miami, and she also worked for an art nonprofit, specializing in copyright law. In addition to Miami, she lived in Washington, D.C., Arlington, Va., and Philadelphia. But when Gerson’s work brought him to Pittsburgh, she warmly recalled her childhood days spent at the Mt. Lebanon Ice Rink and tossing pennies into the fountain at the Galleria. Mt. Lebanon became their home.

Florez says her specialty is custom invitations and stationery. Whether it’s a single card or a full set of invitations or baby announcements, she can design and make whatever the customer wants. The store has a kid’s corner, with items like pencils and stickers; other products include party items, journals, craft supplies and unique greeting cards. She offers workshops on topics like bookbinding and journaling, too.

Paper Chaser offers discounts to veterans and first responders. Hours are Sundays, noon to 5; all other days, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit the website.

Photo: Elizabeth Hruby McCabe