Our next installment of Behind the Stationery ventures up to New York and highlights Emily’s story from Hartland Brooklyn. From hand painting her first cards to walking her line sheet into a local stationery shop, Emily is here to share her stationery business story. Her journey takes us to upstate New York where she opened a quaint stationery storefront, office, and home — all in one building. Hartland Brooklyn has always put a priority on making eco-conscious goods, and Emily explains how her printing process has shifted as she’s grown her business. Welcome, Emily! –Megan Soh
From Emily: Since I was a little girl, I always knew I would be in a creative field, and most likely have my own business. My grandmother is a watercolor painter and my mom has a dried flower farm, and they both were huge influences growing up (and still are!). I saw that you could make your living off of something you love to do. I set off to NYC for college to study fashion design, and worked for about 6 years in both small and large fashion companies. This is where I learned the ins and outs of design, running a business, and found my creative voice.
I began making birthday cards at my desk for co-workers, and soon their friends and family. With some encouragement I set up an Etsy shop and started selling my hand painted cards. The beautiful stationery store Papel was around the corner from my apartment in Brooklyn, and I brought my tiny line sheet and samples in to share. They placed an order and became my first wholesaler, and from there Hartland took off!
I worked from my apartment for a year or so, then moved to a tiny studio in Greenpoint the following year. I quickly grew out of that space as well, and while looking for a new studio I started looking upstate. An old general store 2 hours north of NYC caught my eye, when my husband and I saw that the post office was located across the street, I knew it was meant to be.
Since the building had a storefront, we decided to open a card and coffee shop. I designed the wallpaper, and we worked with a few local contractors to build out the space. Hartland on Hudson opened fall 2016. My husband runs the coffee/card shop and I run Hartland Brooklyn from behind the storefront.
All my designs are hand illustrated with ink, then imported to the computer to color. This way I can edit and add the neon Pantone colors that are the core of Hartland Brooklyn.
I’m always jotting down card ideas, and find inspiration all around me. I come up with the best ideas while traveling, since you’re removed from so many distractions. I sometimes end up designing new cards when I have an occasion to give a card and realize I don’t have the perfect one. In each new design, I make sure it’s something that I would be excited to give to someone. Ideas can come from many sources — I am particularly inspired by nature at the moment with our new life in the country.
Each card is offset printed with added neon pigment in Brooklyn, NY. We work with a wonderful printer who is eco-conscious and prints with vegetable-based ink. We’ve worked together to match our neon Pantone colors and have had great success. I also love to add foil stamping, which is stamped in midtown Manhattan. I chose a felted paper to give it a hand-painted feel.
When I first started Hartland Brooklyn I didn’t have the minimums to offset print, so I was hand painting the neons on the cards (it was very labor-intensive). This way I could test styles and see what works, without investing all my money into printing thousands of cards. With the quantities I now order, the neons can be printed, which gives me the ability to add even more color and saves me an incredible amount of time.
I think the graphic illustrations and color palette are a unique combination. The paper is felted, which gives it a hand-made feel. I’ve recently introduced wrapping paper sheets, with my added neons that I haven’t seen in the market. I’m hoping to expand on these, since I love patterns and it feels so new in the line.
We also offer soy-based temporary tattoos and nail tattoos.
I try not to pay attention to what other companies are doing. I like my ideas to come from my life and experiences and not from short-lived trends. I also try and keep it fun, so people can send a little happiness with every card.
Our typical workday is a little more complicated now that have a newborn. It’s been interesting finding a good work/life balance. We live above the studio, so I can take my time coming down to work or pop in and out and check on the status of orders. I think I was away from the office for about 3 or 4 days after Olive was born..! I can’t stress how thankful I have been for the people I have helping me pack cards, since every second free is more valuable now!
Once the shop closes at 3 (and my husband can watch the baby if she’s not napping) I spend some time shipping out orders, and we run everything to the post office by 4:30.
Thanks so much for stopping by Emily!