NSS 2015 Sneak Peek: Ferme à Papier

Aaaaah! The 2015 National Stationery Show is less than two weeks away! Today I’m excited to share the first sneak peek from an NSS 2015 exhibitor – Ferme à Papier by Cat Seto (Booth #2034)! For her newest releases, Cat is channeling a geometry theme that she’s calling “Golden Rectangle...harmony in geometry.” Cat is incorporating the golden ratio and rectangle into all aspects of organizing and giving with new Foiled Yearless Planners and Foiled greeting cards, along with an illustrated a set of friendship cards and a “Girl Power” art print.






Thanks Cat!

Photo Credits: Ferme à Papier

Lauren’s 2nd Annual Derby Day Party Invitations

You might remember these super fun Kentucky Derby Day party invitations from Lauren Chism last year – I loved the preppy navy and green color palette and stripes! Well, Lauren and her husband decided to make their Derby Day party an annual tradition, and I’m thrilled to share this year’s invitations today!


From Lauren: When it was time to design invitations for our annual Derby Day party, I felt the pressure to design another fun invitation (self-imposed of course). I loved how last year’s invitations turned out, so I wanted these to be equally as special, without overlapping in style since we were inviting a lot of the same people. I kept the color scheme the same-ish with cobalt blue and kelly green, but that’s where the similarities ended.



I wanted to wow guests right out of the mailbox, so I planned the envelopes as much as the invitations. I used white digital ink for the addresses, which just popped on the kraft paper and each envelope had a mix of vintage postage that I curated from various Etsy shops. From the horses to the roses, I don’t think I could have found more perfect postage for a derby party.



Wait, it gets better on the inside… the invitations were square gate fold format, but I had the back facing up, so that when guests open the envelope, the first thing they see is “2nd Annual Derby Day.” When they flip it over, the cards were sealed with a little bow-tie sticker. The green stickers popped on the background of patterns, inspired by jockey silks.




On the inside, I utilized the unique format to layout the party details. From the mint juleps and southern snacks to requesting guest wear ‘derby attire’, I made sure I all the information was there but love how the layout was simple and fresh. We had fun with the puns too: calling our house ‘Chism Downs’ and asking guests to RSVP with yay or ‘neigh’. Now, we just need to make sure our party is as much fun as the invitations!


Thanks Lauren!

Lauren Chism Fine Papers is a member of the Designer Rolodex – you can check out more of Lauren’s work right here!

Photo Credits: Lauren Chism Fine Papers

Hello Brick & Mortar: Packaging for Retail

I judge books by their covers, wine by its label and brands by their logos. I know the good stuff is on the inside, but I could ogle good packaging all day and have been known to buy things for reasons far divorced from utility. (I’d guess I’m not alone in this crowd.) Packaging may not seem like the sexiest topic, but good packaging is an invitation to purchase, and that’s an invitation we want to extend. –Emily of Clementine

Hello Brick + Mortar by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

First, the golden rule of retail packaging: They’re going to try to open it anyway. I know, you wrote “blank inside.” Customers will still look at me and ask “is it blank inside?” while opening the cellophane. I know, it’s sealed with a sticker. They will carefully peal back the sticker and reach for the card. I know, you labeled what’s inside and drew a little picture on the back showing the 6 different cards in a card set. Maybe they’ll ask me to open it. Why? I think it’s human nature. If you close something, people want to open it. Especially if it’s pretty. But let’s see if we can make your packaging something customers want to open, but instead choose to purchase and wait until they get home to break into. How? 90% of it is simple show & tell.

1. Tell them what’s inside. Pretty basic, but I receive a lot of beautiful, poorly labeled stationery. Is it a flat card? Is it blank inside? Is it a card set? How many card are in the set? Are they all the same or different? How big is that print? Is it a sticker or a mini-note? What’s it for….? I watch customers fumble through unclear packaging every day. Often, I can interrupt a quizzical look to explain what’s inside, but if I don’t, she’s stranded and will put it back down. If you don’t know what to include, try calling a friend and describing what the product looks like. Then find a well designed way to say the same thing. (Where? My vote is usually on the back. Unless you can make it work with the image.)

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

J. Falkner’s Perfect Little Notes use paper bands to tell what’s inside without interfering with the product. The bands are a slight deterrent for customers to open the box and allow retailers to slip the band off for a photo, and put it back on for customers. Win/win!

2. Show them what’s inside. In your online shops, you can clearly photograph and explain. In person, your packaging must speak for the contents. Unless you are packaging a single card or print that is clearly visible, you need to show what’s inside (with a photo, a great good drawing or innovative packaging). Every time customers pick up a box of cards, they’re asking “what’s inside? Answering this clearly increases the likelihood that your product will sell. (Where should you put this information? My vote is for the back if it’s a card/set/calendar or smack in the middle if it’s a tube.)

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Albertine Press letterpress library is one of the few products, I (happily) display without cellophane. The spine tells what’s inside and a quick flip open reveals the cards. The packaging itself feels like a gift and looks beautiful displayed in multiples.

3. Extend your branding. The cost of packaging increases the price of your products, but don’t make it a throwaway purchase. Good packaging makes your product feel like a gift, and if done well, can make an indelible mark that the customer returns to.


Scout’s Honor Paper packages her prints in stiff craft sleeves with a strong branded stamp on the front and back that tells the print name and size. Though she totally breaks my rule of showing what’s inside, I can easily take one print out to display and house the extras behind. 

4. Packaging should keep it together and look great. Do you want the parade of horribles? I’ve had cello sleeves crumple or split as customers shove cards back in; stiff cello boxes that pop open; sealed small notes that aren’t affixed within the package so they jumble, but I can’t adjust them without damaging the package; prints with crumpled corners after being dropped; boxes that obscure the card design; gorgeous prints, postcards and tea towels that no one buys because they have no idea what’s inside; closure stickers that pop open more than they stick; belly bands that come unstuck and end up all over the floor; twine that frays and looks frumpy; calendars and prints with no backing that slide to the floor; products that fade in the window; and (through fault of my own) a cello box or two melted each winter due to radiator proximity. Those horribles are not so horrible, but these are costs that retailers absorb, if a product remains poorly packaged we won’t take the risk. You can’t always avoid these pitfalls, but you can mitigate by simply using the packaging yourself: pack your product up, throw the box around, unpack it and leave it on a table for a few weeks. See which of your items still shine, and adjust the rest.

5. There’s no right answer. When in doubt, reach out to a retailer you trust or hop into your favorite store and see what’s working. You should decide on the packaging you want, but here are some considerations:

  • Single Cards – Cellophane sleeves are a must. I’m torn on whether a sleeve with the fold over seal is preferable. A little sticker on the back can tell the customer if the card is flat or folded, how big it is and whether the card is blank inside.
  • Card Sets – Card sets are the slowest sellers. I think they’re also the most vaguely labeled. You can only show one card on the front, but you can show and tell on the back of the box. How many cards are in there? Are they all the same (if not, please include a label with a photo or drawing), what color is the envelope? Tying it with twine can look pretty or obstruct your image. Stickers can make a pretty seal but the occasional customer that ignores the sticker’s purpose and opens it, leaves me with a damaged product.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Moglea’s vibrant packaging shows both envelope and note, while the sticker draws your eye from the front to the back of the box where you learn the details of what’s inside!


The cute peephole on the back of this card set from Blackbird Letterpress invites the customer to look closer while communicating basic info about this card set.

  • Tiny notes, gift tags, book plates, recipe cards  These things don’t often get much respect in a retail setting because they’re little and often confuse the customer. They benefit from super clear packaging, and a bit of personality to invite the customer to pick them up.



Emily McDowell draws people in with words alone. By the time customers read what her notes say, they’re already sold on the sentiment, with little need to even know the function.


  • Pads of paper, journals & notebooks – You guys, wars could be started over whether a notebook should have lined or unlined pages. Let the customer know upfront. Also, let them know how many pages are in there. Cello sleeves help keep the corners neat and the pages clean.
  • Prints – Customers often buy prints for gifts or quick decor, so including the dimensions is crucial. A sturdy piece of cardboard lets retailers display the print safely. Prints packaged in tubes are the most difficult to sell. I often have large prints professionally framed, but if the framed print sells, we’re back to the tube. A large color sticker is the best way to show what’s inside.
  • Calendars – Customers who are on a calendar hunt want the days to be in boxes, customers who fall in love with your designs don’t care! Either way, it’s nice to show the customer whether or not there are boxes and display each month on the back (customers want to see their birth month, it’s often what sells them.) Like prints, a sturdy piece of cardboard is helpful for display and protection. I see a lot of dual purpose calendars these days (eg, once used, each month can be a print!) I love this idea, but make sure it’s clear so the customer knows they’re getting two uses for the price.
  • Coasters – Coasters are one item where the packaging might be saved for storage, so this can be a great chance to extend your brand into a customer’s home.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful PaperRifle Paper Co’s coasters are packaged in boxes that make adorable storage for any other little thing. It’s a perfect extension of branding and makes the packing bridge into extended use.

  • Tea Towels – Tea towels are almost always displayed folded. To prevent constant unfolding, a nice wide belly band with an image of the opened towel can help. (Bonus: offer to send a sample to display if your retailer buys a certain quantity.)
  • Temporary tattoos – Temporary tattoos are often shared, or used as party favors, so people want to know how many they’re getting. I also think they look better on the body, so a photo of them in action is a super plus.


Tattly’s packing shows the products on (uh, adorable) models, then the back manages to be fun while describing exactly what’s inside.

  • All other beauties – You makers are so darn prolific, I can’t even keep up with all of the areas that you’re branching into, so I’ll leave you with something simple: let the product speak for itself. Let it guide the packaging and be ok with being simple. Sometimes, that’s the best approach.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

I’m utterly blown away by the beauty created by mixing the talents of Angela Liguori and Maybelle Imasa Stukuls. All I want to know is more about this ribbon, and Angela’s simple spool and clear font on a card give me just that. 

The final golden rule of packaging is this: if you have an innovative idea, go for it. All of this is open to your interpretation. I don’t like cello sleeves, but I’m pimping them out here because it’s the current best solution to selling cards. If you have a better idea, please, go on. As long as your packaging shows and tells what’s inside, you’re meeting your retailers’ needs. If you can make it inventive and even more fun, you’re taking a step further to extend your brand and build a relationship with your retailers and customers.

Search outside of the stationery world for ideas. When I need a bit of inspiration (like how to finish up this post) I pull a collection of items from Clementine to see where themes emerge. I love the packaging below for all kinds of reasons: font, color, utility. Mostly, because it draws you a step closer to the product, making the customer one step closer to falling in love and taking it home.

Hello Brick + Mortar: Packaging for Retail by Emily of Clementine for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Just another day in the shop, lost down a rabbit-hole of the beauty you all make via my Instagram.

I can’t wait to see what you pack up next! xoxoxo – Emily

Hello Brick & Mortar: Order Up!

If you’re in the mood for a simple nuts & bolts post, here it is: Ordering. Namely, how to get your retailers to do more of it. Assuming you like that sort of thing. ~ Emily of Clementine.


Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Let’s get gushy for a second: I love ordering. I devour your catalogs and squirrel them away. I take you to the beach and pull you out in front of the fire. At my shop, I’ll gladly fawn over issuu when I have 18 other things to do. Ordering is the dinner & dancing of our relationship. It’s where I commit and you send me a beautifully wrapped box. It’s the most fun.

Yet there are enough trips and starts in the ordering process that some orders are never started and others go unfinished. Let’s break it down and see how to get those orders coming in.

When and why do I make orders?

  • I make an opening order when: I fall for your cards & I think they will sell. Often, this is because you reached out personally (and maybe because you kept in touch).
  • I make a re-order when:
    • I run out of a several things that have sold well.
    • A customer requests something that has sold out.
    • A holiday is coming up (maybe).
    • You find a way to entice me.
    • You check in.
    • Your line fits and offers something new to customers.


A display of Birthday cards at Clementine. Color, size, variety. I often order based on how your line would complement my existing lines.


Your Catalog. Your Calling Card: 

The best catalogs (paper or online) have nice, bright photos and clear terms. Retailers are different, so ideally you have a paper and online option. Here are some pros and cons of each option:

  • Paper Catalog:
    • Pros: Well, we all love paper, so there’s that. Flipping, circling, dog-earring. I like them best when they’re mailed to my shop. I like them least when I’m lugging them through Penn Station.
    • Cons: I have to have it with me to order and I still have to write the order down and send it to you. Also, it seems to be standard for catalogs to have terms and prices in the front or back. This means I have to flip back and forth frequently (especially if you have cards, card sets, gift tags, prints….) This takes a while and is the #1 reason it takes forever to fill out an order.

NSS catalogs

Some of the catalogs that traveled home with me from NSS 2013. Pretty, but pretty doesn’t carry itself.

  • Issuu: Most of you use issuu, so I’m assuming most are familiar. I like it. I dont’ love it, but I like it.
    • Pros: It’s online so I can pull it up anytime. Your updates are instant. I don’t have to dig in my files. I can send you a quick order. You can link to it easily in emails to me.
    • Cons: I still have to write/email out my order and it’s harder to “flip” through if the prices/quantity requirements are at the back. Also, sometimes the format gets wonky, especially on an ipad.
  • Online: If you have good photos and an easy website, this is pretty much just a pro except that many (myself included) do love a tangible catalog. That aside, let’s look at several online options:
    • A wholesale site just for retailers. Shopping online is my ideal form and results in my most frequent orders, because it’s quick. Especially, if you have a large line.
    • Etsy Wholesale. Did you know Etsy has a wholesale site? I’m pretty smitten because it’s a one stop shop for me. You have to apply, but I think it’s a great option if you’re not ready to build your own online shop. Also, if you already have an Etsy site, I believe transferring products is pretty easy. (Don’t quote me on that, but I think the fabulous ladies of Etsy will be checking in on this post today, so feel free to ask questions!)
    • Your existing retail site with a wholesale code. If you sell online and haven’t built a wholesale shop, a great in-between step is to simply send your retailers a wholesale code for 50% off. You may still have to work out shipping, that’s ok.

Stop the presses! What haven’t you heard from me?

  • I have to fax something in. (Wait, I’m genuinely curious, do any of you receive orders by fax?) Requiring forms that I have to fill out and send is going to delay my order. Find a way to be flexible in gathering credit card and tax IDs so that all I have to do is hit ‘submit’ or wait for your call.
  • I like you too much. Counterintuitive, I know, but  I have several lines that I liked so much it took forever to complete the order because I was trying to whittle it down. This is why it’s so important to be in contact. Silence does not always mean I’m not interested. Personal contact or an incentive can put you at the top of the stack.
  • Your line is very large. Similarly, if you have 25 pages of product, deciding what to get can take a while.
  • Your photos aren’t great/Your terms aren’t clear. Look at your own website and have a friend critique it too. A tiny, dark or fuzzy photo wont sell itself even if the card is great in person. Similarly, if I can’t find terms or contact info clearly, I may delay.
  • Your order minimums are too high and/or are inflexible. I generally order in 6s (singles) and 3s (packs/prints) even when you don’t require, because your colleagues have conditioned me to do so. Ask around, see what’s standard. But also make sure minimums and terms make sense for your business. If you are ok with orders of any size, say so.
  • I never hear from you. When should you reach out? I covered that topic at length here. In short: ask each retailer what they prefer, and always be in contact a few times a year. If you are always too busy to reach out to your retailers, it might be time to hire a rep.

What makes me order (more frequently)?

  • Flexibility. If you accept orders via web, email and/or over the phone, I’m more likely order. I mean, I’m probably never going to call in an order, but making it clear that you’re flexible sends a message and I’m more likely to email you a quick order because I know you’re open to it.
  • You’re responsive and open to dialogue. This isn’t for everyone, but if you’re open to the idea of turning a card into a print, or altering your existing products, it could lead to a dialogue between us that strengthens our relationship and gives me a new stake in your products. Obviously not all ideas are good ones and retailers should never direct your creativity, but they can offer insights into what might sell that could help your brand grow.


Letter & Lark’s Woodland animals were singles. Colleen responded immediately to retailers’ desire to have them as a set. 


Scout’s Honor Co’s Antlers, was originally a card. I requested it as a print and Annemarie didn’t miss a beat saying yes. Also, take a page from this lady when you’re sending notes to retailers. 

  • Online, online, online. Look, I’m in the process of moving my shop, so I understand the feeling of being (incredibly) overwhelmed. If you don’t have an online wholesale shop, don’t fret. But I do make online orders far more frequently. I like to see the cards together and be able to adjust quantities in a cart. That’s something a paper linesheet can’t do (plus, the math).
  • Good photographs. I understand the ease of drawing your cards, but sketches are often very different from a letterpress card. Whenever possible, take a (nice, well lit) photo and upload at a visible size.
  • Social Media. I’ve been on the fence about how much social media affects my buying, but over the last few months I can say, without a doubt, that I’ve made orders based on sneak peeks or incentives I’ve seen (primarily on instagram, a bit on facebook).


Macon York’s Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Card which I saw on Instagram, had to have, and essentially started the order there.

  • I think you’re fantastic. I know, this is somewhat intangible, but my favorite lesson of the last few years is that I want to have business relationships based on kindness, humor, generosity and a bit of bravery. If you like a retailer’s aesthetic, be in touch. Don’t be turned off if they don’t reply to your intro packet, if they make a first order and then don’t re-order. I’ve built great relationships with people even when their line isn’t right for my shop, I love those conversations and I am always happy to talk about how a line may become right for my shop, or someone else’s. Stay in touch. We’re all busy. If you believe in your product, keep going.

Have another question about orders? Post it below! Also, are you getting excited for the Stationery Show? I am! But if you’re not going, I have a post for that too. Next time…

xo! Emily

Hello Brick & Mortar: Trends, Unsolicited Advice and Wild Ideas

Happy New Year! If your December was anything like mine, things got a little foggy. I woke up on New Year’s Day feeling a bit like Snow White after eating that apple. (Probably exactly how she felt, if she still had to finish her year-end accounting.) The point is, December is no time for wild ideas. But now it’s January, and a bit of reckless brainstorming is what launched us into the work we’re in. So, let’s get back at it. – Emily of Clementine


Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

I. Trends. Just so we’re on the same page, I am not a trendsetter. I live in Vermont, I just got on board with neon and I am decidedly not a fan of Pantone’s color of the year. That said, I am a creative-envelope pusher, professional brainstormer, and confessional for customer wishes. I also really love watching your lines grow, offering feedback, and cheerleading along the way. I want both of our businesses to grow. Here are a few opportunities that I see:


These message booklets from Side Show Press are fantastic

  • Calling Cards, with a Modern spin. Business cards aren’t obsolete, but I quickly recycle 97% of the ones I get. (Not your cards, they’re too pretty. You are the 3%). A lot of my customers concur – a stack of little, flat notes would be far more useful than business cards. A recent chat with Kimberly confirmed how functional (and fun) a beautiful flat card would be to leave with clients after a meeting, tuck into an online order, or as a sweet hello. You provide a great border and unexpected surprises.
  • More Flat Notes. This is the number one request I get: simple, flat stationery (this time card size, with an envelope). Everyone says they want to send more notes, but they don’t want fuss. Anna Beth told me these are called Buck Slips, which I’d never heard and I like, because I love little turns of phrases from your pocket of the world. Which reminds me…
  • More Colloquialisms. Those little sayings that your grandmother or your longtime neighbor said often make the best cards. Our southern sisters have an edge on this one, but everyone can try! My customers especially like new phrases to express love.
  • Postcard (sets). The folded card is clearly not trending. Building on the “flat notes” request above, postcards are often requested. They’re the quickest hello and the world can read them en route which makes them cheeky and nostalgic. To dip your toes in, I think they’d sell well for: Valentine’s Day, Just Because/Hello, Summer Camp (for parents to give to kids at camp drop-off) and thank yous.
  • Stationery, Plus. I love watching your lines branch out into new territory. If you’re itching for something new, these items are selling well and seem like a natural addition: coasters, wrapping paper, custom rubber stamps, pillows, pencil cases, notepads, temporary tattoos, candles, tea towels, journals, or matchbooks. Megan uses bits and pieces in her flowers and also suggests: more envelope accessories like stickers, stamps and washi tape.


Moglea can neon edge print anything to perfection, on a flat card no less

A final note on trends: Gold foil, neon, triangles, gem stones and foxes? I liken them to bangs: all of the cute girls have them and maybe you should too. But take it from a girl who has two cowlicks and super fine hair, some styles are not for you. Remember, as a buyer, I see a lot of what’s trending, I only need to see more if you do it really well. Otherwise, I want to see the things I haven’t even imagined yet.

II. Unsolicited Advice. My favorite. You don’t have to do any of these things, but I’d be thrilled to see your take on any of them:

  • More Stationery for Guys & Better Father’s Day Cards. You know your heart’s not quite in these, right? If you have an amazing card with a tie/golf club on it, ignore this, but otherwise, get out there and ask guys what they want. Trust me, they want to write quick notes on well designed stationery. Still not feeling it? Think about what makes men in history so compelling: They wrote. Fall back on images of your favorite writers, use that to spark some ideas.
  • Valentines and Thank You Cardsfor kids to give. Please don’t leave me alone on Feb 13th at CVS buying Lightning McQueen Valentine cards for my son’s classmates. There must be another option and you can make them.
  • Selection packs. Customers often want thank you and birthday cards in bulk, but they want variety. Do 2 of 4 designs, or 4 of 2. (Caveat: This may be one of those “things people request, I purchase and they never buy.” But I do think it’s a good idea.)
  • More Bibliophile Goods. Bookmarks, book plates, other biblio-inspired goodies? Yes, yes, and yes. Antique book covers, card catalogs and the architecture in athenaeums could inspire a pretty nice series of, say…calling cards.
  • Baby Shower Thank Yous & Forever Stamps. At my baby shower, my friend, Laura, graciously said, “don’t send us thank you cards.” I objected, but after Julian was born I honestly couldn’t remember if I had sent cards. The weight of her gift sank in. Since I’m not in the business of telling people not to send cards, I’d rather make it easy: A set of pre-stamped thank you cards makes the perfect gift and she can hand them to her right-hand woman to address while she’s opening gifts. Ta-da!
  • Think Beyond the Holiday or Sentiment. I can sell love all year, but Valentine’s Day cards only for a few weeks. When you’re designing cards, you don’t have to follow a prescribed calendar or topic heading (at least not for me). I always want: more love cards, uplifting sympathy cards, congratulations for endless occasions and new thank you cards.
  • Prints of your most popular cards. These sell. That’s all. (and you’ve already designed them!)


May Day Studio’s You Are My Sunshine is a lovely card and my best selling broadside print

III. Wild Ideas. Now we’re talking.

  • That Thing You Daydream About. Do it! I was a huge fan of Yellow Owl Workshop’s #getwise2013. It was so unexpected and delightful. I want more of this kind of thing. A lot more. Let’s make 2014 the year people have fun learning the difference between their, there, and they’re.
  • Wallpaper & Fabric from Your Designs. Both of these are niche markets and I probably couldn’t sell them, but boy-o-boy would I love to see them.


Yellow Owl Workshop made me smarter this year

  • Partnerships that lead to products. You have creative, skilled friends: Chefs, bartenders, florists, fabric designers, seamstresses, ceramicists, professors, stand-up comics, day-care teachers. How could you collaborate and produce something? I, for example, would love to see an OSBP illustrated cocktail series made into a set of flat cards – it would be the perfect hostess gift. (Ed Note: Ha! Okay, okay, I’m on it!)

I hope the new year brings you some down time with blank pages and new ink colors. I’d love to hear the wild ideas and trends you’re loving for in 2014…