christmas + new year’s


Letterpress Christmas Ornaments

So this is the time of year that nearly every designer is busy cranking out their holiday collections – from holiday cards to gift wrap sets and gift tags – and this year I'm already seeing tons of amazing holiday stationery starting to make its way into the shops.  So instead of saving it all for a big mondo round-up or two, I thought this year I might collect them into groups of three or four and share them gradually over the next few weeks.  If you're browsing around, you'll be able to find them all under the holiday category from the sidebar.  Sound like a plan?

First up, some fantastic letterpress ornaments from Moontree Press, which I've been dying to share here for weeks now:

6a00e554ee8a2288330120a6819b5c970c 500wi Letterpress Christmas Ornaments

6a00e554ee8a2288330120a62a73de970b 500wi Letterpress Christmas Ornaments

6a00e554ee8a2288330120a62a744d970b 500wi Letterpress Christmas Ornaments

Aren't these lovely?  The ornaments currently come in four patterns, which you can find in the Moontree Press shop right here.  More holiday goodies to come soon!

{image credits: Moontree Press}

Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

This was going to be a nuts-and-bolts post about orders, but January has been full of ups (new ideas, new vendors!) and downs (all of the germs from daycare in my home/nose). Effectively useless at work, I had time to ruminate: As retailers and stationers, we’re often on opposite sides of the business equation, but our bond as small, creative business owners ushers us into the same boat. As a woman hell-bent on the belief that a rising tide lifts all ships, I thought I’d focus this post on how we can continue to swell the tide for our businesses in 2014. All aboard!  – Emily of Clementine

OSBP Hello Brick and Mortar Clementine by Emily McDowell Illustration Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

1. We’re in this together. Let’s start with the obvious: Owning a small business is hard. Whether you’re a retailer, stationer or small business owner, there are lonely times. It is more rewarding that anything we ever imagined, but let’s also assume we’ve all cried on the bathroom floor and vowed to go back to a 9-5. I don’t find blog lists about achieving that elusive work/life balance particularly helpful. However, when I connect with other small business owners to share tips and resources, I am buoyed and my business grows stronger. In that vein, here are my tops:

  • Gather together. Most of us work alone, which is great, except when it’s not. Last year, I organized an informal group of small-business owning women. We have drinks and unpack the tough stuff (shipping, taxes, online sales), volley ideas, cheer each other on, and three of us spun off to create a great pop-up shop. I am always flush with love for them. Because they get it.
  • Listen in. I’m a huge fan of Design Sponge’s Biz Lady columns. Even better for the multi-tasking small-business owner: Grace Bonney’s new(ish) podcast, After the Jump. You can listen while making dinner, or packing orders.
  • Adopt a Mentor. She doesn’t even need to know you’ve adopted her. I devour everything Rena Tom writes/compiles. She’s smart, on-point and makes you feel like your small business is a part of something greater. Want a snippet?

“I met more people who were doing their own thing, and that actually meant more women. My friend Maggie calls this The Lady Web. It’s a mystical land where women recommend other women to each other and get shit done. We joke about it, but it kind of exists.” Sound familiar? Read more: here.

  • Consider your strengths. Take/retake a Meyers Briggs, or other personality test. Revel in your skill set, write it down, start telling people. When clients ask you to take on projects, reply based on a knowledge of your strengths. Recommend people you admire if you can’t take the project on. Also, think about what you’re not good at and…
  • Offload the thing that makes you want to hide under the covers. I recently interviewed a bookkeeper and had to refrain from hugging her. My bookkeeping is not hard and doesn’t take long, but it hangs over my head every day. It’s time to pay someone to do it.
  • Indulge. Vacation, massage, art class, perfume, I don’t care what it is, if it brings you joy, please do it. Small business-owning is beyond full-time, find your way to turn it off.
  • Share your tips and resources. The comments section here is a great start, in-person is even better.

OSBPbrunchtherapy Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

Brunch/Group Therapy with my ladies at the delectable, Vergennes Laundry.

2. Brunch Is The New Golf. I’m not trying to justify my degree in feminist theory with this point, I’m just genuinely excited that so many small businesses are thriving because good people are connecting, rather than because people with connections are playing golf. So let’s keep connecting:

  • Start a Biz Ladies/Dudes group. Did we already cover this? It’s that important. Reach out to people you know well and those you barely know. Especially people you barely know. Give praise, ask for advice on something you’re struggling with. This is where the magic happens. Make coffee dates a priority. Schedule brunch.
  • Use social media to highlight fabulous businesses around you. Connections are made and businesses are growing because of social media. Pinterest can (with proper links/credit) generate free interest in the products you covet (and, in return, the products you make that others covet), Instagram can grow your personal and professional community and give you a way to preview and gather feedback for your work, Twitter can make you a relevant part of conversations in your field. If you want these things for your business, use these platforms to highlight other businesses you admire.
  • Be generous with information. You may not want to share your amazing source for radiant orchid envelopes, but when you do share the vendors who treat you well and the systems that make your life easier, the benefit will undoubtedly come back in your favor when you need it. I am always impressed with the gracious and generous spirit of the stationery community. Trade Show Bootcamp is a stellar example of this.
  • Say thank you, give praise, and be kind. I know, this is precariously close to hokey, but I can assure you that these things have done wonders for my business, and my happiness.

kindnessisthenewblack Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

Found via Pinterest (anyone know the original source?)

3. You’re killing it. So, keep killing it.

  • Now is the time to hone your lineIf you’re brimming with ideas, wonderful, go create. But editing is just as important. Don’t be afraid to cut that card that sells well if you can’t stand it. It’s your line.
  • Gather your cheerleaders, confidants & critical thinkers. I have a rotating list of 60+ people who I can call on for quick advice, legitimate feedback and just general cheer. I barely know some of them but they’re all invaluable to making my business thrive.
  • Don’t go to the places that make you feel unworthy. Whether it’s scrolling twitter, reading about the habits of highly successful people or attending a conference or trade show. Go if it pushes your comfort zone, don’t go if it makes you feel unworthy or exhausted.
  • Gather inspiration, create a spot that sparks your creativity, and visit it often. Mine are the Shanna Murray decal next to my desk, Sibella Court’s books, past episodes of Man Shops Globe, and the teepee I gave my son for Christmas, which I totally re-appropriated for late night ordering. (I highly recommend getting one and pretending it’s for your children.)latenightteepee Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

For what it’s worth, I think you’re great. Regardless of whether I sell your work at my shop, and even if I do, no matter how quickly it sells. I’m excited that you’re doing what you’re doing and can’t wait to see what comes next.

Wilke quote SSP 600x600 Hello Brick & Mortar: We’re in this together (also, You’re Killing it)

Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press, Instagram series: #EvasEverydayLettering

Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel-Aged Manhattan

It feels like just yesterday that we featured the Manhattan, one of the world’s simplest and most perfect cocktails. But it turns out that was all the way back in May, about eight months ago. Which goes to show how quickly you can lose track of time when you have a full plate at home. Ahem and anyway. As I was saying, the Manhattan is pretty much perfect just the way it is, but there is one way you can improve on that perfection: barrel aging. It’s easier than it sounds, and plenty worth it, so give it a try. – Andrew

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 35 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Card Barrel Aged Manhattan Shauna Lynn Illustration Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Barrel-Aged Manhattan

8 oz Bourbon and Rye Whiskey
4 oz Sweet Vermouth
8 Dashes Aromatic Bitters

Combine the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters in a glass bottle. Add in a barrel-aging stave (more on this later). Wait as long as you can – give it a week at least, and longer if you can stand it. When you’re ready to serve, pour out a few ounces over ice and enjoy!

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 5 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged ManhattanOSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 34 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

A Manhattan is a fantastic drink, oaky and spicy and richly masculine. A barrel-aged Manhattan is even better: all of those things but even more complex, adding additional woody notes and smoothing out any rough edges. A barrel-aged Manhattan is a tremendously mellow drink, with deeply rich flavors. It’s worth the wait.

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 23 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

I had my first barrel-aged Manhattan at District Commons, one of our favorite DC restaurants (make sure to get the pretzel bread with beer mustard butter). This was ages ago, but I loved it so much that I’ve been meaning to make one ever since. Then Nole got me a glass decanter, the perfect size for aging a small batch of cocktails, and some barrel-aging staves for Christmas, because she’s the best. So I finally got my chance.

Like District Commons, I made mine with a blend of different bourbon and rye whiskeys – this sort of project is perfect for using up the last little bit from the bottles of whiskey in your bar (you know, so you can use them up faster and make room for new bottles). I’m a big fan of Dolin’s sweet vermouth and Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters for my Manhattans, but I recommend playing around with ingredients until you find the combination that works best for you.

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 14 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged ManhattanOSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 19 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

There are a couple of ways of barrel aging a cocktail. You could, if you wanted to make a lot, buy an actual barrel, like one of these from Tuthilltown Spirits. The smallest starts at a liter, so this is something of an investment – but could be totally worth it if you really love the cocktail you’re aging. A barrel of aged cocktail could also make for a fantastic gift for another cocktail enthusiast. (Just make sure to soak the barrel in water before you pour in your cocktail ingredients, or you risk having your cocktail seep our all over your counter.)

OSBP Signature Cocktail Recipe Barrel Aged Manhattan 42 Friday Happy Hour: A Barrel Aged Manhattan

Or, you could go the more modest, and much easier route for smaller batches: barrel-aging staves for steeping in a bottle of spirits. Tuthilltown Spirits, again, sells really handy wooden staves, fire-charred and carved to maximize surface area. Yeah, this is the sort of thing you could make yourself if you wanted, but at a few bucks a pop, I think they’re worth it.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Happy Holidays!

OSBP Holiday Wreath 2013 Happy Holidays!

And just like that, it’s Christmas Eve! We’re spending a quiet Christmas right here in DC, just the three of us. And I can’t wait. The last few months have been such a crazy whirlwind, and I’m looking forward to a few days with nothing but my two favorite people in the world. It’s just what we need at just the right time.

I’ll be recapping some of my favorite posts from 2013 over the next week before returning with brand new content in 2014. I wish you all an absolutely wonderful holiday, and I’ll see you back here soon! xoxo