Behind the Stationery: INK MEETS PAPER

Today we’re highlighting the duo behind INK MEETS PAPER, Allison and Jamie Nadeau! Allison is here to share their story with us, including how they split work as a partners, their design process from developing concept sketches to getting ready for pre-press, and why they focus solely on letterpress printing. In line with their motto “Text less. Write more.” the INK MEETS PAPER studio serves as both a letterpress studio and also hosts calligraphy classes. Welcome, Allison! Megan

Ink Meets Paper - Studio

From Allison: We’re Allison and Jamie Nadeau, co-owners of INK MEETS PAPER. Prior to running INK MEETS PAPER full time, I was a copy editor, and Jamie was an interaction designer at a software company. Our love of art and creative expression has always been a part of who we both are (and we’ve worked on various creative projects together). INK MEETS PAPER initially started as a side/hobby project back in 2006, when I designed and printed custom stationery and invitations for friends and family. The love for the craft of letterpress printing came in 2008 with a class at a local art gallery/studio in Charleston. After spending so much time behind the screen, we realized how refreshing it was to be so hands-on and involved in the physical process of creating a printed piece. That same year, we purchased a 1,000+ pound Chandler & Price platen press.

Ink Meets Paper - Jamie and Allison

As we became comfortable printing on antique equipment, we started to explore more segments of the paper industry (stationery/greeting cards, wedding invitations, custom printing for others). In particular, the idea of connecting people with handwritten correspondence really resonated with both of us, and we saw greeting cards as an accessible way of encouraging people to text less and write more. With that passion for the handcrafted and the handwritten, we launched the INK MEETS PAPER wholesale line in 2010.

Ink Meets Paper - Collection

Our studio is located in the Park Circle neighborhood of North Charleston, SC. Our building was a former convenience store, and it was just a big open space when we first signed our lease. Along with painting the exterior, we also added a glass-walled pressroom and a few other walls to further divide the space into different work areas (inventory/shipping, computer/desk area, retail/showroom, and a big flex space in the middle). One of my favorite parts to our studio is the enormous windows at the front—they let in so much natural light, and it does wonders for making the whole space feel bright and cheery.

Ink Meets Paper - Studio Windows

Letterpress printing is our only focus, and we’ve really been able to become comfortable with that process. I love the constraints it provides, and we’ve both grown stronger as designers since we started letterpress printing. Our greeting card line is known for hand-lettered and illustrated details paired with fresh and original sentiments. We’re decidedly not snarky, and lots of inspiration for our card sentiments comes from relationships (often our own), and the sweet or quirky phrases that come from those. Our company is a big proponent of the power of the handwritten note — we believe that with each card sent, the world gets a bit more love and humanity. Our motto is “Text less. Write more.”

Ink Meets Paper - Text Less Write More

Jamie and I are both full time at INK MEETS PAPER, and we also have a part-time employee. We’re a small, but mighty, team, and I’m consistency amazed by how much our team accomplishes. A typical day starts with coffee (of course!), and we’re usually all in the studio by 9 am. Our employee packages and ships any new orders, and then restocks inventory and works on other studio tasks. Each final card is assembled by hand — slipping it into the cellophane sleeve and affixing a product label.

Ink Meets Paper - Packaging Cards

I start most mornings by responding to emails before reviewing the print queue for the day or tracking the progress of other projects, whether internal (like a new greeting card release) or external (a custom wedding invitation suite). As both our creative director and printer, I have the opportunity to be involved in each of our projects through from start to finish. Balancing time between production and design can be a bit challenging at times, but it’s very rewarding to see a vision come to life when that first print comes off the press!

Ink Meets Paper - Printing

Jamie handles the operations and technology side of our business, as well as managing all of our branding. She reserves mornings for the most mentally taxing tasks of the day, which can range from long-term business planning and strategy to technical operations for our websites and spends afternoons on projects ranging from pre-press work to graphic layouts.

Ink Meets Paper - Jamie

We both agree that a big challenge is growing the business while also running the business. We wear so many different hats that maximizing efficiencies is super important, and we’re consistently trying to make our systems and processes better. And this is where we also rely on technology to keep everything running smoothly.

While I’m the creative director, our design process is very collaborative. After deciding what card categories (birthday, encouragement, etc.) we’re including in a release, we have a brainstorming session to come up with various sentiments. I keep a big folder of ongoing ideas, so we’ll also see if any of those really resonates. We work really hard to be both authentic and heartfelt (without being sappy). With greeting cards, people really gravitate towards what a card says. Even though all of our cards are a blank on the interior, the exterior message gives them a starting point for writing their own messages. From there, we pare down our favorites and look at how they feel for the collection as a whole.

Ink Meets Paper - Allison

Next, I start simple concept sketches — all of our cards start with actual physical artwork. We introduced colored paper stocks to our line last year, and I also reference those paper swatches when sketching. I want to make sure that the design not only works with the sentiment but also the paper stock it’s on. All of our designs are hand lettered and hand drawn. Lately, I’ve enjoyed pairing more abstract patterns with simple, understated lettering. We’ll review the sketches and slowly the new release begins to take shape. From there, I’ll begin producing the final artwork that we’ll scan into the computer for any clean-up and color work. Since letterpress printing is done one color at a time, I produce the final, scan-ready artwork in black ink but divided by color.

Ink Meets Paper - Sketching

Refining the color palette is probably the hardest part — there are so many beautiful colors! I typically gravitate towards blues and greens (probably the result of living on the coast). To make production run more efficiently, we have a master file for all the Pantone colors that we use in our line. This makes it easier to choose colors and reprint, since we reprint all cards that contain a certain Pantone color simultaneously. Any new ink colors are documented, and we’re constantly looking at our greeting card line as a whole to ensure it feels focused and cohesive.

We’ll hold another design review focusing on color and overall artwork. We also make a printed mockup of each card design. Even though it doesn’t remotely compare to seeing/feeling the actual letterpress-printed piece, seeing the design to scale is really important. Jamie and I are really comfortable giving and receiving feedback with one another, and we know the other person will offer a completely honest critique. Any changes are made, and we start the pre-press process in order to make a photopolymer plate for printing. This is also the time where we assign SKU numbers and item names, as well as document the ink and paper colors used.

Behind the Stationery: Ink Meets Paper

Production is the next step, and this is where it really starts coming together. I plan out our production schedule based on Pantone color (including any cards that we’ll also be reprinting). Big stacks of paper are trimmed down on our vintage paper cutter in preparation for print. Inks are mixed according to a formula specified in the Pantone guide. Color by color, each sheet of paper is hand-fed into the press. After everything is printed, I send each card through the press to be scored (which allows the paper to fold without cracking). Most of our cards are two colors, which means they go through the press three times before heading to assembly and inventory.

Behind the Stationery: Ink Meets Paper

Printing the finished cards aren’t the final job though. All new designs need consistent product photography for our wholesale website and soon-to-launch retail site. We also discuss an overall marketing plan for the new release and ensure we have styled photography shots to accompany the plan. Along with the digital updates, we also design printed supplements for the spring/winter releases and then produce a new print catalog each May.

All photos courtesy of INK MEETS PAPER.

Want to be featured? Reach out to Megan at megan[at]ohsobeautifulpaper.com for details.

Behind the Stationery: 9th Letter Press

Welcome to Behind the Stationery! After a brief hiatus, we’re excited to jump back into this fan favorite series with behind the scenes peeks and advice from some of our favorite stationers. Today we’re joined by Isabel Davis, the designer and owner behind 9th Letter Press. Isabel is here to share her story with us, including how she decides which designs make it to print, how she ruthlessly edits her collection each quarter to keep inventory under control, and her design secret for making sure her collection stays true to brand. Welcome Isabel! –Megan

Behind the Stationery: 9th Letter Press

From Isabel: 9th Letter Press is in the heart of Winter Park, Florida. Our studio houses every part of our business — our letterpress, production and assembly, office area, and retail store. We moved in almost in five years ago and haven’t looked back since. We love our location, even if at times it does feel like we’re literally swimming in paper, envelopes, cardboard boxes, and tissue paper.

Behind the Stationery: 9th Letter Press

The stationery world is a saturated industry and I had to come to terms with the breadth of stationers out there — it’s grown tremendously since I first started! At first, I tried to offer so much and so many things to keep up. But after a while, I noticed our best sellers were the products I started the business with: charming and whimsical stationery with a blend of pretty and quirky lettering (bonus points if I could wrangle in an illustration).

Behind the Stationery: 9th Letter Press

Today, I’m still of the same mindset and happiest designing and selling letterpress and foil printed greeting cards. If I get a really great notepad idea, I’ll for sure do it if I just LOVE it. Our Grocery List and Meal Planner is the perfect example. It continues to be a bestseller, so I’ll be coming out with a new design for May. Basically, if I love it and if it’s true to us and our brand, we’ll run it. I only want to offer what I personally love, which might mean offering less. But learning that I didn’t have to do it all freed up space to concentrate on products that work well for us, and our assortment.

Behind the Stationery: 9th Letter Press

9th Letter Press Grocery Meal Planners

We’re a very flexibly run enterprise. Everyone knows their job and a typical day looks different for each position. Our Wholesale Coordinator is in every day, and hers looks like the typical 9-to-5. However, if we’re hosting workshops in the studio, or pop up shops around town, she’ll adjust her hours so her life isn’t 9th Letter Press, all day every day.

Our printer works to keep up with our ever changing inventory, and the season might demand she puts in more hours to make sure we have enough of everything we need. On our production and assembly end, there are days we have lots of orders to get out the door, and other days it’s slower. That’s been true for us since we’ve started. Whenever we go through a busier season, I’ll make sure to hire more part timers to package and ship orders.

9th Letter Press Ink + Paper

As for me, I’m the sole designer at 9th Letter Press, as well as the Instagram poster, buyer for our retail shop, and point person for any pop-ups or events. My to do list varies from day to day. Usually it means planning and coming up with new card ideas for the upcoming buying quarter, or keeping up with the website. I try to post on social media at least once a day, and once that’s done, I’m emailing potential custom design clients (anyone from brides to people needing birthday party invitations). Sometimes, I’ll reach out to prospective shop owners and send samples, too. It just depends on the needs of the day.

9th Letter Press Store + Production Side

As a night owl, my creativity comes roaring to life some point after 11PM. I keep a notebook with me at all times, and I’ll jot down phrases that might make great cards. Most of the time, I’m designing something because there’s a need for it. This year we’ll be coming out with new bachelorette cards, which is a first for us. There is always something new to try. A new angle. A new way of saying something. I get so excited when I’ve stumbled onto a fresh take on a birthday card.

9th Letter Press Isabel Sketching

Once I get my idea, I’ll start drawing and lettering. I really prefer to only start designing once I have an idea in my head. Sessions that begin that way always fare better than when I’m “forcing” something into creation. I always design in black ink to ensure our style stays true to 9th Letter Press. Once I’ve scanned in the sketch, I’ll add color. But I’ve found starting with the same color/ink ensures I’m staying under our umbrella brand. If I started using watercolor, or gouache paint, etc., it wouldn’t feel like 9th Letter Press.

9th Letter Press Card Sketching

It used to be only me that saw the new design before it went to print – not so anymore. Over three years ago we started having a “line review” where the team, plus friends who I trust, come to the studio to discuss each new card. Over lunch, we’ll vote on each one. (You can imagine how nerve-wracking this is!) Only the cards that score high for everyone make it into our new releases for that quarter and ensures that all new cards have a shot at becoming bestsellers.

9th Letter Press Computer Sketch

With each line review, we also ruthlessly discontinue cards. If we don’t, our inventory turns into a scary beast — unmanageable and too expensive to keep up with. I always look at a report that tells me what cards haven’t sold well in the last year, and no matter how much I personally love it, the card is transferred onto our discontinued list. I used to get sad about this, but in the end pruning our inventory has meant keeping only the cards that continue to pull in business.

9th Letter Press Card

Once we’ve landed on the winning designs, I’ll turn around and make sure the files for the letterpress cards are ready to be turned into plates. We locally outsource the foil printing, so that basically means the same thing except I’m doing press checks at their facility instead of in house.

My favorite day is seeing the finished card, all shiny and new, and come to life from my sketchbook. Then I usually say a prayer that it’s well-received and finds a home in a cute mom and pop shop somewhere in the country. 😉

9th Letter Press Isabel

All photos by Soo Peterson Photography and Isabel Davis.

Want to be featured? Reach out to Megan at megan[at]ohsobeautifulpaper.com for details.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

For this installment of Behind the Stationery, I’m thrilled to bring you a former fellow Brooklynite, Katie Gastley of Idlewild Co. on the blog sharing about her first wholesale order, what prompted a transition to a Florida office, and how she hand paints every design (!) that Idlewild produces. Cheers and take it away, Katie! –Megan

katie_painting

Ever since I can remember, I have always loved making things. Anything. Be it paintings, jewelry, ceramics, recipes, I’m in my prime when I’m creating. I moved from Pennsylvania to Brooklyn in 2002 to attend Pratt Institute, an Art and Architecture school focused on building a core fine art foundation; quite literally the perfect school for me! While refining all of my technical design skills that I use today to manufacture Idlewild Co.’s various products, I was also able to keep painting; something I found as more of a necessity to how I function rather than a hobby.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

Upon graduation, I worked in various print and web design fields and built a small Etsy business on the side selling prints of my original paintings. I exhibited in my free time, selling my art prints in cafes and at various NYC craft festivals. One of my friends from college invited me to see her booth at the National Stationery Show; when I walked into the Javits Center and saw rows and rows of mega-creative-talent, and they were predominantly women-owned business… I was hyped! I knew I had found something special, and all of a sudden the direction of my side-business became a very focused goal. I was going to form a small collection of greeting cards, and apply for next year’s show.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

At the time, I was working as a designer at Martha Stewart, another business run by smart and creative women (there’s a theme here…) and my nights were spent painting, printing, and packaging a small range of greeting cards and hand-bound notebooks to debut at the show. I knew a bit about selling through my experience at the local shows in New York, but figuring out my pricing and policies took quite a lot of work at the beginning.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

I started the first batch of production with the only savings I had, and away I went to my first National Stationery Show booth built with the help of family and friends. My literal first sale was almost a disaster as I unknowingly applied NY State sales tax to a wholesale order. (Disclaimer: That is NOT how it works, but I was so thoroughly traumatized by the process of applying for a State Tax ID and wrapping my brain around its rules and guidelines, I was more than willing to hand over more than my fair share of taxes. Well, times have changed on that matter, my friend!) My buyer looked at me like I was an idiot and shared words that will probably forever echo in my mind: “Um, wholesale orders DO NOT pay tax.” Yeah, ok. Very shaky, but I had made my first sale, and it was quite a large one. Thankfully she looked past my rookie mistake – and they are still a current reseller of ours!

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

Running my business during the weekends out of my Brooklyn apartment became more and more difficult to manage during my already 50-hour long work week. I knew a change was in sight. It wasn’t possible to manage quitting my full-time job and running a hardly-profitable small business in the most expensive/greatest city in America, so my fiancé and I moved to the next-best place: the beach. He grew up in a small town on the Atlantic coast in Florida, and I was able to focus entirely on building my business.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

Progress was slow but steady and I was eventually able to afford a separate studio, then part time employees, and finally a full-time manager to oversee our wholesale partnerships, and studio manager to oversee our order fulfillment and inventory. With each step of growth I was able to allocate a little bit of the day-to-day “business” responsibilities to my employees, and devote more of my own time to creating new designs and prototyping new product categories.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

All of the designs at Idlewild Co. are created using my hand-painted artwork. Beginning with a sketch idea, I paint the final artwork and hand-lettering before scanning everything into the computer where any necessary tweaks are made, from color correcting to layout revising. After dropping the final artwork into specified mechanical files, they’re passed onto our local print partners for production. Most of our products contain a lot of color, so we use offset printing methods for the majority of our line. This gives us unlimited color options on press, which is important when replicating paintings.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

We don’t have the bandwidth or physical space to print our products in-house, so it’s absolutely necessary (and invaluable) for us to have a local printer we can work hand-in-hand with on our particular method of production. After the items have been printed and trimmed to their respective specifications, the final pieces are returned to our studio for packaging and finishing – and eventually fulfillment via our retail website or wholesale distributions.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

Currently, we’ve been expanding our line to include gift and accessory items; still based on our hand painted art. We’ve recently debuted our pen collections and enamel keychains, and are enjoying the challenge of working out the tricky details of manufacturing once you move to a 3-dimensional model. We’re currently in the process of planning a suite of notebooks that will debut at NYNOW in January.

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

It has now been 3 years since I moved from Brooklyn, and I’m thrilled at the company Idlewild has become. A never-ending creative outlet for my maker-focused mind, haven, and collaborative hub for local artists, and perhaps what I’m most proud of: a woman-owned and women-operated small business. The team of “Idle-Ladies” I have the pleasure of working with keep our engines running smoothly, wholesale orders processed efficiently, products packaged beautifully, and orders shipped timely. We’ll keep making cards for as long as people enjoy sending them!

Behind the Stationery: Idlewild Co.

All photos by Idlewild Co.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant

Hello! My name is Nichole and I am the Chief Dreamer and designer at Coral Pheasant on the Connecticut shoreline. I am delighted to be guest blogging on my favorite stationery spot on the web this week, and I’m excited to share some of my work and behind the scenes with you. I’m a paper nerd with a penchant for beautiful typography, gorgeous patterns and thick, luxurious stock. Custom invitations are my specialty. I adore clients who respect etiquette and tradition, appreciate the rules, and break them just a bit to create a hip, on-trend, thoughtful and highly personalized stationery suites.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Art has been in my blood for as long as I can remember and my parents encouraged my pursuits wholeheartedly. One of my earliest memories of creating was building my dollhouse with my father. Everything on that miniature house was handcrafted from laying the chimney brick by little brick, to wallpapering the walls, to building the furniture. I delighted in working with my hands to make sure the tiniest of details was perfect. In college, I pursued my love of design by enrolling in a Fine Arts program and graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.  It was during those four years that I became infatuated with typography and knew I had found my calling.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

The vendors that we hired for our wedding quickly became friends and I was invited to collaborate with them on editorial shoots. My involvement in these creative projects and their support was the kick in the pants I needed to formally develop my stationery business. For the next two years I worked both my corporate job and my own business. In 2012, I attended the Engage! Luxury Wedding Conference and had the great fortune of meeting Sarah Haywood, one of Britain’s top wedding planners. It was this serendipitous encounter that led to our collaboration on the redesign of her 240-page Wedding Bible and her Wedding Bible Planner. Meeting Sarah and landing the job gave me the confidence to dedicate myself full time to my business. Two weeks after returning home from the conference I resigned from my job and began the crazy, rewarding, challenging, wonderful journey of being an entrepreneur.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

When thinking of a name for my business I was sitting on the couch in our apartment’s living room and looking around the space. Sitting on a credenza that was a vignette I had styled that was composed of a tall cylindrical vase filled with pheasant feathers and a piece of coral. (I’ve long had a thing for what I like to call “animal ephemera”). I put the two words together and really liked how they sounded. After doing a quick internet search I confirmed that the URL was available (not an easy feat to find one that’s not been taken!) and knew I had a winner. For a while there, I always associated the word coral with the petrified piece that was the original inspiration. It wasn’t until I stared at the clothes hanging in my closet that I realized I owned multiple coral-colored things and a light bulb went on. Of course coral was also a color! It’s funny how something can be so obvious and yet so elusive.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

My design process begins with learning as much as I can about the couple I’m working with. I want to know what they love to eat, how they spend their vacations, where they shop and what makes their house a home. Learning what they love in their day-to-day life – and what they don’t! – helps tremendously in understanding the vision for their wedding day.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

My design process is also heavily inspired by vintage finds and studying beautifully curated interiors. In my questionnaire I ask my clients what the most treasured piece of furniture or art is in their home. This speaks volumes to me! I love the history behind objects and the visual storytelling that develops as these treasured pieces find their way into homes. The layering of unexpected items, their textures and patinas and patterns. It parallels the design of my stationery. I always seek to have each item in a suite coordinate with the whole but never “match.”  I like to vary the sizes of the cards and the colors of the envelopes and I strive to create an element of discovery. This element might be a charming detail tucked into the envelope liner or the unexpected placement of the stamp on an RSVP envelope.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Working for yourself certainly has its rewards and challenges. One of the rewards is realizing my world got so much bigger. When I was working for a company, that was my world. I went to work, did my job and came home. I loved the people I worked with and they were essentially my “network.” For the most part we were all similar in age, doing similar things. When I started working for myself, I crossed paths with so many new people, with a multitude of talents, from wildly diverse backgrounds. It was – and is – wonderful to connect with people who are different from me. Each person brings a new perspective and can challenge you to see things in a new light. On the flip side, being a company of one can be lonely. I loved the people I worked with at my past job. There was definitely a social aspect to work where we all had lunch together and it was easy to bounce ideas around. I also had others to hold me accountable for tasks and projects. When you work for yourself, you have to make a concerted effort to network and you’re the one steering the ship.

Behind the Stationery: Coral Pheasant / Oh So Beautiful Paper

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about this gal behind the paper!

Photo Credits: Coral Pheasant

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards

What an honor to share with you all this next stationery duo’s journey. From Red Cap Cards, Carrie and Hal are here to share about the importance of pajamas, insight on working with illustrators and artists, and behind their new collaborative collection debuting at NYNOW in two short weeks! It’s amazing to see how they changed their career paths and adjusted their vision, individually and together. —Megan

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Hello! We are Carrie and Hal from Red Cap Cards. Our company is based out of Los Angeles, California. We are a stationery company that celebrates artists, creating a platform to share their work through beautifully designed paper products.

Our story began in 2005 when Hal and I decided we wanted to work together and create a lifestyle for ourselves that allowed us to be completely in charge of our own time. I think some people are just meant to work for themselves and that would be us. Hal and I both had different careers. He was running a coffee roasting business and I was a children’s theatre director. Although we were passionate about these careers, we decided to take a leap of faith and start a creative business that was in line with the creative vision we had for our life. At the time, I was illustrating cards as a hobby and people loved them. We recognized the potential in the concept of bringing amazing art and illustration to the doorstep (quite literally) of the masses. So, in our tiny West Hollywood bungalow, Red Cap Cards was born.
Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Over time our company has evolved. In the beginning, I was the only illustrator and now we have over twenty different artists in our line—which is constantly evolving. We realized early on that we had loyal fan base and felt that this was ultimately the most valuable aspect of our business. So in 2007, we began collaborating with artists from all around the world. We started with a few artists that were friends of ours, and then we added more over time.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful PaperPhoto (courtesy) of Kate Pugsley

All of the artists that we have worked with have ended up becoming friends and members of a tight-knit family that we cherish. Creating amazing products is a wonderful part of our business but being champions for the artists we work with is our favorite part of our job. They are some of the most talented artists out there, and we consider ourselves lucky to introduce their work to a new collective.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Hal and I have held true to our vision. We work from home and can pretty much do our job from anywhere, thanks to the magic of technology. We always start the day with coffee. This is an essential in our house! I’m typically in pajamas all day; this is the sad but awesome truth. Hal and I sit at one long desk in our office that we have had for 10 years. We also have an amazing team of writers and designers who all work from their own spaces, and this is by design. One thing Hal and I have never wanted to do was manage people. We never liked feeling micro-managed, and we believe that our business model is one that empowers people and leads to a richer quality of work. I love knowing almost everyone on our team is happy working from the studios that inspire them. The remote office is the only way to go for us! Pajamas for everyone!

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

I retired from illustrating for Red Cap Cards in 2012 to take on the role as our creative director and collection curator. I spend most of my day working with our creative team, which consists of our artists, our amazing designer, Michelle, and Andie who writes our blog and helps with all things PR-related. Hal typically spends his day working with our logistics team which consists of Betsy, our wholesale manager and all around super star, Denise, who manages our warehouse in Minnesota, and Rich, who runs all of our print jobs here in Los Angeles.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful PaperPhoto by Carolyn Gavin

When creating a collection for Red Cap I always begin with the illustrator. I think about the unique perspective that the individual artist will bring to our line. Each artist we work with has their own approach to their work, which means that each process is a little bit different. Some artists love direction and others, not so much. We always suggest that greeting card occasions help to inspire the narrative in our cards, but we try not to let those occasions limit our artists or box them in. We want our artists to create work that they love, which is communicated through a “free” artistic process. That’s really important to us. Sometimes we have a general theme to help inspire a collection, and others times it’s random and very organic.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful PaperPhoto by Carolyn Gavin

I typically start the process by looking at their current body of work to help give them a general direction of what I feel would work on a card. Then we start a conversation about the kind of collection they’d like to create. The challenge in working with many different artists is creating a cohesive collection. Our goal is to curate a line that harmonizes together, but one that allows each card to stand independently on its own.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

We use several different types of printing processes including offset and gold foil-stamping, and have a special collection of spot color Pantone® cards. All of our products are printed and manufactured right here in Los Angeles and are quality checked by our standards. Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

We show up at 9am for every press run and are there as our printers deliver the cards into our hands hot off the presses. We adore our pressmen, some of whom have been in the printing business for over thirty years!

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

We adjust colors until they are as close to perfect as we can get, which can be a difficult process. Certain colors are hard to print, and we want to get them just right! After our cards are printed, we send them to our awesome warehouse in Minnesota, which is another business run by a husband-and-wife team. We love them dearly! They do an amazing job.
Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Recently, seven of our artists came together to create our first line of coordinating wrapping paper, notebook and greeting card suites. I wanted this collection to be a stunning showcase of how well our artists work together while remaining completely true to their individual vision. In order to do this, I had our artists create color stories that they shared with one another. The idea was to allow the different color stories inspire each other’s work.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

This was a really fun way to for our artists to play with one another and create a collection that harmonized in color. I’m so happy with the end result. We really do work with some of the most talented artists in the world, and wouldn’t trade it for anything. We hope that our labor of love comes through to the customers who buy our cards. This collection will be debuting at NYNOW on August 20th at the Crow & Canary booth!

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Hal and I are beyond grateful to be living such a wonderful life surrounded by so many talented people. If you would have asked me when I was a kid if I would grow up to run a stationery company, I would have laughed. I love how life can surprise you. I’m excited about the unknown future of Red Cap and I feel so much gratitude for folks like Oh So Beautiful Paper who have supported us from day one. That means the world to us.

Behind the Stationery: Red Cap Cards / Oh So Beautiful Paper

All photos taken by or for Red Cap Cards except where noted.

Interested in being featured in this column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details!