Hello Brick & Mortar: How a Retailer Preps For NSS

The 2014 National Stationery Show is a few days away. If you’re exhibiting at the show, your crates are on their way and so are you (hooray!). Last week, we talked about how to catch a retailer’s eye. This week I thought I’d give you a little peek into how I prep for NSS. So far it involves a lot of ‘getting excited’ and very little ‘buying of train tickets.’ – Emily of Clementine

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Illustration by Emily McDowell for Oh So Beautiful Paper

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Step 1: Delight in your mailers. The weeks leading up to NSS are similar to what I imagine it would feel like to be a girl in a Louisa May Alcott novel with her dance card filled up. Which is to say: very attended to and very good. (Thank you!)

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The mailers this year have been exceptional; color, creativity and the sweetest personal notes!  After the show, mail can be a little bit bleak. (In other words, not a terrible time to follow up with a little note to keep you in our hearts/minds.)

Step 2: Map it out. I mean this literally. I’m a very visual person and find it helpful to create an actual map of my route. This year I had help from my wonderful intern who put the mailers in order by booth number. We then talked through each vendor, creating categories of: current vendor, prospective vendors, vendors I definitely want to make an order with, and people I want to make sure to say hello to (nb: this has a lot to do with personal notes…). After that, I create a veritable yellow brick road of mailers. This gives me a visual road map that I can rely on when the lights of the show start to blur.

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Mapping it out on Instagram. Am I standing on a chair or floating? You decide.

This mapping helps me prep for how I will spend my 2-3 days at the show. I will plan to break my days down into two categories: First, I make orders with my existing lines that need re-stocking. Though I’m very excited to add new lines, my current vendors have my loyalty. Second, as I walk, I take notes on (and photos of) lines that I’ve had my eye on and new lines that catch my attention. I want to take in as much as possible and note why I’d be adding these lines – do they offer something new? A product or category I don’t currently sell? Or am I just plain smitten with them? This is often a big, big list. So I take this list back to the hotel. The biggest question I ask myself is: do I REALLY love it.  In the moment, in a booth, with a wonderful vendor it can be incredibly tempting to just make order after order. For this reason, I try to wait at least a day to mull over my options and make orders with new lines on my second or third day.

Step 3: Never Stop Looking. I’m constantly on the hunt for stationery. My walking list will continue to grow up until I step foot in the Javitz. I have vendors in the back of my mind who didn’t send mailers, mailers that didn’t catch my eye at first blush, and vendors who come out of nowhere at the last minute. To incorporate them into my larger walking list, I rely on:

  • Pinterest. I keep a Pinterest board for stationery throughout the year. I pin new lines as I fall for them and revisit the board a few times a year (most notably on the train on the way to the show.)
  • Instagram. Instagram is a daily hangout and in the weeks leading up to the show I frequently jump over to the #nss2014 and #stationeryshow hashtags* to see what you’re creating. I love discovering new lines and catching sneak peeks of your preparations. Also, I think it’s a great leveling-of-the-playing-fields for getting all stationery lines in front of retailers’ eyes. (*I know we discussed hashtags last time, and I’m with the camp who just feels that #nss has too many non-stationery related happenings.)
  • Blogs. I check in on Nole and Carina’s NSS sneak peeks and to scroll back through their prior year posts to see how lines have evolved. I also frequently find myself in new places from their blogs and then back on Pinterest pinning what I love. I love the Etsy blog for giving me background on vendors. And Emily McDowell had a great post this week for fellow vendors. I agree with everything she said. And, I would only add that even if your walls fall down, phenomenal cards on the floor are better then half-assed cards on a beautiful wall.
  • You! I rely on my current vendors to tip me off to new members of the stationery community. I also appreciate all of the pre-show emails that are coming in to remind me of you!

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A snapshot of my Stationery Board on Pinterest. Everchanging.

Step 4: Construct a plan for orders. This is the part where I have to quit daydreaming and start doing the hard work. I should take a moment to say that I don’t run a stationery store. Clementine is a lifestyle and home decor store. That said, I have happily let stationery grow like ivy into every nook of the shop. I have grown my stationery lines from 2 to 30+ over three years and though I plan to expand, I can’t expand infinitely. (This year I plan to add 3 lines, maybe 5. Ok 8 max.) So I make my walking list and walk the show with these this refrain: Will my customers love it? Is it in my budget? Does it offer something new to Clementine? And, do I really, really love it? 

Step 5. Walk it. I love almost every aspect of vendor interaction at the show: Visits with lines who I’ve carried since the beginning, hellos with vendors I adore from afar, and rounding the corner to be totally struck with a new line that rocks my world. I love that some booths are stunning theater-like sets and others are minimalist and let the cards speak for themselves. I’m not looking for one thing, I’m just looking to be delighted in roughly 2000 different ways. And I’m pretty confident that will happen.

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 A section of Clementine’s current stationery offerings. I’m so excited to see what it looks like a year from now!

See you at the show!

Photo Credits: Bottom image by Jessica Anderson Photography. All other images via my Instagram.

Mohawk Strathmore Journals and Letterpress Papers

I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Mohawk over the last couple of years, and in the process I’ve become more familiar with their paper collections. Mohawk’s Strathmore brand is one of the most well known and well respected fine paper brands, and at this year’s National Stationery Show Mohawk (Booth 2957) will celebrate the historic brand with the launch of Strathmore Notes – a new line of fine paper journals – and the introduction of Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Paper!

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Strathmore Notes journals are designed for beauty and longevity and made in Mohawk‘s family-owned paper mill in upstate New York, using paper recipes over 120 years old! The journal collection is inspired by by the flora of Scotland’s Strathmore Valley, specifically the thistle adopted by Strathmore company founder Horace Moses as symbols of quality for his papers.

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Strathmore Notes are available in three sizes and three paper styles – Strathmore Pure Cotton Paper, Strathmore Watermark Laid Paper, and Strathmore Premium Smooth Paper. Each journal features a textured charcoal gray cover, matching foil stamp, and colorful hand sewn spine. Each journal is packaged with a colorful wrap with a unique Strathmore thistle pattern and a selection of customizable bookplates!

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The Strathmore brand has been around since 1892, and this year Mohawk is introducing a brand new collection of Pure Cotton Letterpress papers designed to emulate the look and feel of handmade papers, with a luxurious surface that allows for a beautiful contrast between the sheet and the printed impression.

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Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Paper is now available in two vintage shades of white – Ultimate White and Soft White – and two rich colors – Smoke Gray and Chino –  and in two calipers: 18 pt and 20 pt. Matching 80 text envelopes are available with square or Euro flaps.

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If you’re headed to the National Stationery Show, stop by the Mohawk booth (2957!) for more information about both Strathmore Notes and Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress Paper!

This post is sponsored by Mohawk. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that help make Oh So Beautiful Paper possible!

NSS 2014 Sneak Peek: Egg Press

Ready for another sneak peek from the upcoming National Stationery Show? This one comes from another favorite veteran exhibitor: Egg Press! Egg Press (Booth 1758) recently added foil stamping to their repertoire – I can’t wait to see how they incorporate pretty metallics into their designs! Egg Press will also debut some fun new holiday and Halloween cards, quirky three color screen printed art prints, bold cards with hand drawn illustrations, and more of their signature allover floral pattern cards!

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Thanks Bria!

Photo Credits: Egg Press

Raffa’s Modern First Birthday Party Invitations

You really can’t go wrong with crisp, classic black + white – and these first birthday party invitations are no exception! Chloe from Hello There, Design created these invitations for her son’s first birthday (happy birthday Raffa!), featuring whimsical hand cut letter text and hand lettered envelope addresses. Love!

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From Chloe: I designed these invitations for my son Raffa’s first birthday party. The invitations are simple black and white with text to match some hand cut letters that are part of a felt banner I made for the occasion. I included a very appropriate enthusiastic photo of Raffa above the text.

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The back of the invitation features a pattern of asymmetrical diamond shapes, which matched the hand cut letters. I opted to have the envelopes hand lettered with white ink on black envelopes, then I made return address labels with the same hand cut lettering as the invitation. The invitations were digitally printed on Savoy cotton stock and the envelopes are Paper Source black.

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Thanks Chloe!

Design: Chloe Marty of Hello There, Design

Envelope Hand Lettering: June Bride Lettering

Photo Credits: Jonna Solheim

How to Add Your Personal Touch to DIY Wedding Invitations

Over the years, we’ve put countless wedding invitation suites together. Whether they were for this DIY column, for a client or even for our own weddings, we’re always blown away by how different a design can look once a couple puts their own personal spin on the details. Today we’ll show you just how different one of our standard letterpress designs (our Old West Invitation) can look once we add in all of the special details that bring the suite together. Hopefully this column inspires you to think outside the box about your own invitations! Be sure to check out the bottom of the post where we share our favorite DIY resources! – Bailey and Emma of Antiquaria

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Bespoke design services are certainly available and a very popular option right now. It stands to reason that couples want a suite that reflects their personal style and the special day that they are planning. While they’re a great option for some, many budgets just can’t accommodate the high prices that come along with the custom design process. It’s not the only option to get something that suits you and also your budget. DIY-ing components of your suite and putting everything together with friends and family can really help the bottom line.

Maybe you want a letterpress invitation but also a vintage postcard reply. That’s when using a rubber stamp on a portion of your wedding invitation suite can come in really handy. Want envelope liners but the high price tag of having them installed blows the budget? Find fun patterned wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper and do it yourself. It will definitely take some extra time and effort but in the end offers the same custom look. The options for customizing your suite are endless (really, they are) so we’ll show you three designs and outline what it took to achieve each look. We’ll also give you some of our go-to resources for the fun stuff so that you can find exactly what you might need!

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Our first suite is a fun play on traditional western imagery. We brought in tonal shades of green with the envelopes and a cactus patterned paper. We used the letterpress wedding invitation as well as the coordinating reply card (our Old West Invitation and Old West Reply Card) to keep it simple. For this suite we splurged and used calligraphy addressing because it’s really the best way to get opaque white ink and to add more of a unique touch. Twine always looks great with western design, so we used a peach bakers twine over a belly band to tie the pieces together.

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For the second design, we wanted to illustrate just how pretty and feminine western design can be. We took the same Old West Invitation but paired it with pretty vintage postcard that featured a peach colored cactus flower and rubber stamped our reply info on the back. Adding in this imagery really helped us tie in the blush envelope and the coordinating chocolate and pink western liner. Of course, tying it together with a pretty Grecian Pink ribbon doesn’t hurt either. This suite was addressed using a digital addressing service. Just because you might not be able to afford a calligrapher doesn’t mean that you must resort to those tacky clear labels. There are many options for guest addressing with style selections to choose from.  There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find something to coordinate with your suite.

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By far the most pricey and customized design of the group, this suite includes custom art and a box mailer. We still used the same Old West invitation design but brought in luxe details like the navajo patterned response card and vintage arrowheads – all enclosed in a little gift box. Thinking “out of the box” can be really fun if you have the time and budget to bring in special details like these (even if they’re actually in a box). Custom guest address labels were used on this design in lieu of calligraphy. We knew the box would need a lot of postage, especially if using vintage postage stamps, but hand lettering and calligraphy needs quite a bit of room to execute. The label is printed out with both your guest address as well as your return address and wraps onto the back of the envelope (or box). It’s especially appropriate for the box mailers since it seals one side of the box shut.

We hope that your mind is a-buzz with ideas of how to make your own wedding invitations custom and unique to you! There are many options out there and it pays off to spend a little time adding some DIY touches your your own invitations.


Designs used in the tutorial: Old West Letterpress Invitation, Old West Letterpress Reply Card, Old West Coral Patterned Paper

About Envelopes: Adding colored envelopes is always a great option. Often invitation companies will give you a credit if you elect not to use the envelope that they provide with the invitations. Our favorite envelope sources are Paper Source, Paper Presentation and Envelopes.com. Between the three, they offer a wide selection of colors and styles for your to choose from. There are many others out there too if you spend the time to search around.

About Addressing Options

Calligraphy: It’s not for every budget, but calligraphy is a great options for many couples. If you have time, you can even try to learn for yourself with our tutorials and supply kit. Otherwise, calligraphers are plentiful both online and locally. If you’d prefer to work with a local calligrapher, the best way to find a talented and reputable person is currently to go through your local calligraphy guild. Using a local calligrapher can make your life easier and can be less expensive since you can avoid shipping things back and forth. They also tend to accommodate rush jobs more easily. Some calligraphers may not have websites…don’t let this deter you, they can easily email samples to show you their skills!

Digital Addressing Services: Envelopes.com offers addressing on their huge selection of envelopes. It’s a great option for a professional look without hiring a professional calligraphy to hand letter each envelope. Etsy also has many, many sellers that offer this service as well. These vendors do not necessarily stock the envelopes so you’ll need to use the ones provided or find your own.

Guest Address Labels: Etsy is another great source for this service as well. You can also ask your designer or stationer if they offer addressing options to coordinate with the design that you choose. They might offer one or all of the options through their shop.

Our Favorite DIY Supply Resources

Pattterned papers for DIY envelope liners and bellybands: Antiquaria, Paper SourcePaper Mojo

Vintage Postage:  Our favorites source is Verde Studio Vintage Stamps, don’t hesitate to contact Virginia at Verde Studio: she is brilliant at currating a custom mix of vintage postage to suite your needs. Other resources for vintage postage include: Champion Stamp Co.Ebay – USA unused stamps 1901-nowThe Paper Nickel

Ribbon: We love the soft look of rayon taylor’s ribbon available at Antiquaria, for a more organic look check out the gorgeous italian cotton ribbons at Angela LiguoriM&J Trimming has a full assortment of ribbons and trimming to choose from.

Bakers Twine: Baker’s twine now comes in a variety of colors. Here are two great sources: Antiquaria &  The Twinery

Anti­quaria is a mem­ber of the Designer Rolodex – you can see more of their beau­ti­ful work right here or visit the real wedding invitations gallery for more wedding invitation ideas!

Photo Credits: Antiquaria for Oh So Beautiful Paper