Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore

Inspired by the increased popularity of Instagram and Facebook, Lauren and Joel (the founders of Old Tom Foolery) created another line of primarily photo-based stationery called Modern Lore. I’m thrilled to feature the other brand under their umbrella as Lauren shares how they made the jump and transitioned to creating another brand and aesthetic. –Megan

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Modern Lore was started in 2013 out of a love for contemporary photography and paper goods. My husband, Joel, and I had been creating cards and gifts since 2007 through our other brand, Old Tom Foolery, but over the years, there were many times we had an idea for a project that didn’t fit the OTF brand qualities of being humorous, type driven, and gender neutral.
Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

At the same time, we saw people communicating with photos more than ever before. As people began to go everywhere with a camera built into their phones, we all began sharing moments with our images, and telling stories through social media like Instagram and Facebook. But for some reason, this trend of so many people creating beautiful, contemporary-style images hadn’t yet made its way to the stationery industry. We knew so many talented people taking great photos of both their journeys and everyday lives and decided to jump in and fill that void in the increasingly illustration-driven stationery marketplace.
Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

While some of our first photographers already were well-known for sharing their images and documenting their lives, like Victoria Smith of sfgirlbybay, many of our initial partners were friends of ours or people we had met in our pre-stationery careers in advertising.

But as we’ve grown, we’ve been able to partner with a fantastic group of photographers from all over the country, and together they take us on so many adventures through their photos. We work with illustrators like Lisa Congdon, bloggers like Nole and Anne Sage, and jet setting go-getters like Patrick Janelle.

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful PaperInstagram photo by Patrick Janelle

It’s been really fun to watch the brand evolve over the past two years. Our first products only featured photos, and we’ve gradually incorporated text—some sweet, some cheeky—and have now added stylized illustration and color-blocked designs into the mix.

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

The response to Modern Lore has been exciting to see, especially since we were a little nervous to go down a new path for boutique stationery. But as it turns out, we’re not the only ones who enjoy a nice photo and we’re proud to be stocked in so many great small shops and some larger retailers we really respect like Anthropologie and Paper Source.

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Modern Lore shares the same office and team as Old Tom Foolery, and we are based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Our office is located just behind our retail shop, Greater Goods, which has proven to be a fantastic testing ground and sounding board for new products.

Joel and I both work on both Old Tom Foolery and Modern Lore, though I’m generally the point person for communicating with our photographers and collecting images to choose from for our next release.

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

As our business has grown and we’ve launched new brands like Modern Lore and Greater Goods, we definitely have more projects to juggle and tasks to complete. But we are able to stay on top of things with the help of our incredible team. Free task management tools like Asana are a lifesaver for us, and our new, more complex version of QuickBooks is helping us keep track of inventory in ways we never could before.

Ten years ago, I never would have thought that Joel and I would both be working full-time on a family of brands we built from scratch. It’s been an adventure, and full of lessons we’ve learned along the way. We’re still figuring things out as we go, but we love what we’re doing and sincerely appreciate the support from all of our retailers, customers, and cheerleaders. We wouldn’t be here without you!

Behind the Stationery: Modern Lore / Oh So Beautiful Paper

All photos by Modern Lore, except where noted.

Interested in being featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Please reach out to Megan at

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress

I had the pleasure of meeting Cara of Underwood Letterpress in person at The National Stationery Show this year. Though it was her first show, she is no printmaking or business rookie – she is (very quickly) taking over the California coast! Here’s the scoop on her business prowess, days at work, and design process. –Megan

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

I learned to letterpress print about 10 years ago in a printmaking class during college, but then I took a detour from the world of design for a bit, got my masters in public policy and built a career in philanthropy working with some of the most talented and generous people that I know. I gained skills in management, planning and collaboration that have influenced the way I run my business today. I thrived in my career, but couldn’t be happier about the switch. I love working with my hands again, designing beautiful things and being my own boss. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m excited to have embraced this non-linear career path and am excited about where it may take me!

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

I officially launched Underwood Letterpress in 2012. When we launched, our custom work took off really quickly and we were fortunate to get some great exposure through various prominent design blogs including Apartment Therapy, One King’s Lane and Design Love Fest. We spent two years building our custom work and with a leap of faith we decided to launch our own greeting card line this year at the National Stationery Show. We were a finalist for Best New Product and had a really great response to our card’s simple, modern designs and playful color palette.

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper underwood-38

Underwood Letterpress is located in the arts district in downtown Los Angeles in a shared workspace called The Unique Space. The building is a collective of designers, entrepreneurs, writers and bloggers, and also has a co-working space that brings different creative people to the building every day. While we are all hard at work running our own small business, we often find time to collaborate on projects or just bounce ideas off of one another. It’s a creative utopia!

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Our studio consists of our 12×18 Chandler and Price printing press from 1915 (yes, there’s a 100 year birthday in the house!!), our guillotine paper cutter, workspace, and as much shelving as we could fit to house our paper, inks, and other wares. We are lucky to have access to storage in the building’s basement which has allowed us to house a ton of inventory and grow our product line without crowding us out of the studio.
Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Our incredibly talented studio associate Mallory is running the show in L.A., while I work on expanding our business in the Bay Area. With a “minor” turn of events, my husband was recruited to northern California for a new job early this year, so I figured I would take on the challenge of bringing the business to another part of California that I love. I have set up a home studio and am fortunate to be printing at the San Francisco Center for the Book until I set up a permanent studio there. I travel to L.A. every other month for various projects and to meet with clients.Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Running a business in two locations means there is no “typical” day in the office. Each day is a unique combination of client consultations, emails, and designing. I am on the press about twice per week and spend the rest of the time building the business. I’ve found that I actually love working on the business side of things — finances, marketing, planning — all of it. This is an area I want to grow in and can’t wait to attend Business Boot Camp organized by the paper industry’s amazing professional network TSBC.

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

Our greeting card line incorporates bold color, pattern, geometry and juxtaposition. I take a lot of cues from fashion, home and lifestyle trends and love Scandinavian design. When designing a new card, I focus on color and design first. The sentiment or occasion comes next and usually organically pops right out at me.
Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

All of the cards are hand drawn which means that I start the process with a trusty Sharpie pen. I like to lay out a large piece of paper on my workspace and cover it with doodles, to do lists and reminders. That way, I have access to a canvas all day long and can sketch my ideas as they come to me. From there, I convert the images to digital artwork, refine the designs in Illustrator and then determine the color palette.

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful PaperUnderwoodLetterpressStudioTour058-9UnderwoodLetterpressStudioTour069-11UnderwoodLetterpressStudioTour066-10

We specialize in letterpress printing, but offer foil printing, edge painting and embossing. We dip dye in house using a special technique that allows us to get really rich and textured color. We also work with handmade papers to create custom envelope liners and other special finishes. I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they like to frame our cards and I love that! We work hard to make sure everything we touch turns in to a piece of art which I think makes our card line unique.

Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

We also have a love affair with vintage postage and offer curated postage sets through our Etsy shop. We believe that the outside of our mail should be just as pretty as the inside. The U.S. Postal Service has been issuing beautiful stamps for the last 150+ years, so why not send them out in to the world so they can be enjoyed! We just started selling our curated postage through card shops all over the country this year, so definitely be on the lookout!Behind the Stationery: Underwood Letterpress / Oh So Beautiful Paper

All photos by Jen Emerling.

Interested in being featured on the Behind the Stationery column? Please contact Megan at

Behind the Stationery: MaeMae & Co.

There is something about Meg(an)s in stationery – there are so many of us! This is Megan of Mae Mae is she’s often known for her stunning mood boards that grace her Instagram. She’s got a killer aesthetic and has learned how to maximize and change the way she works with brides on their custom invitations. With so many options for brides (and their many requests!), Megan is here to share the system she set up for working in the custom world. Take it away, Megan! –The Other Megan

Photo by Bethany Platter

I started MaeMae when I was a senior in college. I was studying art and LOVED all things paper and print. I thought I would pursue a career in book design/publishing after school. After graduating I couldn’t get a job (2008 – woohoo!!) and so I pushed into this tiny business I had as a side project and hustled to make it work. I call the first two years of MaeMae my “unpaid internship”. I have always worked at MaeMae “full-time” (sometimes much less, sometimes much more) but couldn’t have survived or made it work without the support of my husband, Jason, who has encouraged me, cared for me, and sacrificed a lot as I pursued this dream.

MaeMae-68-2Photo by Canary Grey

As most creative businesses do, MaeMae has evolved overtime. When I started the business I only did custom wedding stationery. Three years into MaeMae I created a collection of characters that were ready-to-order and retailers across the country began to carry an album I created that was filled with these designs. I dug into this route because I wanted to be able to scale my business, take on more orders, and work with more people without having to start from scratch every project.

IMGL5847Photo by Bethany Platter


Photo by MaeMae & Co.

My collection of characters have been alive (and growing!) now for four years, but rarely do people order the designs as they were created. I’ve realized that the nature of my style/designs and our array of print methods and paper options invites (nay, tempts!) people to customize their suite further by meshing the different characters together, requesting custom patterns, illustrations, etc. We offer almost all print methods since we outsource our production (flat, engraving, letterpress, embossing, foil, etc!) and so just requesting a change in print method oftentimes requires digging in and redesigning. Instead of pushing back on the natural inclination to really want something totally unique from us, we run with it.

Photo by MaeMae & Co.

We are currently back where we started – offering all custom invitations but inviting people to start with an existing character if they so choose, which reduces the customization fee. I LOVE IT. It was a wonderful and necessary exploration, but I’m happy to call my work “custom” once again and I adore the imaginative and open-minded clients and wedding planners we have been working with now.


Photo by Bethany Platter

MaeMae is currently located in Minneapolis, MN – one of the world’s best cities. I started MaeMae in the Los Angeles area and moved here three years ago. I love the collaborative spirit, buzzing creative community, and craving to be outside during the warm months here. I recently moved into a really amazing space downtown called Restore Collaboartive. It is a co-working space filled with lots of other creatives who work for themselves by themselves or with a team. The energy in here is INCREDIBLE. My favorite thing about joining this space (vs. running my own studio space) is being inspired by the hustle happening all around me and the white noise of people brainstorming, talking to clients, and making cool things.


Photo by Bethany Platter

I would love to have a schedule!! I think…maybe I don’t and that’s why I don’t. :) My day consists of responding to emails with clients, production partners, and collaborative projects; creating concepts and art direction; designing; meeting with new people; helping new designers; working with my designer/stationery consulting clients; styling photos; and dreaming up new ideas. Never do all of the things happen in one day. My designer Anna handles the bulk of the wedding orders and new inquiries daily, and I handle my creative consultation clients and big picture direction on our wedding designs.


Photo by Bethany Platter

Any success of MaeMae ALWAYS comes from moments where I am most myself and make things that reflect how I feel, what I’m into, etc. I feel like side projects, my Instagram feed, etc, create the most buzz around my company because those are the truest expressions of who I am and what I want to make. I’m inspired by stories, music, editorial shots, interior designs, and dance. Check out the MaeMae Movie for more about my artist process and sourcing and using inspiration.


Photo by MaeMae & Co.

Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery column? Please email Megan at

New Stationery from Happy Cactus Designs

Hi there! I’m Brannon from Happy Cactus Designs, and I’m so thrilled to be guest blogging on Oh So Beautiful Paper this week. I recently relocated my company from Austin, Texas, to Durango, Colorado, and managed to launch a new collection of paper goods around the same time that I’m eager to share with you. Read through this post for a special discount code in my online shop exclusive to OSBP readers!

My latest collection was heavily influenced by traveling I did over the past year: drives through the Texas Hill Country, hikes along the Hawaiian coastline, and treks through blooming alpine meadows in the summertime.


While a lot of my work is based on my own hand-drawings, I branched out with this new collection and experimented with gouache paint. It was fun to mix things up and see my designs come to life in a different way. Here’s a peek behind the scenes as I painted some new designs and the end result.

Painting Process Painting Process 2




To celebrate the summer collection, I’m sharing a special discount code just with OSBP readers: get 25% off your order in my online shop when you use the code OSBP25 at checkout (valid through June 15).

Quick Pick: 9th Letter Press

It’s here! The 2015 National Stationery Show is underway – and I can’t wait to share some booth photos with you! But first I wanted to share some of the new Spring releases from 9th Letter Press – who sadly isn’t at the show this year. Instead 9th Letter Press sent an amazing box to retailers across the country with new cards (including copper foil!) as well as gift tags, wrapping sheets and a new calendar!







More over on 9th Letter Press!

Photo Credits: 9th Letter Press