The Beginning of Oh So Beautiful Paper

As some of you may have seen on Instagram, I celebrated my fourth anniversary of self-employment yesterday. When I first started Oh So Beautiful Paper, I couldn’t really share anything about my profession at the time – and nearly six years into blogging I still haven’t written this story down. So today I finally decided to get my act together and share the story of how Oh So Beautiful Paper came to be!

Aheirloom Gold Glitter Cake Topper The Beginning of Oh So Beautiful Paper

Cake topper by AHeirloom

Most people assume that I have a design background that led me to start blogging about paper. And while I definitely grew up surrounded by art and design, my professional background is actually in the field of international diplomacy! When I first started blogging in 2008, I was working as a civil servant (aka U.S.-based diplomat) at the U.S. Department of State, in the Bureau of African Affairs. Not exactly a direct correlation to paper and design.

But I should back up a bit. I was raised by two artistic parents: my dad worked as an advertising copywriter for most of his career, but now works as a semi-retired freelance photographer. My mom also worked in advertising (her job involved media buying) before switching to a different career in the late 1980s, but she’s also a talented painter and interior designer. I grew up in a very artistic environment, surrounded by art supplies and attending summer art camps. In high school, I took my first photography class and decided that I wanted to become a magazine photographer. But after a semester in college I quickly decided that I didn’t enjoy art school (Emily’s post from a couple of weeks ago will give you a pretty good idea of why it didn’t work out). So I took a few random elective classes… and switched majors to International Relations. It seems like such a random choice, but I was really, really good at my chosen field. It just felt like the right fit.

OSBP Travel Map 3 The Beginning of Oh So Beautiful Paper

My time at the State Department began with an internship during my last undergraduate semester in the spring of 2003, and my office hired me permanently at the end of my internship. I was all of 22, but working in a position normally reserved for mid-level employees in their 30s: it was an overwhelming introduction to the world of international diplomacy! For the next few years, I worked in the Office of East African Affairs with responsibility for Somalia and Djibouti (both located in the Horn of Africa).

It’s hard to explain what my job actually entailed, but my work involved everything from writing briefing memos for senior officials to preparing internal budget proposals and documents, and from collecting study materials for U.S. ambassadorial nominees to writing U.N. Security Council resolutions. Some of the tasks were mundane, and some of them – like traveling overseas – were really amazing. I was lucky enough to visit several European capitals and almost every country in East Africa – Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Somaliland, and Djibouti – and I even lived in Nairobi, Kenya for about a month on a special assignment. In 2009, I transferred to the Office of West African Affairs, working primarily on Liberia and Ghana.

I learned a lot during those years. I learned how to prioritize urgent tasks and objectives. I learned how to distill a complex set of issues into a two-page memo. I learned a lot of other things that are harder to put into words. At the State Department, most people rotate to a new position every 2-3 years, so I worked with and for a lot of different people over the course of my seven years there. I learned what it means to be a good boss, a good manager – and sadly what it means to be a bad boss and mismanage an entire office. I saw people around me sacrifice their personal lives for their careers, and I learned that I didn’t want that for myself. I learned what it meant to burn out. I learned that a fulfilling career – and a fulfilling life – can mean a lot of different things to different people.

Alli Coate Quiet Time Susan Taylor Quote Print The Beginning of Oh So Beautiful Paper

Print by Alli Coate

Everything changed when Andrew and I got married in 2008. I discovered wedding and lifestyle blogs (yay!), and I fell in love with the world of wedding invitations during our 9-month engagement. After our wedding, Andrew encouraged me to start blogging as a creative outlet, and Oh So Beautiful Paper was born a few weeks later! My original goal was simply to showcase amazing wedding invitation design and connect couples with the designer that suits their personal style. I never intended for blogging to replace my career at the State Department, but the blog slowly grew and evolved into something more than a hobby.

Coincidentally, Oh So Beautiful Paper was growing at the same time that I was becoming increasingly disenchanted with my office job. I attended the very first Alt Summit in 2010, and one of my most vivid memories from the entire conference was listening to Maxwell from Apartment Therapy during the keynote session. Maxwell talked about his own decision to take Apartment Therapy full time: how it felt like jumping off a cliff, but also that he had to put in full time effort to see full time rewards. In April 2010, after a year under one particularly awful boss (which in turn was after two years under an equally terrible boss in another office), I made the scariest decision of my life: I gave notice at a stable, salaried job to pursue Oh So Beautiful Paper full time. I gave myself six months to make things work – and here I am four years later!

Artifact Uprising Wild Abandon The Beginning of Oh So Beautiful Paper

Quote by Our Wild Abandon via Artifact Uprising

I’m proud of a lot of the things that I accomplished during my years at the State Department, and I have a lot of regrets about things that I didn’t accomplish or that didn’t go the way I wished they had. I’ve been away long enough that I can forget most of the bad experiences and just hold on to the fond experiences and memories, and I’m so happy to have those stories to tell Sophie someday. But nothing compares to the satisfaction of running my own business, even if it can be super scary and ridiculously exhausting most of the time, and I still don’t know that I’ve reached a level that I would define as successful. I’ve made so many wonderful friends through this amazing community, and I’d never trade that for a million years.

Okay, enough sap! I’ll stop there, and thank you for reading this ridiculously long post!

Papillon Press

We are the illustrated press

Papillon Press is a letterpress studio located in Westport, Ontario that specializes in illustrated stationery with a vintage twist. Whether you order your wedding invitations from us or buy one our greeting cards, you know that all cards have been firstly illustrated by hand (by us, no stock imagery!), then printed by us on our 60-year-old letterpress. Everything is done in-house with a commitment to artistry and craftsmanship.  Papillon Press is run by husband and wife duo Chantal and Joel, who are professional illustrators and printers.

We feature a collection of affordable letterpress wedding invitations with a vintage twist for the modern bride. We love intricate illustrations and those feature prominently on our invitations, and on all our products . You can decide to work up close and personal with us on a custom wedding suite or purchase one of our templates. We offer both letterpress and flat printing for wedding invitations and work with clients from all over the world.

We also take on letterpress printing projects, so if you have files you want printed you can send them to us and we will turn them into a letterpress work of art!

Our work has been featured in Country Living, Weddingbells, WedLuxe, Oh So Beautiful Paper, Stationery Trends, The National Post, etc.




Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! And what a week! Sophie has been experiencing some separation anxiety at night, making bedtime a wee bit difficult in our house these days. Sigh. This too shall pass, I hope. Yesterday I took a quick up-and-down trip to New York City for a meeting – I love traveling by train and I’m so glad we live close enough to make these kinds of trips feasible! This weekend we’re hoping to take Sophie to the National Zoo to say goodbye to the Invertebrate Exhibit. We’re so sad that it’s closing! But in the meantime…

Union Station DC OSBP Instagram Happy Weekend!

The beautiful Union Station // Photo by me via Instagram

…a few links for your weekend:

This week on Oh So Beautiful Paper:

Check back soon for this week’s cocktail! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week! xoxo

Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship Home

Two years ago (!), Nole and I spent a fantastic week in St. Lucia, a tiny and gorgeous Caribbean country. I, of course, tried the local drinks, and they were as you might expect: full of rum and pineapple and coconut. Tropical. But I also noticed something interesting in between cups of rum punch –advertisements all over the country for Campari, the bitter Italian amaro that’s key to cocktails like the Negroni. This made no sense to me. Why would the people of a Caribbean island – with all that rum and lime and pineapple, rich spices and coconut – drink bitter, bitter Campari? So I asked a bartender and he told me that St. Lucians loved Campari, on the rocks or with soda water, just like in Italy. Go figure. So I wanted to give something an experiment, to balance the touristy fantasy of the ideal Caribbean drink with the reality of what St. Lucians actually drink. And I think I came up with something pretty interesting and pretty good: The Last Ship Home. – Andrew

Signature Cocktail Recipe The Last Ship Home OSBP 1 Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship Home

Signature Cocktail Recipe Card The Last Ship Home Shauna Lynn Illustration OSBP Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship Home

Illustration by Shauna Lynn for Oh So Beautiful Paper

The Last Ship Home

1 1/2 oz Aged Rum
1/4 oz Cachaca
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz Pineapple-Mango Syrup
1 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Orgeat Syrup

Combine all of the ingredients and shake well with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with tropical fruit. Enjoy!

Signature Cocktail Recipe The Last Ship Home OSBP 12 Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship HomeSignature Cocktail Recipe The Last Ship Home OSBP 14 Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship Home

There’s a lot going on in this recipe, but it works: smooth and tangy, sweet and sour, sweet and bitter, with tropical spiciness but also amaro herbal notes. I won’t lie: if you don’t have all of these ingredients at home, you can still make a really interesting bitter Daiquiri with rum, lime, sugar, and Campari. But if you do have all these handy, give it a try: it’s enormously complicated but somehow all works together, balancing the richly sweet tropical flavors with a classic bitter Italian aperitif.

Signature Cocktail Recipe The Last Ship Home OSBP 19 Friday Happy Hour: The Last Ship Home

Weird. But good.

Don’t forget to let us know if you try any of our recipes. And if you do make one at home, you can use #osbphappyhour to share photos of these (or your own creations) on Instagram.

Photo Credits: Nole Garey for Oh So Beautiful Paper

Rustic Market-Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

I’m completely smitten with the idea of fabric wedding invitations, whether printed on vintage handkerchiefs or swatches of linen or muslin. But vintage-inspired miniature grain sacks? Such a great idea! Inspired by farmer’s markets, these fabric invitations from Erin at Lucky Luxe are paired with letterpress printed enclosure cards – all tucked perfectly into the invitation itself!

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe3 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

From ErinWe recently finished up my favorite invitation suite of all time — it’s called Market. From the rolling hills of California to the lavender fields of Provence, Market is the quintessential wedding invitation for an elegant rustic wedding in the countryside. Inspired by French grain sacks and fresh picked farmer’s market herbs, enclosure cards tuck inside our 100% cotton miniature grain sack invitations which are handprinted and available with or without vintage red stripes.

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe7 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding InvitationsMuslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe6 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe10 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe12 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe13 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Muslin Bag Vintage Grain Sack Wedding Invitations Lucky Luxe5 Rustic Market Inspired Fabric Wedding Invitations

Thanks Erin!

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

Photo Credits: Lucky Luxe