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
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.
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.
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.
Instagram 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.
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.
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.
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!
All photos by Modern Lore, except where noted.
Interested in being featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Please reach out to Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org