The talented Ellie of well-respected stationery brand, Hello Tenfold, is here sharing how she turned the key of an unfortunate situation and opened the door into a full-time custom wedding invitation business. Full of behind the scenes client inspiration boards, Ellie shares how having a toddler has affected her workday and where she goes to get inspired (clue: shopping is involved!). –Megan
I’m Ellie Snow, and I’m thrilled to be on this beautiful blog today! I started my stationery company Hello Tenfold in 2009, around the time that I got married and designed my first set of wedding invitations – my own! – alongside my then-boyfriend. We got some encouraging feedback on our work and my business was born. Although it didn’t feel lucky at the time, soon after our wedding and the launch of Hello Tenfold, my husband and I were laid off from our graphic design jobs and self employment became a reality. It had always been a goal of mine to be self employed, and life went ahead and gave me the shove I needed! Since then, I’ve been lucky to have my work featured in magazines like Martha Stewart Weddings, Southern Living, Brides Magazine, and HOW Magazine, among others. More importantly, I get to spend my days doing something I absolutely adore.
After working from home for a few years, I began to rent a studio space, which was an enormous help for productivity (not to mention mental health and, um, cleanliness). Today my studio is located in a part of Durham, North Carolina dubbed the “DIY District.” The studio is next door to a boutique selling handmade NC goods, and a stone’s throw from a favorite coffee shop, a brewery, a music venue, a ballpark, and too much good food to mention. As a bonus, the studio’s store front windows make for excellent sunset watching. My coworkers are my husband, who started his own design business last Fall, Harbor, our studio-mate, photographer Jessie Gladdek, and the various local business owners who make my job possible — printers, shippers, baristas.
Over the years Hello Tenfold’s collection of invitations has grown to be over 25 different suites, and most of the jobs I take involve customizing those suites to fit the weddings of the couples I work with. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing a color scheme, and other times we use the invitation design as a basic starting place and create something totally different by changing the layout, fonts, envelope liner pattern, printing method, and so on. Occasionally a client’s request for a design will get my wheels spinning and turns into a new design for the shop — Florentine, for example, started as a custom invitation for a couple in Chapel Hill, and last week a bride asked me for a vegetable-and-animal themed suite (hmm… stay tuned!).
One of the things I love about designing wedding invitations in particular is the opportunity to have so many different paper items, each with a unique look but cohesiveness throughout the suite. I love mixing patterns, and many of my designs start with inspiration from some bygone era. In the summer, I love spending Saturday mornings at antique stores, and my phone is full of photos of details in wood furniture or interesting patterns found in rugs, fabric swatches, or book covers.
A typical week at Hello Tenfold starts mid-morning. I was never an early riser, but my one-and-a-half year old is working on it. We spend the morning getting the three of us fed, bathed, dressed, and packing various bags that we each need for the day ahead. My daughter goes to her nanny’s house and my husband and I head to our studio. At work, my day starts with emails. I send out quotes for potential new clients, answer questions, and then start in on design work. This means making edits to proofs, sending clients new designs and variations, and sometimes it means an impromptu photo shoot. Like, showing a bride the subtle difference between Bright White and Soft White paper and how each of those look in gold foil, alongside 8 different neutral paper options for the corresponding envelope liner.
Since most of my clients are not local, photos and phone calls can be key! I save projects like shop updates, social media, packaging and shipping orders, assembling envelope liners and invitation bands, checking on printer’s proofs, and assembling sample packs for the afternoons. If needed, I call in back-up… I’ve got a few trusty ladies with tape gun talent. Just before 5pm there’s a mad dash to pick up our daughter from daycare on time. We play outside or run errands, cook dinner, and do the bedtime routine. A few nights a week, my husband and I work after our daughter is in bed, unless the couch calls our names and we snuggle in with some TV or good books.
Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at [email protected]