California is full of wonderful stationery designers, and Richele of Richie Designs is no exception. Here to share about custom wedding invitations and her story of moving into greeting cards after 20 years in advertising and design – here’s Richele! —Megan
Hi, I’m Richele Silva, owner of Richie Designs. Richie Designs is a design studio located in Long Beach, California. We’re the little city jammed between the Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County. I have a small office here in Long Beach where I meet with clients, pack orders, and get to leave my house once in a while. This space is new for me this year; previously, I had been running my business from home. It seems ideal that you could work from home, but I really missed “going to the office” and having a routine around that. I split my time now between the office and my press, which is still in le garage.
Photo by Eric Hameister
I’ve worked in design and advertising for nearly 20 years, mostly in the power sports / automotive sector. I began at the bottom in a small design firm and worked my way up and essentially learned on the job. Since we were small, I had the amazing opportunity to sit in all of the jobs of the studio — from going to a meeting in place of the creative director to styling a photo shoot. It was a great situation for me, and I feel like it has given me the perfect education to run my business. Two years ago, I left that work to pursue my line. I had just turned 45, and I really didn’t want to get to 70 wondering “What if?” My husband and I made a plan so that I could go out on my own.
I’ve done some version of greeting card design for 20+ years on the side, the last 10 being more serious as Richie Designs and letterpress printing. I happened onto printing when I began taking some classes for fun on the weekends. I purchased my own press when my instructor said, “you’re here again?” after I had taken so many consecutive classes for press time.
My business has really evolved over the past 10 years, from custom weddings to a fuller greeting card line and then this year, with the addition of gift items, such as mugs, pencils, and notepads. My day-to-day is focused on my greeting line, but I have a great love for custom wedding and stationery clients.
I work with wedding clients the same way that I worked with my Fortune 100 clients: consulting, conceptualizing, collaborating, and executing. I want them to be a part of each step. I find it’s rewarding for them as well as for myself. Sadly, I only take on a few wedding projects a year now because of time constraints from the other parts of my business, but it’s something that I really enjoy.
My approach to greeting design is a little selfish, in that I design the greetings that I want to give. I love type, quirky observations from daily life, and conversations with my friends, so I work to blend those things together. I also have the mindset that I want as many of my cards as possible to have dual purposes. As an example, you could use my Snuggle Card for a sweetheart, friend, or child. I’m someone who buys three or four cards to keep in a drawer so that I’m covered, and I want buyers of my line to be able to do the same.
My design process begins with sticky notes and doodles, which are usually all over my computer or inspiration boards. I jot quick things down as they come up, and then when I sit down to design I look back at those stickies and work on icons or type treatments to go with them. I might try out two or three designs per concept and then edit down from there. Once I have a collection of cards or a style that I know I’m on, I’ll order my plates and begin printing. Generally, I have colors somewhat worked out ahead of printing, but on occasion I’ll choose colors on the fly.
I used to be very regimented about designing to the very nth degree before I got on press, but I’ve learned over the years that being a little bit loose helps my design process and also being open to the creative accidents that lead you to something new and exciting. It’s something that I want to take advantage of since I print my own work; most designers don’t get that opportunity. Art accidents are unexpected gifts — they don’t happen often, but when they do they’re magic.
I have a small team: myself, Lis, who is my studio manager, my rep Sasha, and my husband Chris. On a typical day, Lis will print while I design, or she might be packing orders while I work on business stuff. As a business owner, I would say that the worst part of being a creative person and owning a business is that a good 80% of my day ends up being business-related vs. creating art now. I’m an artist first and an accidental businesswoman second, but in reality I have to switch that around to make this all work. With both Lis and Sasha, I feel really grateful that I have really talented and hard-working women next to me whom I also consider dear friends and great associates. My husband’s role is official cheerleader. I tried to teach him to print, but let’s just say keeping that part of our lives separate works out better for everyone involved!
Right now, it’s midsummer, and we’re working on new designs, taking care of orders and some custom projects that we’re still discussing. My husband and I are looking forward to our first full week of vacation EVER. We’ve been together for 12 years now, but he went back to school for medicine during that time and then just when he was settled, I started my business. We’re long overdue and really looking forward to it. Thanks for stopping by the studio!
All photos by Richie Designs except where noted.
Interested in being featured in Behind the Stationery? Email megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com.