Happy 2018! We’re kicking off the new year with the duo Baltic Club based in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Montreal, Canada! Melanie and Brice transitioned from advertising into the stationery world and, since they began in 2014, they’re now to be the only fully vertically integrated stationery design studio in Eastern Canada. Their colorful studio is split into 3 areas: a workshop, retail shop, and back studio. Here to share their behind the stationery story is Brice! — Megan Soh
From Brice: Melanie and I met in 2013 in Montreal, Canada, in an advertising agency where she was Art Director and me, the Production Manager. We instantly connected because we share the exact same universe deep in our souls, plus Melanie is the funniest and talented person I’ve ever met in my life. Even in the first few weeks, we already shared about creating something but at this time, it was a more around a puff cream specialty gourmet bakery. A couple of months later, I had to quit my job and left Canada for personal reasons and, in a total upsurge of YOLO, Melanie quit her job too in order to join me and travel across Europe.
When we came back in Montreal, we had no job and no money so we founded our own design agency named Glasgow Studio, in which we had a lot of fun. Baltic Club was only a side project at this time but we enjoyed the freedom it brought us compared to the branding deadlined projects of the agency. We gave ourselves 12 months to turn Baltic Club into our main activity and stop all the rest. We succeeded in a bit less than 12 months and learned so much along the way.
We’re based in Montreal — a beautiful laid back metropole of Eastern Canada and our workshop is located in the heart of a very trendy area named the “Mile-End”. Since the time when we worked from the living room table of our apartment, we’ve moved 5 times in 3 years until we found the beautiful space where we are today. A vast back-store allows us to stock paper and host our homemade photoshoot studio.
The front part is divided into 2 open spaces: the workshop itself and the shop where the public can visit and interact with us and purchase our freshest products 7 days a week. We chose to sell our products almost exclusively with complementary items like pens or paper clips. The selection is made in a way that we have a unique selection of items that you can’t see anywhere else in town. Of course, Melanie did all the setup and the decoration, making this place gorgeous and so pleasant to work in.
Our approach has always been to grow by ourselves so we began to buy our own equipment early on in our history. For instance, we recently had the opportunity to acquire a Risograph to explore new countries in terms of printing processes along with inkjet, numeric or offset printing we already use on a daily basis. “Charlene”, our hot foil stamping machine, “Billy” the corner cutter, or “Gordon”, our industrial blades are fantastic additions that allow us to create with even more fun, inspiration and flexibility. Oh, yes, we give names to our machines because we believe that they all have their own personality. Some of them even have eyes drawn on. Today, a lot of design companies, even stationery ones, come and see us in order to make their production. We are proud to be the the only stationery company in Eastern Canada capable of designing, printing, binding, packaging, selling our own products…at the same place!
Melanie and I are both as much into production methods as we are in design, hence we just can’t prevent ourselves from trying new printing or binding techniques as well as design orientations with the care of keeping an harmonious unicity.
We work a lot. We don’t feel like it’s really “working”, but we work from early in the morning to late at night. It’s more like living the life we always wanted to dream, enjoying each moment with excitement and dedication. In the morning, we concentrate more on the global picture and marketing moves before we reach the workshop for the opening to take care of our employees and support them in their tasks. We also pretend to be productive (ha!) but we need to be a bit more isolated for that. Phone calls, emails, basic design tasks, production follow ups are our 9 to 5 occupations. When everything turns calmer at the end of the day, we dive into administrative work and the most important design matters, sometimes until 10 or 11 without even noticing it. And, as a “mind purifier,” we fantasize about new projects we could invest our passion in, all along the way.
Nature documentaries are an infinite source of inspiration. We find them so interesting and always mind blowing! We also found out that when we add a touch of edginess and humour to the roughness and sincerity of what surrounds us, we usually obtain poetry, softness and strength at the same time. Our creative process often begins with a concept, emerged from this massive source of wonder that Melanie turns into something magical in just a couple of hours.
It is very rare that we come back on a design because we don’t like it and, for the vast majority of them, we use them on multiple supports. The most complicated things we face today is definitely the lack of focus due to multitasking and the cash flow management to support our self-generated growth. Having employees is a huge challenge too but since last summer, we are lucky to have a legendary team with us, relieving us from a significant pain.
If we had to sum up the meaning of Baltic Club’s sprit, we could say that our plan is to create even more each day and try to inspire with the willingness to becoming better humans at the same time.
All photos courtesy of Baltic Club.
Want to be featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details.