Behind the Stationery: MaeMae & Co.

There is something about Meg(an)s in stationery – there are so many of us! This is Megan of Mae Mae is she’s often known for her stunning mood boards that grace her Instagram. She’s got a killer aesthetic and has learned how to maximize and change the way she works with brides on their custom invitations. With so many options for brides (and their many requests!), Megan is here to share the system she set up for working in the custom world. Take it away, Megan! –The Other Megan
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Photo by Bethany Platter

I started MaeMae when I was a senior in college. I was studying art and LOVED all things paper and print. I thought I would pursue a career in book design/publishing after school. After graduating I couldn’t get a job (2008 – woohoo!!) and so I pushed into this tiny business I had as a side project and hustled to make it work. I call the first two years of MaeMae my “unpaid internship”. I have always worked at MaeMae “full-time” (sometimes much less, sometimes much more) but couldn’t have survived or made it work without the support of my husband, Jason, who has encouraged me, cared for me, and sacrificed a lot as I pursued this dream.

MaeMae-68-2Photo by Canary Grey

As most creative businesses do, MaeMae has evolved overtime. When I started the business I only did custom wedding stationery. Three years into MaeMae I created a collection of characters that were ready-to-order and retailers across the country began to carry an album I created that was filled with these designs. I dug into this route because I wanted to be able to scale my business, take on more orders, and work with more people without having to start from scratch every project.

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Photo by MaeMae & Co.

My collection of characters have been alive (and growing!) now for four years, but rarely do people order the designs as they were created. I’ve realized that the nature of my style/designs and our array of print methods and paper options invites (nay, tempts!) people to customize their suite further by meshing the different characters together, requesting custom patterns, illustrations, etc. We offer almost all print methods since we outsource our production (flat, engraving, letterpress, embossing, foil, etc!) and so just requesting a change in print method oftentimes requires digging in and redesigning. Instead of pushing back on the natural inclination to really want something totally unique from us, we run with it.

Photo by MaeMae & Co.

We are currently back where we started – offering all custom invitations but inviting people to start with an existing character if they so choose, which reduces the customization fee. I LOVE IT. It was a wonderful and necessary exploration, but I’m happy to call my work “custom” once again and I adore the imaginative and open-minded clients and wedding planners we have been working with now.

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Photo by Bethany Platter

MaeMae is currently located in Minneapolis, MN – one of the world’s best cities. I started MaeMae in the Los Angeles area and moved here three years ago. I love the collaborative spirit, buzzing creative community, and craving to be outside during the warm months here. I recently moved into a really amazing space downtown called Restore Collaboartive. It is a co-working space filled with lots of other creatives who work for themselves by themselves or with a team. The energy in here is INCREDIBLE. My favorite thing about joining this space (vs. running my own studio space) is being inspired by the hustle happening all around me and the white noise of people brainstorming, talking to clients, and making cool things.

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Photo by Bethany Platter

I would love to have a schedule!! I think…maybe I don’t and that’s why I don’t. 🙂 My day consists of responding to emails with clients, production partners, and collaborative projects; creating concepts and art direction; designing; meeting with new people; helping new designers; working with my designer/stationery consulting clients; styling photos; and dreaming up new ideas. Never do all of the things happen in one day. My designer Anna handles the bulk of the wedding orders and new inquiries daily, and I handle my creative consultation clients and big picture direction on our wedding designs.

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Photo by Bethany Platter

Any success of MaeMae ALWAYS comes from moments where I am most myself and make things that reflect how I feel, what I’m into, etc. I feel like side projects, my Instagram feed, etc, create the most buzz around my company because those are the truest expressions of who I am and what I want to make. I’m inspired by stories, music, editorial shots, interior designs, and dance. Check out the MaeMae Movie for more about my artist process and sourcing and using inspiration.

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Photo by MaeMae & Co.

Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery column? Please email Megan at [email protected]

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying the recaps from the 2015 National Stationery Show so far! We’ve got lots more coming next week, but in the meantime…

Wildfolk-Studio-Instagram-OSBP

Photo via Wildfolk Studio

…a few links for your weekend!

The last two weeks on OSBP:

Check back this afternoon for this week’s cocktail recipe! Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday! xoxo

Versailles-Inspired Wedding Invitations

I always love seeing the new wedding invitation designs dreamed up by Erin over at Lucky Luxe – and her latest design (appropriately named Marie Antoinette) is no exception! Erin drew inspiration from the Palace of Versailles and 18th century French fashion when creating this invitation suite. Think beautiful and ornamental design elements mixed with a beautiful pastel color palette!

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From ErinChrista and Andrew reached out to us in early 2014 to commission Marie Antoinette, our new highly ornamental invitation suite inspired by 18th century Versailles and the fashion of Marie Antoinette’s era, in a color palette inspired by vintage textiles Christa loved: lilac, peach, and dove gray. Andrew is classically trained in French cuisine (hello, French RSVP card!), and they would be married at New Jersey’s Addison Park, an exquisite venue with lavish black and white interiors fit for a queen. My mind ran away with visions of Kirsten Dunst’s punchy pastel Marie Antoinette tempered by the traditional 18th century style Christa loves so much.

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We found antique engravings from the period that remind me of Ladurée’s confection packaging, a tiny icon of a French creole sofa, and highly formal scripts paired with quirky 17th century mapmaking serifs to keep the design from feeling too serious. The antique engraving of an intertwined C&A monogram was the finishing touch for the envelope flap.

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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

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press

Steel Petal Press began straight out of college from Shayna’s deeply rooted background in stationery. Read on as Shayna gives us a look into her schedule as she breaks down the different aspects of her business and shares how they came to life. She shares some of her favorite business tools, including the reason why her business has been successful! –Megan

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful PaperPhoto by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

My name is Shayna Norwood and my company is Steel Petal Press, a letterpress stationery studio based in Chicago, Illinois. I started Steel Petal Press when I decided to print holiday cards to send to friends and family living far away. At the time, I was new to Chicago in my first year at grad school earning my MFA in Book and Paper Arts, and far from everyone I knew. After printing my letterpress projects for school, I would use the school’s studios to print personal work in my spare time. I found stores to sell any extra cards I had printed, and the company grew from there.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

The first two years, I operated Steel Petal Press on very part-time basis. I focused on my schoolwork and other art projects, and would only print new cards when I had and the chance and inspiration. In January 2011, I went full time and haven’t looked back since. Fun fact: The very first card I ever printed is Love from Chicago Skyline and it’s still one of my best sellers to date.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Steel Petal Press

I offer letterpress printed greeting cards, wedding invitations, and personalized stationery. I print, package, and ship all my products by hand in house. It’s definitely a labor of love. I started off doing just greeting card, and then incorporated personalized stationery and wedding invitations after a year. When I started Steel Petal Press full-time, wedding invitations were maybe 80-90% of my income (the margins are just so much better for me), but I have really been working on developing the wholesale side of my business, which has seen some significant growth in the last year or two.

My studio is currently located in a large building full of creative businesses in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago. It’s 500 square ft and I’ve been here for over two years. I’m just about busting at the seams and am looking to move into a larger space (hopefully a storefront) when my lease is up at the end of September. I own 2 printing presses, a paper trimmer, a paper cutter, and a manual score bar. The presses are both from the early 1960s. My Chandler and Price press is where I do most of my production work, and my Vandercook SP-15 is used to print larger areas, art prints, and wedding invitations.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

On a typical workday, I will wake up between 7-8 am. I try to exercise several mornings a week but this doesn’t always happen. After that, I usually spend a few hours on the computer: answering emails, working on client work, checking in on social media – my tasks vary depend on the day and the time of year. I head to the studio between 11 am – noon and do any number of tasks: working on the press, developing new products, designing new cards, working with custom clients, answering more emails, product photography or more social media.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper 187_SteelPetalPress

Photos by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

I have a part-time assistant that helps ship out orders, manages wholesale accounts and inventory, updates my online shop listings, etc. Her tasks also vary depending on the day and the time of year. I also have two interns that come in weekly. I typically go home around 6-7 pm, but have spent my fair share of late nights at the studio working into the wee hours. In the evenings, I eat dinner, read books, watch Netflix, or see friends. Some nights I end up doing more work from home (like tonight, I am typing this at 8:30 pm), but I’m definitely getting better at separating my work from my personal life.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Steel Petal Press

A few of my favorite business tools are:
Stitch Labs – for inventory tracking
Trello – for project management
Dropbox – for file sharing
Google Voice – for a business line
Mad Mimi – for newsletter and email marketing
Square – for taking payments on the go

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

I am inspired by humanity, connection, friendships, relationships, and communication. My ideas come from things I would want to communicate myself, and those ideas and phrases become the basis of my greeting card ideas. Once I have a list of ideas, I play around with the phrasing and typography to create a design that speaks accurately to what I am trying to say. I’ve found my most successful cards are the most authentic to my own voice.

My wedding stationery designs are more guided by visual inspiration. I spend a good amount of time looking at real wedding blogs and Pinterest. I try to keep up with the wedding trends and create wedding stationery that visually matches what’s going on culturally and in the wedding world.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photos by Steel Petal Press

I really enjoy having both greeting cards and wedding stationery as equal parts of my business. Last year I did just about 60% custom vs 40% retail and wholesale. My greeting cards are my creative outlet, where I really get to experiment however I want. Working on weddings can be very rewarding, but it does have some creative limitations. Both aspects create a nice balance in my business between client work and greeting cards, which I consider my personal work.

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Steel Petal Press

Behind the Stationery: Steel Petal Press via Oh So Beautiful Paper

Photo by Jennifer Kathryn Photography

I would not be able to balance all aspects of my business without the help of my assistant. She takes on a lot of the wholesale responsibilities, and helps with packaging cards, shipping out orders, tracking inventory, and ordering supplies. This leaves me more time to work directly with clients, to develop new products, to create new card designs and push the business forward.

Interested in participating in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at [email protected].

Happy Weekend!

Happy Friday everyone – and Happy Mother’s Day weekend to all the mamas and mamas-to-be out there! This weekend Sophie will attend her first little kid birthday party and I’m so excited! A group of little two and three year old girls all together? Completely adorable. But in the meantime…

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Photo by Knot & Bow via Instagram

…a few links for your weekend!

This week on Oh So Beautiful Paper:

Check back this afternoon for this week’s cocktail recipe! Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you back here on Monday! xoxo