Behind the Stationery: Darling + Pearl

Our next guest on Behind the Stationery is bartender-turned-stationer, Lauren Reed from Darling + Pearl Lettepress. Her stationery business focuses primarily on custom wedding invitation suites and Lauren’s here to share about how she works with her clients in innovative ways, encouraging couples to share non-designer work as inspiration. Welcome, Lauren! —Megan Soh

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

From Lauren: Hi! My name is Lauren Reed: bartender, turned designer + letterpress printer and the founder of Darling + Pearl Letterpress. I started designing stationery in 2009 during my engagement to now-hubby, Greg. Terribly cliché story, I know. After bartending throughout (and after) college, I was itching to find something to be wildly passionate about, so I put together a small collection of invitation designs to jump into the industry.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

Photo by Quarter Moon Co.

I knew I had a ton to learn, and a niche to find so as I settled in and started to get comfortable, I decided I wanted to understand the process and equipment involved in everything, but specifically letterpress printing. In 2010, I bought my first small press, followed by my 1905 Golding Pearl (part of my namesake). And in 2014 I bought my workhorse 10×15 C&P, along with some other additions to my cast iron “family”. I’m a natural born problem solver — dead on ISTP (if you’re familiar with Myers–Briggs Personality Types) — so really this entire learning, printing, business-owning process has brought me a greater understanding of myself and some of my greatest strengths (and weaknesses, naturally).

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

I currently work out of 2 different studio spaces (one for press and one for design and finishing) in the Central New Jersey area. At this point in my life, with two small kids (Declan 6, and Finna 3), a “typical” workday for me doesn’t really exist. It’s more like a typical week with flexible details.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

Mondays and Tuesdays are generally spent in my home studio designing, sketching, communicating, emailing, and ordering supplies to prepare for the following week’s presswork. Wednesdays and Thursdays are usually dedicated to the print studio. And Friday is flexible, even to the point of sometimes being able to keep my daughter Finna at home to hang (and help me style some stationery to photograph!). Since my work is all varying levels of custom, my work schedule is more of an ebb and flow and very much dependent on the communication of my clients at any given time. I find that it’s easier to batch projects so I’m moving them through the same part of the process at the same time.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

At this point in my career, I’m focused on custom/semi-custom (mostly wedding) letterpress and mixed media stationery.

I absolutely adore the process of piecing together a custom invitation suite and the supporting stationery — save the dates all the way through event day items and signage. For me, it’s very similar to completing a puzzle, or even successfully loading the dishwasher (haha, seriously though!). The elements are: the couple, their history, their vision, their colors, the venue and the *feel* of the event, as well as *my* aesthetic and design sense, which is also really important for me to hold on to. I love the challenge of balancing all of these items and at the same time creating a final design that both my clients and myself are head over heels in love with. It’s so corny, but I tell my clients that working with me for custom stationery, they really get a piece of my heart in the process. And I think realizing that has made all the difference in understanding that this is where I need to be for now.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

Since I handle the vast majority of production in house, it’s really a great opportunity for me to fulfill some different creative avenues without the typical risk (and the cost) of outsourcing to other production houses. It also enables me to stay creative with mixing and matching my processes in new and exciting ways.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

To get started, my clients fill out a contact questionnaire so I can send over some pricing and package options. Once the invoicing details are in place, I’ll setup a communication board (through Trello) where they can upload inspiration images, view proofs, their timeline, and have access to wording questionnaires, address templates, and they can sign off for final approvals- etc. What’s really great about this setup is the lack of emails, and the detailed (and easy to find) record of communication. There’s no searching though inboxes or mis-filing a final approval.

Another important revelation of the past couple years is in regards to inspiration images.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

I always felt a massive struggle to try to create something unique when my clients were putting other designer’s work in front of me. So at the end of 2015, I started asking for 4-5 non-stationery images (and I love floral inspiration!). I found that I had a great connection with their organic inspiration and it really helps me create something that fits them and their event. This is really where I started to develop my unique and recognizable “voice.” After I have their wording and inspiration, I put together the first proof. We then communicate any adjustments to work towards a final approval. Once everything is perfect, they sign off, settle the balance, and then I get to work (on the physical, churn-it-out side).

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

Assembly days are always my favorite. It’s the first time I get to see all the elements together in the same physical space and get to experience my entire vision really come to life. And most times it’s the culmination of weeks or months of work and collaboration.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

My favorite add-on-details to include are venue sketches and curated vintage postage. There are so many different postage options out there and it really allows us to tell their guests about some of the details of their lives, or even just deepen or accent the color palette that we’re using for their stationery. Plus, it always makes for a beautiful envelope, full of character. Adding a sketch to the package also helps distinguish the event in a new an unexpected way from what people have grown accustomed to.

Behind the Stationery: Darling & Pearl

Photos courtesy of Darling + Pearl Letterpress except where noted.

Want to be featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

I’m so excited to introduce our first hand-carved woodblock designer that we’re featuring on the Behind the Stationery column! Rachel from Heartell Press is here to take us through her processes – from the intricacies of designing and carving each block, to growing her business, to ensuring her team is self-sufficient enough for her to take some time to adjust to being a new mom. She started Heartell Press in Brooklyn, but has since moved to Indiana with her husband and into a beautiful spacious studio. Here’s Rachel! —Megan Soh

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

From Rachel: Heartell Press cards are printed from hand-carved woodblocks. Woodcut was always my favorite of the printmaking processes, and the folksy look of the carved images and the organic textures created by the woodgrain are a good fit for our warm, sincere designs and messages. There are great designers who use linoleum blocks (Katharine Watson, Ghost Academy, and Kaibelle Designs are my favorites), but as far as I know we are the only line printed from wood. It has taken lots of trial and error to learn to print our blocks consistently and at scale using letterpress equipment, but I think our customers appreciate that each card is truly handmade on every level.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

The carving is time-consuming, especially because each color we add to a design means carving a separate block. I’m always working on ways to preserve the look and feel of what we make while streamlining the process for producing our products. For the new spring collection we’re working on now, I’m carving the key block — the part of the image that has the most detail and information — and experimenting with photopolymer plates to add lots of additional color. I’m excited because if it works we’ll be able to release new cards with lots of color and add new types of products to our line more frequently while still offering cards and prints that are true to the Heartell aesthetic and unique in our industry.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

My path to stationery was long and winding. It took doing a lot of the wrong things to find the right thing. I went to grad school twice, first to earn an academic degree in religion and art history from Yale Divinity School and then an MFA in printmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. After I finished school in 2009, I moved to New York and cobbled together a living with multiple part-time jobs. I worked in a church, as a nanny, and eventually ran a non-profit. All the while I was renting a (super expensive and tiny) art studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn, and trying to squeeze in as many hours per week there as possible making paintings and prints. I had a few shows in Brooklyn and Manhattan, but it was tough trying to build an art career and pay rent in New York.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

In 2012 my mom was diagnosed with cancer, and that experience made me question the chaotic existence I was living and inspired me to find a way to do the creative work I love full time. Since I was having a hard time finding sympathy cards that I liked enough to send to my mom between visits, I started having ideas for making my own cards. People in my life and my community in Brooklyn were responding to them in a way that made me think there might be something there.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

I began to look more closely at the stationery industry, and when I discovered that there was a wholesale market for handmade stationery, especially at the National Stationery Show (through the OSBP blog!), the idea for Heartell Press was born. I did research and worked on developing my line and launched the website in 2014. I exhibited for the first time at NSS in 2016 and that is when the wholesale part of Heartell took off and I was able to leave my day jobs and focus on the business full time.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

In 2016, my husband and I decided to leave Brooklyn and move to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he grew up. The move has been great for us and for Heartell, giving me lots more time and space to devote to it. In November 2017, we moved the business into a new studio space here in Fort Wayne. It is two-thirds less expensive than the space I rented in Brooklyn and eight times bigger! We have room for our presses, including a new (to us) 10×15 Chandler and Price that we added to our shop when we moved, as well as inventory, a shipping and fulfillment space, office space for me to do my designing and carving, and plenty of storage. The building has a beautiful atrium full of tropical plants that is like a greenhouse, and I love being able to walk around it when I need to think or stretch after lots of drawing or carving.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

Heartell designs start with bits of text or images that I collect in lists for each card and product category (I use Trello for organizing all my lists, plans and tasks). My best cards are inspired by experiences I’m having in my own life and relationships. The earliest Heartell cards are all sympathy, love, and encouragement cards that I made when my mom first got sick. It will be pretty obvious when the new collection comes out that many of the designs I’m working on now have been inspired by the experience of being pregnant (and also watching friends and family members who have had children).

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

I try to make cards that I would genuinely want to give or receive. There are lots of funny cards right now about all the (sometimes unwelcome) changes that come when you have a baby, like having to deal with tons of poo, and those definitely serve an important purpose in the process of preparing to be a parent. Funny isn’t really my forte though, and I tend to swing toward more sincere, emotional messages. When I do retail markets I almost always have a customer tear up at my booth at some point during the event. I’m not sure if making people cry is something I should be proud of but I’m glad that I’ve found a way to put all my feelings to good use!

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

When I’m ready to design a new collection, I go through our current catalog to see which parts of our line could use fleshing out or freshening up. Then I comb through my stockpile of ideas and draw thumbnails with colored pencils to begin mapping out new designs. Once I have an idea of the collection as a whole, I use my Wacom tablet and Photoshop and Illustrator to draw the full scale images and lay out the text. I used to do this with pencils and markers on vellum, doing lots of tracing and scanning to come up with the final designs, but the tablet has made the process much faster and more fun.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

When the designs have been edited and vetted by as many people as I can get to look at them and I’m satisfied with my plans, I print guides using a laser printer and transfer them to blocks of Shina plywood (a wood that is both soft for easy carving and strong enough to hold detail that is harvested sustainably in Japan specifically for printmaking). I use Japanese carving tools to carve the blocks, and then we mount them in the presses for printing.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

Since there is a separate block for each color, including the scoring run, some cards pass through the press up to four times! I love seeing the new designs printed for the first time. It is always a thrill to see something I’ve dreamed up become a finished product.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

Like many of the business owners I’ve read about in this column, I spend a lot of my time these days running the business end of things. Fortunately I’ve discovered that I enjoy communicating with customers, managing cash flow, looking at numbers and planning for growth. But now that I have help with fulfillment and printing, I am finding lots more time for drawing and designing and carving blocks for new products, which are my favorite parts of my job. I love working on marketing projects too, and I do all our product photography, design our catalogs, and prepare for trade shows.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

I set different goals for each year, and my big one for 2018 is to get Heartell ready to run without my constant attention for a few months while I take some time to welcome our new baby and adjust to being a parent. I feel grateful to have lots of inspiration from other business owners in our field (Nole included!) who have families, and while I’m sure it will be a big transition I feel confident that we’ll be able to find a good equilibrium over time.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

I’ve come to find that stationery is a better fit for me than fine art for a lot of reasons, but one of the things I love most about this industry is how generous and open people are. The fine art world in New York has a deeply competitive culture, and it has been a gift for me to connect with other designers and retailers who are willing to share information, encouragement and support. The more variety there is in terms of design, the more letters people will write and the more connected they’ll be to each other. It feels like we are all part of something that is bigger than any one company or store individually and I love looking at things that way.

Behind the Stationery: Heartell Press

Photo Credits: Product photos by Heartell Press // Studio photos by Ruth Yaro.

Want to be featured in the Behind the Stationery column? Reach out to Megan at megan [at] ohsobeautifulpaper [dot] com for more details.

St. Patrick’s Day Rainbow and Gold Party Inspiration

Did you grow up celebrating St. Patrick’s Day? My family has a bit of Irish heritage, but with Easter and Passover so close behind the extent of our celebrations usually involved baking a green cake or cupcakes to celebrate. But those are still some of my favorite memories from my childhood, and I’m looking forward to continuing the tradition with my own kids! Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” theme than traditional shamrocks and monochromatic green. So today I thought I’d round up a bit of St. Patrick’s Day rainbow and gold party inspiration to share with all of you!

St. Patrick's Day Rainbow and Gold Party Inspiration

From top right:

1. Pastel rainbow tissue paper tassels are the perfect way to bring rainbow vibes into your St. Patrick’s Day party décor! I also love this set with iridescent mylar strips in the rainbow tassels.

2. Pair the rainbow tassels with gold paper party fans from My Mind’s Eye!

3. Glittery green shamrock cupcake picks are the perfect place to bring the traditional St. Patrick’s Day motif into your party décor! Or you could go edible with these fondant shamrocks. But if shamrocks really aren’t your thing, these rainbow cupcake toppers have a ring back and can double as party favors!

4. These balloons add just the right amount of gold sparkle to any party

5. I’m absolutely obsessed with these new party plates from Oh Happy Day! The colors in this rainbow plate are just perfect, and these round plates come in two sizes and every shade of the rainbow (I’m loving this mint green hue).

6. Gold foil cupcake liners, obviously.

7. This gold dot napkin kind of looks like gold nuggets, don’t you think? And these rainbow napkins are so fun!

8. Kids looooooove party straws! I’m into these gold party straws and these reusable rainbow stainless steel straws

9. Take your cupcakes up a notch with one of these rainbow sprinkle medleys by Sweatapolita via Shop Sweet Lulu

10. Classic party cups in every color of the rainbow!

 

Are you planning to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this year? And for those of you that have kids, what are your favorite kids activities for St. Patrick’s Day? Spill all the details in the comments!

p.s. DIY pastel rainbow crepe paper backdrop and rainbow unicorn birthday party inspiration

January Advertising Special!

Good morning everyone! I have a big announcement for my stationer friends this morning! January can be a rough month, since we’re all just coming off all the holiday sparkle and heading back to reality after spending time with loved ones during the holiday break. So! I decided to make January a bit brighter by offering 30% off BOTH sidebar advertising and the first year of membership in our Designer Rolodex!

OSBP January Advertising Special

All new Designer Rolodex members will get 30% off their first year of membership from now until January 31. The application process is so easy, just fill out the form on this page! I can’t WAIT to hear from you! And while I was at it, I thought I might as well extend the same offer to anyone interested in sidebar advertising! And yes, this offer also applies to multi-month ads, so book up now and save big! You can get in touch with us for ad rates and more info right here.

If you aren’t already familiar with the Designer Rolodex, it’s our curated directory of wedding invitation designers and a fantastic resource for couples looking to find the perfect designer for their wedding stationery. When I got married in 2008 – back in the early days of blogging! – I had a tough time both finding unique and creative design inspiration for my wedding invitations and finding an independent stationer to work with. I spent countless hours searching the internet, browsing portfolios, and collecting images (pre-Pinterest!) from magazines and online. So I started OSBP later that year with the goal of showcasing amazing wedding invitations and helping connect readers with invitation designers. All Designer Rolodex members are hand selected by me, and every single member produces the most gorgeous invitations you’ll ever see. I won’t claim that the Rolodex is the largest directory of invitation designers, but I truly believe that the Rolodex membership represents the best of the best.

So! If you’ve had an invitation featured on OSBP in the past and you’re looking to make 2018 your best year in business yet – or if you’re a super talented new designer just starting out – join the Rolodex! Membership is normally just $300/year and will absolutely pay for itself if you book just ONE client through the Rolodex in the next year. Designer Rolodex members can display their portfolio, get discovered by location, style, and printing methods, share links to their social pages – and there’s even a link to past editorial features on OSBP. We’ll also be resuming our popular Meet the Rolodex posts (but on the blog this time!!) in 2018, so now’s the time to become a member!

Engaged couples, be sure to check out the Designer Rolodex to browse portfolios and find your perfect invitation designer!

And stationers, if you’re already a Rolodex member, now would be the perfect time to update your portfolio and present your newest, bestest work to all of our new visitors. Here’s to a fabulous 2018!

Invitation Photo: Athena Bludé Photography from these Romantic Blush and Gray Wedding Invitations (one of my faves!) by Designer Rolodex member Coral Pheasant

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations

We simply love it when people stick to the classics and execute an elegant suite to the perfection. Raymond Ramirez-Manzo by KidGolightly Calligraphy designed these stunning vintage-inspired dusty blue wedding invitations with dainty calligraphy detailing. Deckled edges, spot illustrations, and stunning ribbon accents: these invitations are simply darling!

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

From Raymond: I love creating custom wedding invitation designs for ladies and gents on their big day. These invitations pay homage to the very first invitations that I designed four years ago. My mom asked me if I could create a design for their Pearl Wedding Anniversary. At that time, I was in marketing and had no idea what to do. Little did I know, that moment would lead me to my wildest dreams coming true.

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

So here’s the story: While doing my research regarding invitations, there was a sense of unexplainable thrill slowly filling up my body and that lead me to discover this art called calligraphy: I knew about it but it didn’t dawn on me that a regular person could do it. That discovery shook my soul. From then on, every fiber of my body knew that this was the career path I wanted to pursue. Fast forward 4 years, finally realizing the perfect branding and doing well in my first year doing calligraphy full time. The idea behind this design was to re-create that wedding invitation suite and pay homage to the invitation that started it all.

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

With my aesthetics, I always thrive to make it feel romantic and timeless, so I wanted to breathe that same vibe into this particular suite. I also wanted it to have structure, so I played with lines in the layout to match the serif font, embossing those lines for added subtle texture. The heart of the design is the couple’s names in my signature calligraphy style, along with an illustration of a Villa on top of a hill. I wanted the design to look effortless, yet fancy.

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

The invitation is printed on 100% cotton rag handmade paper from Fabulous Fancy Pants, leaving the natural deckled edges untouched for that organic textural element. The same handmade paper envelope was used for the main invitation. I used a Mist colored envelope a with euro flap for the partner envelope for the reply card, with the return address calligraphed as well. For this suite specifically, Little Postage House curated a romantic collection of vintage stamps that I think fits it perfectly. The wax seal stamp from Saint Signora added some old world feel as a beautiful finishing touch.

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

I am so happy with how everything turned out. Sydney captured everything in film, while Alisha and Bethany added some floral magic to this shoot. The whole thing was extra special and it felt like I came full circle!

Vintage Inspired Dusty Blue Calligraphy Wedding Invitations by KidGolightly Calligraphy

Thanks, Raymond!

Design: KidGolightly Calligraphy
Florals: Native Bloom Floral
Postage stamps: Little Postage House
Paper: Fabulous Fancy Pants

Check out the Designer Rolodex for more tal­ented wed­ding invi­ta­tion design­ers and the real invi­ta­tions gallery for more wedding invitation ideas!

Photo Credits: Sydney Tolifson Photography