These exquisite gold engraved cards and notes were created for a recent client by Fresh Ink, located in Jackson, Mississippi. The client, a “mother of the groom,” wanted distinguished stationery for correspondence regarding parties, notes of appreciation and general letter writing during such a special family time.
Personalized stationery should always reflect the personality of the sender—or, in the case of one savvy scribe, her stripes. For etiquette expert Lisa Grotts’ personalized stationery, her monogram was nestled into a vibrantly red zebra on a crisp, white correspondence card and paired with a matching red envelope lining. Linda Burns of Burns and Associates Fine Printing in San Francisco helped turn her vision into a reality. Below, they talk about why stationery is like shoes and why people seem to be returning to paper and pen.
The Customer: Lisa
Tell me about your design and how did you reach your decision to go with it?
My company logo used to have an icon of the Golden Gate Bridge, as in “bridging” the gap of communities etc. The zebra icon has the same effect for me: It shows the many lines of communication and cleverly done. I used to have it in navy blue but switched over to lucky red in 2015. I also have them as calling cards.
Did you know what you wanted going into your first appointment and did that change at all?
Decisive is my middle name. I told Linda Burns ahead of time to pull out the stops on the zebra cards as well as the color, but I’m a softie when it comes to stationery (I have more styles than jeans), so I generally end up buying double or sometimes triple the amount as I like choice. Some people require formal thank you notes, others do not—that’s when the zebra comes in handy.
For you, what is the value of personalized stationery?
As a certified etiquette expert, I teach the value of why one needs to have the perfect stationery wardrobe. I have written a piece on my Huffington Post blog on this subject, and business and social stationery components are part of most of my etiquette seminars. More is more when it comes to stationery, just like shoes and handbags—paper is the “It” accessory. Thank you for asking.
The Stationer: Linda
Tell me about working with Lisa and how you helped guide her through the design process.
I work often with Lisa and she loves stationery as I do. She is very clear and decisive and she’s wonderful to work with. I take what she likes and then mock it up into various uses—business cards, note cards, fold-overs, stationery, etc.
What are the questions you usually ask every customer who comes in wanting to order personalized stationery?
I always spend the time to make sure I know what a customer likes and how they intend to use their stationery before I offer suggestions. I show them examples and give them alternatives and options. Stationery decisions are visual ones, and it’s helpful to have a customer see the choices.
In today’s digital age, what is the importance of personalized stationery?
Invitations set the tone for an event and personal notes, thank yous, remembrances—handwritten and personal—are important enough to be done on paper rather than digitally sent. I find that more and more people are returning to printed forms rather than digital when they want to distinguish it from the e-formats. I hear often, “I enjoy receiving something in the mail rather than on the screen—I like to hold it in my hand and have it around when I’m not online to refer to. I also like to write a personal note so it doesn’t look like a group message.”
We always say that a couple’s wedding invitation should set the tone for the big day. Which is why for Andriana and Alexander’s wedding in Santorini, a city that exudes classic, traditional elegance, only a stunning script engraved atop our ecru paper will do. With the help of Bruce Ebling at Siegrist Engraving in Kansas City, the couple chose just that. Here, the seasoned stationer shares his opinion on invitation style and the bride talks about falling in love and finding “the one” (perfect invitation, that is).
The Bride: Andriana
Tell me about the process of choosing your wedding stationery—did you have something in mind and did that change?
Siegrist Engraving in Kansas City, Missouri was absolutely wonderful! Bruce Ebling was so accommodating and we had a fabulous time pouring over all possibilities before finding “the one.”
Describe the stationery you ended up with and why you fell in love with that design.
The invitations we selected were very classic and stunning. I immediately fell in love with these invitations! Our invitation created an atmosphere and inspired our selections for every last detail of the wedding. When I was first able to see my invitations and touch them, it almost brought me to tears because they were so gorgeous.
Was there anything about the process of choosing your stationery that you weren’t expecting?
I was not expecting to receive so many phone calls and compliments regarding the invitations. I thought they were amazing, but I did not expect that the invitations would make such an impression. Continue reading
Every couple’s invitation ordering process is a unique experience. While some may prefer to order them online from the comfort of their couch, others would rather spend time browsing invitation albums in a store, where they can touch the paper, see the details of each design up close and have the professional guidance of a retailer. Most, however, choose a combination of the two. They’ll peruse various wedding invitation sites online, discover what they like (and don’t like) and then head to a local stationer to see samples and place their order.
Newlyweds Avo and William first visited our website, found a design they liked and then worked with the team at Paper Source in Austin to make it their own. Here, the couple talks about the importance of quality paper, while Laurie, the stationer who helped them, shares why Avo and William’s design choice was right on-trend.
The Couple: Avo and William
Tell me how you and your fiance met, and how did he propose?
My fiance and I have been very close friends since we first met at his mother’s birthday party in 2009. After this long-term friendship, we started our relationship with our friends’ and families’ blessing. In February 2014, we went on a trip to Alaska, and my fiance proposed to me in the snow under the magical northern light. I still feel the excitement every time I recall that scene!
It’s no secret that our 100% cotton Lettra paper is coveted by letterpress printers. In fact, we like to say it goes together with the printing process like Fred and Ginger. But, we never thought of our Lettra as the perfect canvas, but luckily, artist and Vermont College of Fine Arts student Wendy Briggs Powell did.
“Six months ago, I had been dying strips of various papers on a smaller scale and knew I wanted to work larger,” she recalled. “Another student has been using Lettra for her letterpress work and I went crazy over the feel and heft of her take-away cards at residency! So I thought Lettra was just the right paper to create larger pieces that would withstand soaking for many hours, days even, in containers of dye. I was right! And I do love the pairing of old and new as well.”
Below is a video as well as images of Powell’s work along with a little about her process.
When we stumbled upon writer David Infante’s lovely online piece praising the practice of writing letters, we of course wanted to know more about the 26-year-old New Yorker’s fancy for classic correspondence. Here, the former conscious thank you note objector shares why railroad spikes may make for good pen pal letters and writing while curious always has the potential for a most memorable response.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
In college. When I was a kid, my parents made me write “thank you” notes to anyone who gave me a gift—Christmas, birthday, etc.—and I hated it. Sometimes, if the gift wasn’t even that good, I would be angry that it had been given to me. Now I have to write another note, and for what?! I would fight back, too, if I had already verbally thanked the giftee face-to-face. As a Cool Teen™ trying to spend as much time as possible playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater on N64, I didn’t see the point of sending a note after the fact—it seemed redundant.
When I got to college, I was sort of lost. I had a really rough freshman year at a small liberal arts school, and I hated it. I was depressed and alone. I don’t want to make it sound like writing notes “saved” me—I was living a perfectly acceptable life for a college freshman, I was just a bit down on myself. So to cheer myself up, I started collecting my friends’ home addresses and sending them Christmas cards. Just for the hell of it. Everyone seemed to get a kick out of it, so then I did it again at Easter, then again the following Christmas and so on. Obviously I still wrote “thank you” notes—it was an ingrained habit at that point. It kinda went from there, but it started because I had a lot of downtime and wasn’t enjoying myself in a new environment.
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
It’s all in the details.
Over the years we’ve received a mailbox’s (the big USPS blue variety, that is) worth of emails asking us for advice on how one goes about designing personalized stationery for someone else. After all, it is a gift that is so, well, personal. When we came across stationery enthusiast Lauren’s design for her parents, we knew she would have some words of wisdom on the subject.
What was the inspiration behind this design?
My dad works for the New York Racing Association and my mom is a horse lover through and through. They spend the summer in Saratoga, NY and are out almost every night of the week at someone’s home for cocktails or dinner. I thought these flat cards would be perfect for sending thank you notes to their hosts.
Nothing says classic to me like gold engraved stationery. I loved the idea of a simple equestrian motif, and given their involvement in racing, this horse was a perfect choice. I used my parents’ informal names and chose a striped envelope liner to add a little playfulness to the design.
Meet Marieke Hardy, co-founder of the live series Women of Letters. Along with fellow Aussie writer Michaela McGuire, the duo created an intimate show that has placed everyone from notable actresses to what Marieke likes to call “dark horses” on stage with their missives. Here, the self-proclaimed writer to “anybody and everybody” shares about a special postcard project, legendary Australian feminists and why you won’t be able to download the show’s podcast (and why that’s a good thing).
Michaela and Marieke
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
I was a voracious letter writer in my 20s. I would write to anybody and everybody: Politicians, passerby, the company who made my favourite lipstick. I liked to write thank you cards; I felt there were too many complaint letters in the world. (To everybody who received a weird ‘I really love your muesli!’ card from me in the 90’s, you’re welcome!) These days I have lots of secret postcard projects, and obviously Women of Letters means we have to keep the flame alive!
Click the image to enlarge.
For more guidance on your business stationery wardrobe, please read our Business Essentials guide.