I'm a collector. I mean I really collect. I have a lot of collections and honestly, could have my own A Collection a Day blog (please note: that isn't my blog, but I do collect many of the same items). My adoration for vintage items has inspired many of my designs. One of my favorite vintage ephemera collections is my red border labels. There are so many shapes and sizes! It's amazing. I love each and every one and have been saving them for years.
A small sampling of my collection of red border labels.
I treasure these labels so much I rarely use them, even though they are perfect for letters and decorating packages. Being vintage I'm concerned if I use them all I won't find anymore. Which got me wondering how can I recreate labels like these? What can I do to make them better? I made a wish list for my own red-bordered label recreation. It included: variety of sizes, different shapes, sticky without the gummed back (yuck), no waste from leftover sheets like stickers, no box like the originals, on a roll for ease of use. I realized decorative tape could be my answer!
Last October, I started researching washi paper tape. After many months, I came to the realization no one in the USA manufactures washi paper tape. This was disheartening as I pride myself on American made goods. At first, I considered abandoning the project. But I kept coming back to it.
My washi tape designs with my vintage collection.
On the first of this year, I started over with my research and headed to Alibaba to find a source for washi. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands. I wasn't sure where to start and no one was offering advice. I asked two different small business groups I'm a part of and no one had worked with Alibaba for sourcing. I was on my own. This frightened me a little. But I jumped in, I ordered samples, asked lots of questions, lots…seriously, we went back and forth for over a month. I wanted to be sure I was clear on every single thing. I narrowed it down from thousands of manufacturers to five manufacturers to eventually one. I made sure I had an exclusivity agreement, the Alibaba trade assurance and a contract. Like I mentioned this process started in January. I just received the final product in mid-June. Production time was pretty short, about 12 working days. And shipping was through FedEx so that was quick too. The most time consuming part of the project wasn't even design. Instead it was all the budgeting, negotiating, researching companies and checking over all the details. Crunching numbers took time, probably more than necessary but I wanted to be certain I could get the figures to work with a manageable quantity. There's a huge price break for 5,000 but who wants to sit on that for years? Not this girl.
The finished product came in and I love them! They are absolutely perfect and fulfill all the wishes from my list. You can use a gel pen or permanent marker to write on them. I've also used a typewriter, which is adorable. Below is a study of different writing utensils used on them. See what you think & let me know your thoughts!
Group shot of labels with different writing utensils.
Finally, here is one typed on my vintage typewriter.