Show of Hands 2014

Several years ago I decided to stop participating in retail shows. Instead, I would focus my energy on wholesaling. This was a pretty big decision but I decided I needed to take some time, especially around the holidays to sit back and actually enjoy the season. And it’s been wonderful! Sure, I missed the extra cash but time to bake cookies, decorate my home, attend parties & not be exhausted the morning after in a cold gym for 8 hours the next day peddling my goods has certainly been worth it.

Last year my no more retail shows motto was challenged. I received an email from Emily of Orange Beautiful asking me to be a part of a new show she was putting together, Show of Hands. I was reluctant initially and explained my motto. Emily then shared her passion of curating an amazing group of professional artists, designers & craftspeople in the Ravenswood neighborhood (same as my studio). It was scheduled for the weekend before Thanksgiving, which happens to be before my hustle & bustle of the season. If you’ve ever visited Emily’s shop or blog you know she has impeccable taste. Her passion was contagious & I knew she had what it took to put together a successful show, so I agreed.

It was honestly, like no other show I had ever done. The quality of vendors was fantastic! I was even able to get some holiday shopping done myself. And the aisles were large, in a beautiful (& warm) space. Even during the busiest times you could move through the space comfortably while shopping. I’m honored to say, this year I am again part of Show of Hands. You should visit me & 59 of my independent artist, designer & craftspeople friends. After all, wouldn’t you like to invest in a few craftspeople dreams this holiday, while shopping some of the best, most creative, local handmade items? Happy Holidays, we hope to see you there!

A Chicago Classic

I love Chicago. Seriously. It's absolutely magical. And unless you've experienced it, it's hard to explain. But I'll try... I think Chicago is filled with the friendliest people and greatest food. Not to mention we have Barack Obama, an amazing lakefront, beautiful architecture, grand museums, culturally rich neighborhoods, lollapalooza, pitchfork, a magical skyline & bridges that smell like chocolate. Not bad for the third largest city in the U.S.

One Chicago classic I enjoy visiting is Superdawg. It's a drive-in, that serves THE best Chicago Dog in town (I can say that now that Hot Dougs is gone). It's been at the corner of Devon and Milwaukee since 1948 and not much has changed. It's perfect! What's not to love with the vintage graphics, menu, drive-in speakers, bright neon, amazing vintage style packaging, perfect typography & delicious hotdogs?

Chicago Ideas Week

This week I hosted my very first Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) lab.

A few months ago CIW reached out to me, asking if I’d be interested in hosting a behind-the-scenes experience of our business. If you’re not familiar with CIW, they describe it as follows: “Chicago Ideas Week brings together hundreds of the world's brightest thought leaders to inspire, connect, and activate the city of Chicago and beyond.” I was honored they sought me out but I’m a shy person by nature and was a bit apprehensive. I have an ongoing battle of shyness vs. letterpress passion/business, yet the more I researched CIW, the more I wanted to participate. I really love the idea of sharing my passion for letterpress printing with the rest of the world.

In the past, I have hosted schools, art students, young authors and several one-on-one aspiring letterpress printers with ease. This was much more difficult for me as I had no idea what my guest’s backgrounds were. This made me question how technical I should be while presenting the process. At times, I noticed I was stumbling on words and rambling on a bit. However, once I began demonstrating actual letterpress printing, I was much more at ease. I love printing on my 1913 platen press, it feels natural and the desire to share that experience really helped me to focus. The attendees participated by printing, cutting and corner rounding several of their very own postcards designed specifically for the event. And while I may have started out a bit rocky, the end result was great. Everyone was enthusiastic about printing, extremely respectful of our studio and asked incredibly thoughtful questions. Both the CIW participants and volunteers were wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for a better group. Finally, after demonstrating the craft and effort that go into each card, one participant said, “now I appreciate why a letterpress printed card costs $5.00 or more,” which made me feel great. Overall I’m considering this a big win for letterpress passion, it was a fantastic experience and I hope to have the opportunity to host a lab again next year.

Our new website is here!

Welcome to the new & improved a. favorite design website!

After many years of hiring friends, (and friends of friends), to create our website, we finally took the plunge & hired a real company...and what a difference! Way back in February, we started interviewing companies with hopes to launch our new site in May, just in time for the National Stationery Show. Needless to say, we had some hiccups along the way. After trying to work with two different, very non-responsive companies, we had to put the project, albeit briefly, on hold. We simply needed to dedicate more time and find a company that would commit fully to the project and have a sense of urgency.

I researched many websites & kept noticing, the sites I really loved & admired, were all created by the same company. In my mind, I decided we didn't have the budget to work with such a high profile company. However, after much frustration and coaxing from tom, (my mr. and marketing guru), we reached out to Aeolidia and I am so glad we did! From the start they were responsive to our questions, and were ready with an impressive timeline, which really helped ease our concerns. What a relief, and a huge improvement over the other companies we previously stalled with. The expertise and professionalism Aeolidia conveyed really helped make our decision much easier.

Budget was a huge concern but to my surprise they were comparable to the other estimates we received. While it was a bit of a stretch financially, at this point in our existence, a new website, with wholesale capability was just plain necessary. I was still having reservations about the expense when coincidentally, almost the moment I decided to partner with Aeolidia, we received several emails from interested stores inquiring about a wholesale section to our website. This was a good sign we made the right decision.

To be honest, it was difficult to surrender design to someone I had never met and whose work I wasn't familiar with. I was terribly nervous awaiting the first proof. When our designer Sarah sent us the link, I took a few deep breaths before clicking through and...it was absolutely perfect! I was smitten from the very first moment! Sarah carried our branding through flawlessly and impressed me every step of the way. This initially daunting, stressful & expensive project actually became fun. I looked forward to seeing every new update. Every solution she offered was perfect and at times I felt like we were sharing a brain, I loved it.

I'm not going to sugar coat it, re-launching a website is a massive undertaking. I spent six and a half weeks reshooting all our products. Not to mention the time spent color correcting and editing. Fortunately, the content wasn't from scratch, I'm very organized when it comes to work projects, and that helped a lot. I had my original outline from our first site, which I put a lot of effort into, so it really just needed tweaking. Zoe, our coder was able to import all our files from the previous site, which also saved us a ton of time. So here we are, ready to launch and I couldn't be more ecstatic with the look and feel of our new site. I'm excited to see what our customers have to say! Please let us know your thoughts, we'd love to hear from you and more than anything we hope you enjoy the new site!