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Our office will be closed Thursday, November 23 and Friday, November 24, 2017. Normal business hours resume Monday.

Smock Store Spotlight on The Stationery Station

Today we’re shining the spotlight on The Stationery Station, a paper + gift shop based in Highland Park, Illinois celebrating 40 years in business! We sat down with the owner, Sheryl Oberman, to learn about the shop and how everything got started. 

Sheryl Oberman, owner of the Stationery Station

I have loved paper and party planning since I was a child, watching my mom, who had some flair, create accessories for events she would host. She also planned a beautiful wedding for me! My college degree is in teaching high school English, with a minor in Rhetoric – so you can see where this is going. I took that background and love for paper several steps beyond. Totally by coincidence a friend, who also loved paper, went to a local shop to buy party goods for me since I had just recently moved to this town and had a newborn baby and was having a party. I knew little about our neighborhood and could not yet get out to explore. She came back and told me the lady was selling her business. Without blinking an eye I said, “let’s buy it!”. The shop was in a converted old home and I suggested the name Stationery Station and my partner agreed, with the stipulation that we use a station master as our logo. We had a lamp post out front so we hung our sign and suddenly became stationers!!

A peek inside The Stationery Station in Highland Park, Illinois

Our husbands were agreeable and the former shop owner mentored us for a few months. My partner was pregnant at the time and once her child was born we alternated days and our babies napped in a crib we added upstairs. When the babies were a bit older they sometimes crawled around the carpeted floors as we worked with customers! My daughter once chewed on a package of napkins. Later on, the kids were with day care, our families, or preschool.  After about 3 years we split up and I moved the shop to the main street a block away.

About 20 years ago I opened a second store in Chicago with someone who had worked for me as a teenager. I licensed my name to her and she had the shop for several years until she started a family and moved back to our town. 16 years ago I moved the shop a few doors away to our current location. It was 2 shops so that our retail merchandise could be in one room and our custom invitations in a smaller room. This allowed us to offer a quieter area to give total attention to our customers with a more personal touch.

The Stationery Station in Highland Park, Illinois, was featured recently by the Daily North Shore newspaper

Two years ago I recognized that children’s invitations were not selling well and had become more of an online item. They were displayed on 2 units so that was my cue to downsize! We linked up on our website with a few large vendors that sell the kids’ items and that is working out nicely. The “old” store still offers cool desk accessories, leather items, notepads, and my favorite – ribbon and wrap! The custom room has imprintables along with a few other related items but primarily has many, many invitation albums, as well as loose samples from Smock, Bella Figura and other vendors. Brides, in particular, like to view loose samples, and we also show these on a screen and in boxes so that their customization options are evident. 

I enjoy creating invitations and bringing a customer’s vision to reality. It’s rewarding to me to know that someone puts our store on their list of places to go on any day. My education and knowledge of proper etiquette and grammar, combined with our design sensibility, plays a part in our status of being one of the finest stationers on our North Shore.

A peek inside at the ribbon wall at The Stationery Station in Highland Park, Illinois

I believe that being able to open a shop 40 years ago and calling it our own was and is special. The freedom to be able to pursue a course that was never clearly my dream but became my love is genuinely amazing to me. Women at this time were teachers, as I was initially, doctors, attorneys, and so on… yet owning a shop seemed rare and slightly difficult to explain to the bank. One last love about the store is to be still creating an invitation or even wrapping a gift for our customers and seeing them genuinely thrilled! A recent customer just wrote me a wonderful note, and these testimonials and calls make us feel respected and rewarded. It is a heartwarming business and our goal is to fulfill a customer’s vision and offer them our valued advice.

 Does your store support any charities or special causes? We offer a donation or place an ad nearly every week with several charities, schools, and local or needy organizations. At the time of our 35th anniversary, we donated a portion of our sales to a group that supports women getting into the workforce. This year I am considering other options. One of the retail lines I carry is called Monkey Business and we sell their beaded animals and a few bowls made from phone wires. They are in South Africa and the company benefits the women who make these. Many of our customers who have traveled to Africa recognize these and buy them or comment on how wonderful it is that they are so well made and the women reap the benefits.

A peek inside at the selection of custom stationery albums available at The Stationery Station in Highland Park, Illinois

If someone is visiting your shop, what are the other essential stops in your neighborhood? Our town has wonderful cultural features. One is actually across one of our town’s main streets in the next town but it is literally 5-10 minutes away. This is the Chicago Botanic Gardens. They feature exhibits throughout the year, events take place there and it is truly a beautiful, cultivated sight. I run there in the warm weather on one of their tree lined paths! Another is the wonderful Ravinia Festival. It is an outdoor performance venue featuring major symphonies, renown musicians and performers. There are children’s features throughout the year as well. Tickets may be purchased for a covered pavilion or many, many people from all over the Chicago area come to have casual or elaborate picnics on the lawn. Restaurants are plentiful in all price ranges and it is an amazing feature in our town.

Since Highland Park is located on Lake Michigan we are very excited to have stunning beaches. One was redone recently with walking trails, bluffs, rock formations and a lovely glass building in which they offer children’s classes. Last June I made myself a birthday party on the boardwalk (luckily on a beautiful evening) and was joined by my amazing staff (see below). 

Stationery Station staff celebrates owner Sheryl's 70th birthday last summer

 In my shop, I love my ribbons and wrap. I do custom gift wrapping and was chosen and flown to NYC along with 7 other people a few years ago to be in Scotch brand gift wrap contest. It was very exciting and although I did not win, being chosen as one of 8 was very cool! 

The Stationery Station's entry into the Scotch most gift wrapper contest

Our current favorite trend is really a trend I was naively offering my customers and yet had little knowledge of 35 or more years ago! I love combining letterpress with foil stamping. It adds just the right amount of flair when done subtly. In our early years we worked with a man who owned a foil stamping company, and since he lived in Chicago we became friendly with him and he would print our stock for note cards or invitations. At that time, we carried Crane and a vendor called Fante. Once in a while, we would need to go to his home to pick up an order and he would show us his machinery which in those days used individual pieces of lead. He showed us how he pressed these pieces of lead into the machine! Aha! Letterpressing! He would remind us to limit the copy on an invite so he would not run out of letters!

Many thanks to Sheryl for giving us a glimpse inside her shop – and congratulations on 40 years in business! Here’s to many more! 

Smock Studio Tour with Invitations & Company

Today we’re sharing a peek inside the studio of Boston-based Invitations & Company. Founder Arlene Cronk is celebrating 25 years in business this year, and has crafted a warm, intimate space for her clients. In addition to running a successful stationery business, Arlene founded the Boston Wedding Group and Marketing to the High-End Bride. BWG is the largest and oldest wedding industry association in New England, while Marketing to the High-End Bride is the most widely attended event for wedding professionals in New England. Arlene also founded a New York Wedding Group, where she was president from 2004-2006. We’ll let Arlene take it from here! 

Arlene Cronk, founder of Invitations and Company

I started the business right after returning from a Caribbean cruise in December 1991. At breakfast and dinner we had been seated with another couple and the wife, Amy, ran an invitations business from her home in the Cleveland area. She and I would take walks along the deck most mornings and during those walks she would describe her business, and I knew immediately this was something I wanted to do. So, the next day after coming home I set up an office at the end of our living room in our Boston apartment and that’s how Invitations & Company began.

The space is different from most invitation businesses. It’s not a store and it is no longer based in a home. It is a separate studio unit in a downtown building that looks a lot like someone’s living room, with a small office at one end. We have comfortable couches and chairs and also a large table where we meet with customers and spread out albums of invitations. Along the walls we have shelves and shelves of albums and invitations on display.

An inside look at the Invitations & Company studio in Boston, Massachusetts

So the space is very homey but also very professional. It is very convenient for customers who live or work downtown. We also draw a lot of customers from nearby suburbs who are looking for a huge selection, lots of personal service, and a very personalized shopping experience overall.

An inside look at the Invitations & Company studio in Boston, Massachusetts

What I love most about my job is that it feels so right for me – I like to say that ‘I’m completely self-actualized’ doing this. I was an art history major in college and later earned a masters in social work — and this business combines the art and creative aspects with the social part. Most of my customers are engaged couples and planning a wedding can be very stressful, so the fact that I used to be a licensed social worker helps a lot. In fact, for six years I ran a program called the Bridal Survival Club.

An inside look at the Invitations & Company studio in Boston, Massachusetts

The most challenging part of my job is that I have to be “on” all the time. I am always dealing with invitation issues and talking with customers and invitation vendors, even when on vacations. There is a lot of pressure because my customers expect impeccable products and services, and rightfully so.

5 favorite things in your shop? 

  1. My bulletin boards with photos of brides, and brides with their mothers and grooms, when they see their invitations for the first time.
  2. My photo of Randy Fenoli (“Say Yes to the Dress”) and me.
  3. My office carpet (I scoured every store in Boston and New York until I finally found something I love!).
  4. My large worktable with lots and lots of space to spread things out.
  5. I am really proud of the many great online customer reviews I’ve received over the years.

An inside look at the Invitations & Company studio in Boston, Massachusetts

If someone is visiting your shop, what are the other essential stops in your neighborhood? Anything on Charles Street in Beacon Hill — boutique apparel shops, gift and gourmet food shops, cosmetic boutiques, restaurants — they’re all great!

Does your store support any charities or special causes? Friends of the Public Garden, The Yellowstone Association, and Angell Memorial Hospital (a veterinary hospital). 

Current favorite design trend?I love vintage floral patterns and metallics.

An inside look at the Invitations & Company studio in Boston, Massachusetts

Many thanks to Arlene for giving us a peek inside her cozy space! 

Smock Store Spotlight: Ipanema Press

Today we’re shining the spotlight on Ipanema Press, a charming stationery boutique in the historic town of Cold Spring Harbor, New York. Ipanema Press specializes in custom wedding invitations and social stationery, and today we’re giving a peek inside their charming studio. We’ll let Adrienne, the owner of Ipanema Press, take it from here! 

Smock store spotlight on Ipanema Press Smock store spotlight on Ipanema Press

My name is Adrienne Kierans, the girl from Ipanema Press! Everyone always asks me about the name of my company. Am I Brazillian? Far from it, my father is from Ireland and mother from Brooklyn. And I’m not tall or tan (but have been called young and lovely depending on who you ask!)

The name comes from that famous bossa nova song. The word “bossa” is an old-fashioned slang for something that is done with particular charm, natural flair or innate ability. This is the essence of who we are so the name was a perfect fit.

Adrienne Keirans of Ipanema Press

I was a fine stationer in New York City for 6 years before starting my own company. I chose the historic town of Cold Spring Harbor to launch Ipanema Press in 2013 (the same year my first son was born). Our building dates back to the late 1800’s and was originally the home of a whaling captain. The original wood floors are still here – and are my favorite feature in the studio.

Smock store spotlight on Ipanema Press

I genuinely love helping new couples create custom art for their wedding. Our clients often tell us that their experience with us was one of their favorites in the planning process and that brings me great joy. We collaborate with the country’s most talented artists, calligraphers, and printers. We truly love what we do! A challenge is that we can only take 3 appointments per day in order for us to give each project and client the attention it deserves. This gets especially hard during the busy months of spring.

Smock store spotlight on Ipanema PressSmock store spotlight on Ipanema PressSmock store spotlight on Ipanema Press

Current favorite design trend? The mixing of print methods – particularly foil + letterpress + watercolor accents. It adds great textural interest and it just so unusual. Hoping to play with more print combinations in 2017.

If someone is visiting your shop, what are the other essential stops in your neighborhood?
AvaFlora – Lori creates the most gorgeous garden-esque floral arrangements and specializes in weddings.
Harbor Bridal – Leigh and Tori have a beautiful boutique of wedding gowns right in the heart of town.
Sandbar – the perfect spot for lunch on the harbor.
Sweetie Pies – they have the best ice coffee (the ice cubes are even made out of coffee, we are addicted!).

Smock wedding invitations available at Ipanema Press

Many thanks to Adrienne for giving us this peek inside her studio! Be sure to follow Ipanema Press on Instagram for even more inspiration from this sweet stationery boutique. 

All photos by Cadence Kennedy

Smock Store Spotlight: Marissa Allie Designs

Today we’re sharing a peek inside Marissa Allie Designs, a custom stationery studio based in New York City. Her sweet space is bright and cheery, with pops of pink and lots of artwork. Take a look inside!

Smock retailer Marissa Allie Designs

How she got started: When I began college, I started out studying graphic design at the School of Visual Arts. I learned the importance of typography, and grew to love the many ways a font can express the written word. Throughout my schooling, I explored various outlets such as visual presentation, fine arts & fashion merchandising.

All of those years of experience led to what I believe is my passion. I finally figured out that I could do something that let me continuously explore my creativity while guiding people to discover their wedding paper dreams…it was a no brainer! Friends and family began to ask me to help them with all sorts of paper items and eventually Marissa Allie Designs was up and running!

Smock retailer Marissa Allie Designs

Highlights and challenges: I love the look on clients face when they get to see the final invitation suite. It’s an accomplishment that we worked together to achieve, but it also means that their wedding day is becoming more and more of a reality!

The most challenging part is fitting within a clients budget while ensuring them that it is all worth it. Even though budgets can be a tricky task sometimes, I love taking on the challenge to make it work for the client without disappointments. I take pride in spending the time to make adjustments to an invitation suite without compromising the overall aesthetic the client is going for. This way we are all happy and always pleasantly surprised!

Smock retailer Marissa Allie Designs

5 prized possessions:

  1. A Jade bracelet that my husband bought for me on our honeymoon when we made a stop in Hong Kong. I wear it everyday, and it symbolizes protection.
  2. An oversized gold flower ring which was my Nana, Emma’s.  When she passed, each grandchild was given something of hers, and I always admired this ring.
  3. Another ring! This one from my other grandma Nanny, Lillian.  A pinky ring which is gold with rubies.  Since my hand is much smaller, it fits on my ring finger just right, it is a gem!
  4. My dogs memory box that I created, to store all of his things from when we first picked him up from the airport. He is a 2 year old Goldendoodle named Hudson Hoosier, and he is my furry little baby.
  5. Old photographs of my family from when my sister, brother and I were kids. We were so happy and our parents gave us so much love and support. Every now and then I glance at them and smile, because it reminds me how lucky I am to have an older sister who taught me the ropes and a younger brother to take care of!

Smock retailer Marissa Allie Designs

Essential stops in your neighborhood:  My shop is located in the heart of NYC, and as I tell my family & friends…I thrive off of this city.  There are endless amounts of places to explore.  I love taking walks over to Madison Square Park and making a pit stop at Eataly, before I head over to the Union Square Green Market.  In between, I hit up the local art & paper supply store Paper Presentation, as well as many of my fave stores on 5th Avenue!  From the time I leave my studio and get to Union Square I have had my share of sight seeing and entertainment for the day!

Many thanks to Marissa for giving us a peek inside her studio!

Smock Store Spotlight – Papery & Cakery in Boca Raton, Florida

Niki Kantor Rubin, proprietress of Papery & Cakery in Boca Raton, Florida brings a unique background to her unique business, a stationery and patisserie boutique. With an educational background in history and a law degree from George Washington University, Niki began her career clerking for a criminal judge. From the beginning, her law practice failed to be completely satisfying and she had never shaken her lifelong passion for design, art and creating. Then a few years ago she starting planning her wedding to her “camp sweetheart” – they met while both working as counselors at a summer camp nearly a decade ago – and realized how much she loved planning all of the stationery and paper details that they incorporated in their celebration. Along the way, she met the owner of the stationery store that is now Papery & Cakery – one thing led to another and when Niki was offered the opportunity to buy the store she did so. And she never looked back.

Smock Store Spotlight - Papery & Cakery

These days, Niki loves working with clients to create the stationery of their dreams. Unlike her days in law practice, she’s now inspired by what she does and feels lucky to help people celebrate the special occasions in their lives. Niki shares, “I’m inspired by everything around me. Florida weather is truly amazing. We live near the ocean and walk our golden retriever [and Papery & Cakery mascot], Ray, to the beach almost daily.  I try to carry environmentally friendly vendors, like Smock for all of my clients. I’m a magazine junkie, and get butterflies when Martha Stewart arrives in the mail. There is so much to see on the web, I try to keep up with the blogging world, and keep my blog contemporary and chic.”

Smock Store Spotlight - Papery & Cakery

We’ve mentioned it before, but in addition to all things paper and letterpress, here at Smock we have a pretty deeply rooted love for yummy treats, too. The Papery & Cakery blog is one of our favorite reads because it celebrates two of our favorite things – stationery and delicious sweets. Each week, Niki’s sister Ali, who was a pastry student when Niki launched Papery & Cakery and is now a freelance baker in New York City, shares her inspired recipes in her Cakery Friday feature. Last week, she showcased her recipe for festive pumpkin spice marshmallows, which Ali and Niki were sweet enough to share here on the Smock blog…

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Smock Store Spotlight – Gus & Ruby Letterpress in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Two creative women after our own hearts, owners Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield, were inspired by their shared love of letterpress, stationery and great design when establishing Gus & Ruby Letterpress in a quaint storefront in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Having met when working at the same advertising agency, the two bonded over mutual affection for their dogs before realizing they had so much more than that in common. Newly opened, their shop is not only named after their lovable dogs Gus and Ruby, but also a true reflection of Samantha and Whitney’s mutual passion for all things letterpress.

Smock Store Spotlight - Gus & Ruby Letterpress

Back before Gus & Ruby was born, Samantha and Whitney used to talk about their love for letterpress while walking their dogs. With a family history in printing that now dates back three generations, Whitney was able to get her hands on an old press. She and Samantha took a couple of classes and started letterpress printing cards, invitations and announcements they would design for friends and family. While launching their own stationery line was something their loved ones encouraged them to do, Samantha and Whitney are self-described paper hounds and wanted a way to share their love for some of their favorite letterpress lines. The result? A beautiful boutique on Market Street in Portsmouth where they sell beautiful cards, gift wrap and wedding invitations from a carefully curated selection of artisans.

Smock Store Spotlight - Gus & Ruby Letterpress

Recognizing that no one in their area was offering design-forward artisan-crafted stationery to the local market, Whitney and Samantha set about carefully selecting only their very favorite paper vendors and stationery lines to carry in their shop. Every item in the store was lovingly hand-picked and is something they personally love and want to share with their customers. Great design and fine craftsmanship is at the heart of what Gus & Ruby stands for and the process of choosing product was a very involved one that Samantha and Whitney loved. While they continue to do custom design and printing on a very select basis, their true love comes from sharing their favorite stationery vendors with the local community.

Smock Store Spotlight - Gus & Ruby Letterpress

The selection of exquisite stationery is not the only aspect of opening shop that had Whitney and Samantha working hard. Even the physical design and layout of the store carries their thumbprint. All of the furniture was custom built to fit the design aesthetic they were aiming for and the two women readily rolled up their shirtsleeves and tackled all of the spackling and painting on their own. After a year of intense research, business plan writing, dreaming, and crossing fingers, the shop is finally open and all of that hard work is paying off as their shared dream becomes a reality.

In true Smock fashion, we had to know a little bit more about Portsmouth and Whitney and Samantha’s picks for the top things to see and do while visiting their beautiful little town. Their recommendation? Stop by Flatbread Company for lunch followed by an afternoon shopping along Deer Street and ice cream at Annabelle’s. For the ladies, a stop at Making Faces, a lovely cosmetics boutique can’t be missed and taking time to visit Prescott Park promises to be a highlight of any trip to Portsmouth. (Aside from your visit to Gus & Ruby, that is.)

Smock Store Spotlight - Gus & Ruby Letterpress

While Whitney continues honing her expertise as a designer and letterpress printer, Samantha has taken to the forefront in helping to tackle the business and marketing side of keeping the Gus & Ruby operation moving forward. She was more than happy to share a bit more with us…

If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world, where would it be? What would you do? Who would go with you?
I’d go back to the Okavongo Delta in Botswana and I’d go with my children (this would need to happen in the future…when I have kids someday!) I had the great great fortune of going to Botswana on safari with my mother after I graduated from college. Standing smack dab in the middle of the African wilderness – I have never felt more a part of the world community, more connected to those around me than I did in the delta. I observed herds of elephants grazing, listened to the lazy evening calls of hippos, watched a pair of cheetahs hunt and kill an impala – it was a pretty incredible experience and made me remember what a small, perfect world we live in. Hugely humbling and inspiring – the idea that I could ever share something as amazing as what my mother shared with me makes me weak in the knees with hope and gratitude.

What are you top 5 prized possessions?
This is too hard a question! But, here goes…
1. The photo albums my mother created for me and my brother of our various family vacations. Looking at them never fails to remind me of how much we laugh together.
2. A collection of notes my father has written me over the course of my life. He used to travel a lot for work when I was young and every single trip he went on, he would leave a little hand-written note under my pillow before he left that I would then find while he was gone. They aren’t fancy – mostly just little “sweet dreams” notes written on scrap paper – but they mean the world to me.
3. My grandmother’s ring. It’s as sparkly, unique, and treasured as she was.
4. My saddle – there is nothing like the smell of worn leather or the feel of galloping around on a pony. Riding horses reminds me that no one is really better than anyone else when you’re up to your ankles in manure while cleaning stalls.
5. My cupcake pans. I love love love to bake!

If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be and why?
I’d be the Haddington invitation with Spencerian style calligraphy complete with verbena edge painting and a  rousseau lined envelope in verbena. It’s bright, cheery, and classic. The calligraphy adds a personal, loving touch – but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I couldn’t be black tie. Could I be “comfy shoes recommended”?

Thank you, Samantha and Whitney, for allowing us to take a sneak peek into the inspiration behind Gus & Ruby – congratulations on your beautiful new store!

{All photos by Emilie Inc. Photography}

Smock Store Spotlight – Cotton Idea Studio in Newport Beach, California

Though it may seem crazy to some who live in warmer climates, we’re already starting to notice the very first hints of fall in the air here in Upstate New York. So even though it may only be late August, we’re preparing ourselves for the vast amount of snow we know is to come in the months ahead. What’s our plan to combat the cold weather blues? When it’s cold and snowy this winter, we’re thinking we might jet off to Newport Beach, California to hang out at one of our favorite Smock stores – Cotton Idea Studio.

Born from proprietress Mindy Gayer’s lifelong love for paper and stationery, Cotton Idea Studio is a boutique design studio carrying a beautiful array of delightful social correspondence, invitations and accoutrements. Mindy has been in love with paper for as long as she can remember, spending all of her childhood babysitting earnings at the local stationery shop. She loved hosting festive little holiday parties for her neighborhood friends, complete with invitations, balloons and fun goodie bags. A career in a creative profession was basically a given for Mindy, although it did take her a while to combine her love of design with business. Cotton Idea Studio is a reflection of her love for paper, letterpress and quality design and as Mindy shares, “I know everyone says this, but it truly is a gift to do what you love — it keeps me inspired, passionate and motivated. And I get to work with the most charming people everyday.”

Smock Store Spotlight - Cotton Idea Studio

Quite simply, Mindy truly considers her lovely boutique as an extension of herself, evolving as she recognized a void in the market for specialized retailers. With that in mind, she wanted to create a unique boutique, believing it truly needed to be personal and special — a direct reflection of her and her personal style — if customers were really going to get it. Believing a customer should be just as in love with a store as with the merchandise they carry, Cotton Idea Studio is as much about merchandising as it is about the delightful products they offer. Mindy was passionate about not wanting her shop to become just another store and one of her favorite things is when a customer spends a considerable amount of time simply walking around, oohing and ahhing over all of the thoughtful details. “Their appreciation for the design and craftsmanship of our products, paired with their overall store experience, is what inspires me to continue making the store fresh and overflowing with creative merchandising.”

We think this careful and considered approach to everything she does with Cotton Idea Studio is what makes Mindy’s business so inspired and so fabulous. “I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings, and see design in the small, everyday places. I have such an affinity for well-developed retail spaces, and I love to see how people design and build their workspaces; whether it’s local coffee shops, eateries, retail shoppes, or general office spaces — there’s always room for clever build outs, vivid branding efforts, classic signage typography, and more.” Needless to say, we are really, truly in love. We find nothing more inspiring than creative people who find exciting ways to celebrate the small details in life.

Smock Store Spotlight - Cotton Idea Studio
{Mindy at the entrance to Cotton Idea Studio | The patio of her favorite neighborhood coffee shop.}

And in true Smock fashion, we had to know a little bit more about what makes Mindy and Cotton Idea Studio tick…

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken and why?
I’m not sure if one can consider a college semester abroad a vacation, per se, but it was definitely a wonderful time away from home. I spent a fall semester studying in Cambridge, England, and was able to embrace a natural season of self-exploration, which was amazing. I’m a fairly independent person, and being abroad gave me the space and time I needed to be reflective, experience culture and people, and dream about my future. I don’t think it matters where I am or how far I travel from home, even a 30-minute drive to a nearby town can set my mind brewing with new ideas.

If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be?
Letterpress anything captures my heart. I adore the Aberdeen collection with champlain backing and lining, in dove and verbena hues. Perhaps finished with edge painting…I love the subtle detail of edge painting.

What’s your favorite part about what you do for a living?
There are so many highlights to this creative profession: Being surrounded by design on a daily basis. Discovering new designers and developing relationships with our vendors – our vendors truly make running this business a joy. Helping to preserve the charm of handwritten correspondence. Being able to bring the best products, by the most talented designers, all together under one roof. Having happy customers; producing quality, custom letterpress goods for our clients is one of the best things about this business, because they walk away happy with a completely unique and exquisite product in hand. And, letterpress – it’s absolutely beautiful! As a shoppe owner, I love supporting designers who commit their professional lives to producing such wonderful products by hand.

Smock Store Spotlight - Cotton Idea Studio
{The front window display at Cotton Idea Studio | One of Mindy’s favorite local shops, Trovata.}

What would you suggest as “must see” destinations for first time visitors to Southern California?
I love my hometown, and could write a mini-guide on all of my favorite spots! A few must-sees in Orange County include:

  • Cannery Village: this is where our shoppe is located. It’s a charming, hidden neighborhood that locals adore. We have an amazing fish market next door, Bear Flag Fish Co, which is a must for lunch! Alta Coffee, D. Kruse, The Cannery and The Dock are also great finds.
  • Corona del Mar: a darling community with cute boutiques and eateries. My all-time favorite is Zinc Café.
  • Newport Beach/Costa Mesa: so many great finds in both of these towns, including A Market, Eat Chow, Haute Cakes, Goat, The Camp and Milk + Honey.
  • Balboa Island: perfect for any out-of-towner! It’s the quintessential seaside town, complete with mom-and-pop dining establishments, independent boutiques, a ferry, fun zone and surf shops…even a darling little fire station (kids adore it here!)

Smock Store Spotlight - Cotton Idea Studio

Where are your favorite places to shop?
Some of my favorite retailers include Anthropologie, Hable Construction, Orla Kiely, Toast, JCrew, DWR, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, ABC, along with local shops like Molly Wood Garden Design, Laguna Supply and Juxtaposition.

Can you describe the sweetest or most memorable card or stationery you’ve received or would love to receive?
The letter that first comes to mind was written by a lovely online customer just last month. It came on a morning that succeeded a heavy week, both personally and professionally, and proved to be a ray of sunshine. It’s amazing how a few heartfelt, encouraging words from a person I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting can change my state in an instant. Admittedly, I all too often underestimate the importance of sending frequent love notes to friends and family. We all need encouragement to continue being who we are, and pursuing the things that are worthy of our pursuit.

We could not agree more. Smock is all about the belief that fine stationery and the thoughtfulness of a hand-written note can go so far to brighten someone’s day.

Mindy, thank you so very very much for letting us take a sneak peek into the inspiration behind Cotton Idea Studio – we are completely inspired and getting ready to pack our bags for a visit come winter!

Smock Store Spotlight – ecoEmporium in Atlanta

At Smock we love getting to work with incredible shops around the country and across the globe and ecoEMPORIUM in Atlanta is just one of those shops we wish we could hang out in all day long. Owned and operated by Carol Held, ecoEMPORIUM is Atlanta’s premiere destination for all things eco, including Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations, and is dedicated to introducing “customers to earth-friendly products with style, regardless of your shade of green.” We love it!

Carol grew up in South Florida where she inherited a love for gardening, landscaping and nature from her father. As a child she remembers being cautioned by her grandfather to always turn off the faucet while brushing her teeth, because someday the world would run out of safe drinking water. It seems even in the 1950s, Carol’s family was aware of greater environmental issues. According to Carol, “I always had a feeling that my purpose in life was to help people in some way but never knew what it was and as I’ve grown older it was getting to the point that I was afraid I would never know.

Eco Emporium - Smock letterpress wedding dealer - Atlanta, Georgia

About three years ago, Carol’s husband lost his job of 23 years and set up a new home office so he could work as a consultant, about which time Carol began experiencing health issues.  After visiting several health professionals and turning to home inspection professionals, she was able to track her health problems back to the formaldehyde in her husbands new office furniture and the resulting off gassing.  For her, it was a realization that proved life changing.  As she delved into researching various toxins and their existence in numerous household products, Carol grew increasingly concerned, especially having just found out she was about to be a grandmother for the first time. Understanding that such toxins and chemicals can wreak havoc on the body and pose threats to the nervous system and even cause disease, Carol knew she had finally found her way of helping people. Many months of research went into selecting the products and companies Carol represents at ecoEMPORIUM, where she is not only shop owner, but also educator and friend.

Carol encourages friends, family and customers alike to find small ways to make a difference. Whether it be using shower timers, glass straws, opting to use filtered stainless steel water bottles instead of plastic, considering bio-degradable diapers, or even something as simple as the advice of her grandfather to turn off the water when brushing your teeth, she recognizes that everyone is capable of making a difference with simple everyday changes in their habits.

Eco Emporium - Smock letterpress wedding invitation dealer - Atlanta

Carol makes educating the public a priority and often hosts great workshops on such topics as designing and setting up organic baby nurseries. Her latest endeavor is the creation of an eco wedding department, where she happily features Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations. We are thrilled to be among the other great products offered at ecoEMPORIUM!

As usual we just had to know more…

If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be and why? My favorite would have to be Nevis. I’m wild about ivory and black and love the Tennyson & Hawthorne fonts With rounded corners and edge painting in blush ink, it makes it so sophisticated.  If I could get married all over again my wedding would be entirely ivory and black.  The quality of Smock is in a category all it’s own…everyone just loves the beauty and quality.

What’s your top pick destination for first time travelers to Atlanta?
Atlanta has so many wonderful things to do…but I’d have to say my favorite events are the Steeplechase, the Dogwood Festival, and the Atlanta Symphony’s Decorators Show House.  All take place in April and May during our beautiful Atlanta springtime. My top destination for a first time traveler to Atlanta would be The Aquarium, The World of Coke and the High Museum of Art. Families will love Stone Mountain Park.

Where are your favorite places to shop?
My favorite places to shop in Atlanta are the shops in the Midtown West area of Atlanta.  That’s where ecoEMPORIUM  is located. It’s an old area of Atlanta that is being rebuilt using the bricks and steel of the previous buildings.  It’s urban and chic with wonderful independent stores. Verde Home, Emily Amy Art Gallery, Ken Barber for men’s clothing and Toscano & Sons Italian Market are a few of my favorites.  Of course, for the mall shoppers..nothing beats Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza.

Thank you so much, Carol, for allowing us this amazing sneak peek into the inspiration behind ecoEMPORIUM! Also, we are thrilled to let you know that Carol is going to be sharing some great tips and insight into how you can introduce a little green into your life in the coming weeks so make sure to stop back!

Smock Store Spotlight – Six Chancery Lane, Hong Kong

Today we’re really excited to introduce one of the fabulous new stores Smock is working with in Hong Kong in our new Smock Store Spotlight feature. Julie Sung is the proprietor of Six Chancery Lane, the exclusive location of Smock’s letterpress wedding invitations in Hong Kong, and she happily shared some incredible insight and a look into her fabulous shop. Six Chancery Lane is a unique shop devoted to Julie’s handmade soaps and her love for letterpress, a combination we find especially fun.

Julie grew up in Taiwan, but spent many years in the U.S. when she was younger, having just recently moved to Hong Kong about five years ago. Her background includes experience in the media industry, in both television and movies, but her passion has always been design and creating things that are handmade. Julie shares, “I think I have found my calling with Six Chancery Lane – wonderful, thoughtful, handmade products and great designs just make me happy. I get so much satisfaction out of creating beautiful stationery for my clients or seeing them appreciate a beautifully packaged bar of our handmade soap.”

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

We were so intrigued by the concept of Six Chancery Lane as a soap and letterpress boutique that we just had to know more about Julie’s inspiration behind her lovely store…

Six Chancery Lane really is a reflection of who I am and what I love, bringing together my two passions – handmade soaps and letterpress – and combining it with a desire to share products that are unique, handcrafted, not mass-produced, environmentally-friendly, and beautiful, with people who care about the same things. Originally, I started making soaps myself when I couldn’t find anything suitable for my sensitive skin in retail stores. I immediately fell in love with the craft of soapmaking, ultimately spending countless hours in my kitchen researching, testing new recipes and improving upon existing ones, until I finally had to find more space! Our soaps are all made in-house at Six Chancery Lane from the very best ingredients and then individually wrapped in beautiful paper I have personally sourced from around the world. I fell in love with letterpress when I was planning my own wedding and discovered, to my dismay, that I could not find letterpress in Hong Kong. I decided to learn all I could about letterpress, through research and taking classes in the U.S. Through Six Chancery Lane, I have finally have a venue to bring beautiful letterpress cards and stationery to discerning brides and customers in Hong Kong.

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

And we just had to know…
If you could describe your personality in letterpress, which Smock invitation would you be and why?
I would have to choose “Haddington” in black and raspberry ink with a raspberry Champlain liner. It is simple, clean, and subtle; classic yet contemporary at the same time. The splash of bright color on a black and white background stands out without trying too hard.

What are some fun traditions typical of Hong Kong weddings that you enjoy?
An interesting tradition for Hong Kong weddings is something known as “Door Games”. On the day of the wedding, the groom accompanied by his groomsmen, must go pick up the bride at her home. But before he can get in the door to see his bride for the first time, he must pass a series of test and tasks presented to them by the bridesmaids who are guarding the door. The “games” include quizzing the groom on facts about his future wife and other physical and embarrassing deeds. The bridesmaids can be pretty creative with what they demand the guys to do. It’s always a lot of fun and laughs. Of course, I enjoy this tradition, because I’m on the serving end and not the receiving!

Six Chancery Lane - Smock's Hong Kong letterpress dealer

What’s your top pick destination for first time travelers to Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is such a dynamic city. It really is a blend of East and West. There is so much to do, but if you could only do one thing, I would recommend taking in the breathtaking view of the city on Victoria Peak. Hong Kong has some of the best architecture in the world, and when the city is lit up at night, there really isn’t anything else in the world that really compares.

Where are your favorite places to shop?
I love to browse small, distinctive, local shops in SoHo, Hong Kong. There are a lot of great boutiques selling everything from trendy clothes to antique jewelry. I also love night markets in Taipei. You can find all sorts of wonderful things for amazingly low prices.  Not to mention there is a lot of delicious street food for you to sample. Oh, and I can spend hours on Etsy.

Why did you feel compelled to bring Smock’s signature bamboo letterpress to the people of Hong Kong?
Well, first of all, the designs are amazing. So clean and classy, yet very modern. Also, I love the fact that Smock is so eco-friendly. A lot of times people think things that are environmental means you have to sacrifice on quality or looks, but Smock proves that that’s not the case. And basically because letterpress from Smock is about the most beautiful I’ve seen and I just want to share that with people in Hong Kong.

Thank you so much, Julie, for sharing a glimpse into what Six Chancery Lane is all about! We love knowing more about the great places where Smock is featured and hope you’ll make Six Chancery Lane one of your stops if you’re ever in Hong Kong. This is just the first of several Smock Store Spotlight features to come and we can’t wait to share more of the great shops where you can find Smock across the globe!