We are so happy to be working with www.ForYourParty.com ... we've designed coasters, napkins, stir sticks, goodie bags, match boxes, etc. for FYP to go with many of our letterpress wedding invitations. Shown here: our favorite MIMOSA design in our favorite chic color combo: mimosa yellow and grey.
Titus Maximus Vegetarius is a ham. Impossible to keep him out of our photo shoots. The save the date shown is the new "Savannah" design, part of our Charleston Collection, which will hit a very few select stores this Fall.
A few weeks ago I hopped up to the Montage Resort in Laguna Beach, California to have lunch with a friend. We were both blown away by this amazing dessert: beignets and a marshmallow mud pie made with homemade marshmallow, chicory ice cream, and chocolate. The little round cup was full of warm chocolate sauce. Yum.
I designed this rehearsal invitation a few months ago, when I was feeling quite homesick for Charleston, South Carolina. The warm grey and spring yellow inks are the same color as the beach sand and the marsh sweetgrass where I grew up on the Isle of Palms. The restaurant on the invite, High Cotton, is known for its superb Lowcountry cuisine. Each time I visit I fall in love with this city all over again and wonder why in the world I ever left.
When I saw a Sweet Tea Mojito on the menu at Cypress the other night I just had to try it. I was skeptical, and had already chosen a "backup" drink ... but it was AMAZING. So amazing that I went to a liquor store today and bought a bottle of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka to take home to Cali.
While strolling around the antique district on Southern King Street in Charleston, South Carolina this morning, I came upon this cool vintage table at South Of Market. If I still lived in Charleston I'm sure I could do some serious damage at this store.
Sence Rose Nectar. How gorgeous is this product? I love the idea of rose flavored cocktails: a little rosy mojito, perhaps? Or a rose & lavender lemonade for a kids party? Beautiful, romantic, delicious. The little bottles are only $4 and would make pretty party favors. I grew up loving the rose scented candies from France that my Tatie (auntie) Marie sent me in care packages, so this flavor is not a stretch for me.
The delphine studio has a cabinet full of props for photo shoots ... one of my favorite things to use are these beautiful foreign stamps. I bought a selection of floral and sealife stamps at a flea market many years ago, when I was living in Tours, France, not knowing what I would ever do with them. I remember thinking they were tiny works of art.
In preparation for our trip to Atlanta & Charleston I broke down and bought these seersucker pants (on sale! yay!) from Ann Taylor Loft in a loving homage to The South. Found these navy wedge shoes at Old Navy, but am thinking they may not be the best choice for walking a trade show. Perfect for dinners out, though, right??? The matching "Skylight" lapis necklace is from our delphine inventory of fabulous semi-precious jewelry. Might have to "borrow" it ...
When I was a little girl, my Mémé Delphine gave me a set of sweet strawberry note paper. I remember opening and closing the box, counting each sheet, and carefully writing a thank you note to her, but not wanting to use the rest of the note paper. It went into my "museum" of special objects: a green box that went in a special drawer of my desk. Those strawberry note sheets started my love of stationery, and the memory was the inspiration for these strawberry notes that I printed for my bff's five-year-old daughter, Leah.
Many thanks to Victoria at Milkfed Press for sharing her source for vintage stamps: Champion Stamp. Sometimes an invitation is just screaming out for a fun stamp. I think the cactus series would be perfect for an invite I'm working on now... the wedding is at a spa in Arizona; the tropical flower stamps would be nice for a Hawaiian wedding.
I am so happy to announce that our recycled tote bags have arrived. They are now in stock and ready to ship. The 100 percent recycled totes are made from 80 percent recycled cotton and 20 percent recycled soda bottles, and come in three different styles.
I ran out of my favorite perfume, Shanghai Butterfly by Nanette Lepore, a few months ago. I tried Bloomingdales, Sephora, Nordstrom and Macy's ... everyone said it was discontinued. But I just saw some on the Sephora website. Yay!
Being in the creative business can be tough. Friends in the corporate world sometimes mistake our business for a "hobby" and it is a little more difficult, in general, to be taken seriously on the business front. While those of us in creative industries are lucky to be doing what we love, we are also first and foremost small BUSINESS owners and entrepreneurs. Here is the first in a series of interviews with small "creative business" owners.
Describe your store: Our shoppe is located in the quaint, seaside town of Laguna Beach, California, along a portion of Pacific Coast Highway that houses many other independent boutiques and art galleries. We are part of a wonderfully artistic community, and feel privileged to be here! Our store size is about 900 sq. feet (thanks to our recent expansion!) When we first opened in July 2007, we had about 400 sq ft.
We carry a variety of letterpress paper goods, including greeting cards, note sets and various accoutrements (journals, coasters, etc), along with fabulous textile goods, ceramics and a small sampling of artwork. In addition to the pre-packaged items we carry, we specialize in custom letterpress goods, including calling cards, social stationery, soirée and wedding invitations, announcements and holiday cards.
What makes your shop different from others? We focus on carrying the best letterpress goods in the industry, in addition to lovely lifestyle accoutrements. And, because our shoppe is relatively small, it encourages us refine the number of lines we carry and the type of products we offer. It’s also wonderful being the only full-service stationer in town. The response we’ve received from local patrons over the past year has been overwhelming positive. Ultimately, we have been able to bring a new caliber of products to our community, and delight in the opportunity of exposing our clients to an array of extremely talented stationery designers, such as Deluce Design, Egg Press, Mr. Boddington’s Studio, Night Owl Paper Goods, Paper + Cup, Seraph and Snow & Graham, to name a few.
How do you decide what new products to take on? We have lines that we continue to carry and buy from month after month, simply because they fit our aesthetic to a “T”, and because our clients adore their designs. When considering new lines, however, it’s typically pretty easy to decipher which lines will do well in our shoppe, and which won’t. At times, we purchase new products with very specific clients in mind – those who come in several times a month, and want something fresh and new with each and every visit. In the end, it comes down finding lines that have impeccable, unique designs, clever copywriting, flawless craftsmanship and printing, and reasonable price points. We love discovering a new line, purchasing it for the shoppe, and in the end, finding that the designer is equally as lovely to work with, as his/her products are to sell.
How do you find new, unique products? Do you attend trade shows? Which ones? Yes, we attend one trade show yearly – the National Stationery Show in New York. We always discover a handful (or more!) of new designers and products each year at NSS, and love bringing their lines into our shoppe. Outside of trade show discoveries, we find lots of local (and non-local) talent by scouring the web for new designers, reading our favorite blogs on a daily basis, and when we are contacted directly by new companies debuting their lines. All together, it’s a collaboration of many resources that bring our shoppe some of its best products!
Do you work with reps? We work with local reps occasionally, but not on a regular basis. Often times, we find that neighboring stores in surrounding communities start to carry many of the same lines and goods as one other, particularly when they are purchased from sales reps. While reps do carry a wonderful variety of lines, we tend to work directly with our vendors when placing orders.
What do you look for in a vendor? I must say, our industry has the most wonderful group of vendors! I can honestly say that I haven’t had one horrible experience with any of the lines I carry…we just love our vendors!
Overall, we look for vendors that are talented, customer-service oriented, communicative, reliable, and continue to deliver the exceptional products that our clients have come to expect.
Do you like when vendors approach you? We welcome and encourage vendors to approach us, particularly when they have taken the time to research our shoppe and the products that we carry. After doing so, if they feel their products could be a good fit with our clientele and current products offerings, we love to hear from such vendors. Telephone, email and/or mail submissions are ideal, as it allows us the time to review their goods in full and at our convenience, versus unannounced, drop-by visits to the shoppe during business hours.
How do you stay on top of trends? By staying alert to and aware of the design that surrounds me on a daily basis. Trends can be interpreted in so many ways, and found through numerous sources…in the observation of architecture, storefronts, window displays, home décor, clothing design, event and wedding design, magazines spreads, branding efforts, the use of color. It’s truly everywhere, and the best part about it, is that everyone interprets it in his or her own, unique way…so it has the potential to be translated in fresh, new ways each and every time.
What do you think the hot new colors will be for upcoming seasons? I think the citrus hues (lime, orange and yellow) we’re seeing a lot of right now, will continue to show up in stationery designs in the upcoming seasons. I also love seeing gray appear in so many design-driven pieces, from paper and textile goods, to clothing and architecture. It’s fresh, contemporary and clean, and translates incredibly well into so many different products. From the lighter cement shades, to the deep charcoal hues – all in all, I love gray and hope that it’s here to stay.
What trend do you currently love? Hope will last? Hope will go away soon? I think the only trend, or rather “icon,” that I wouldn’t mind seeing exit the market is the ever-popular skull motif. I know it will always have its niche amongst a small following of avid customers, but all in all, I think it’s been done one too many times, and no longer has much impact on new product development.
What’s best part about having a store? Worst? The highlights of being in this industry and owning a shoppe, would have to include: --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 parts about this business, because they always walk away happy, with a completely unique and exquisite product in hand. --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. --Having a client refer a friend to our shoppe – it’s such a wonderful compliment to meet someone that has been referred to us by a client. We’ve met so many wonderful people through our lovely and loyal patrons.
Some difficult aspects of owning a business include: --Creating boundaries and a healthy separation between one’s personal life and professional/work life. --Being able to creatively sustain a small, independent business in the midst of a soft and ever-changing economy. --Staying inspired and continuing to create in the midst of day-to-day tasks that often demand immediate attention or priority (i.e. administrative work, accounting, etc.). --Managing cash flow, while continuing to keep the store fresh with new merchandise. --The occasional, unkind customer (which, undoubtedly, we all encounter).
Can you recommend a business book? I’ve read a handful of great business books, but while I was in the beginning stages of starting Cotton, one of the resources most helpful to me was a website called Nolo. They have page upon page of invaluable information on starting a business, raising capital, ownership structures, human resources, etc. In addition to their website, they also publish a variety of business-related books, all of which can be found here.
How as the economic situation affected your business? We, along with so many other retailers, certainly feel the affects of the current economic slowdown, but fortunately, we still have our core group of clients coming in on a regular basis. We’ve had a great first year in business, and now look at the current economic state as an opportunity to really refine what products we bring in to the shoppe, and refrain from purchasing new products that may sit on the shelves for too long. Custom goods are still our top sellers, even in the midst of a soft economy.
How are you compensating for a slowdown? We’re buying less general boxed merchandise, and pushing more of our custom goods, including personal and business stationery, announcements and invitations.
What was biggest obstacle to opening your store? How did you overcome? Retail space in our community is difficult to come by, particularly when parking is limited and many of the retail buildings are tired and rundown, and require significant tenant improvements. In the end, we compromised by settling for less square footage, and in a quieter end of Laguna Beach. In doing so, it allowed us to occupy a recently renovated building that kept our build-out costs to a minimum, and allowed us to spend a little more on furniture and opening merchandise. Our building also contains quite a bit of parking for customers, which is a rarity in our town…and we even have a lovely view of the ocean from our storefront windows. Ultimately, occupying an unconventional storefront location proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it allows us to maintain the intimacy of a quaint, boutique design studio with limited foot traffic, and in turn, we can focus more of our attention on our customers.
What makes a successful shop? Keeping the merchandise new and fresh, but consistent, so customers know what to expect each time they make a visit to your shop. Another key component to having a successful shop is to hone in on what you want to specialize in, and then stick with it. The best thing we’ve done is limit the number of non-paper items we stock, so our shelves don’t turn into a hodgepodge of mismatched gift items that become overwhelming to the eye and take away from the focus of our business, which is carrying specialty letterpress paper goods.
Do you plan to launch an online store? If yes, when? If no, reason? Our online shoppe (www.cottonideastudio.com) was launched in September 2007, and features many of our favorite in-store products and bestsellers. The majority of our business (80%) comes from our brick & mortar storefront, and the remainder from our online shoppe (20%).
What did you do before store? As a little girl, many of my afternoons were spent frequenting the local party store near my home, where I spent nearly all of my babysitting earnings on stationery and party supplies. I’ve always loved paper, and over the years, developed a love for design and letterpress.
Upon graduating from college in Boston, I moved home to Orange County and worked for a local advertising design firm, while dabbling in stationery design part-time. After 3 years of working both full-time in advertising, and part-time in my paper endeavor, I finally decided to pursue my dream of opening a design studio and paper boutique. Cotton’s doors opened in July 2007, and thus far, it’s been a wonderful year!
What keeps you up at night re: your business? Thinking up new designs, product development, to-do’s for the next day – all the usual stuff that consumes your thoughts when running a business…but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do, and having my thoughts consumed by such things on a daily basis isn’t so much of a stress as it is part of thoroughly enjoying my job. Also, being constantly surrounded by design in expected places keeps my mind constantly brewing with new ideas…whether it translates itself into a new typeface or color combination, invitation design, merchandising idea or store display.
You can visit Mindy's shop, Cotton Idea Studio, in Laguna Beach, California, or shop online here.
The delphine studio is located in Rancho Santa Fe, California, which we locals affectionately call "The Ranch." People often ask us if it is really a ranch ... the short answer is yes. There are horse ranches, orchards and farms all over the county. We here at delphine don't have any horses or livestock, but we do have a small grove of orange trees. The barn sign is near the center of town; the lemon tree above is a neighbor's (the ground is littered with purple jacaranda leaves).
We just uploaded a bunch of new products to our online paperie, including this poppy journal. This journal was inspired by the incredible spring wild flowers that sprung up here in Southern California this year. It is letterpressed using soy-based inks on 100 percent recycled paper.
Loving these modern lanterns from West Elm. I can see them at a chic, modern WHITE + COBALT poolside (cabanas!) affair. Perhaps the bride wears a cotton eyelet gown ... and everyone sips mojitos ... and the band plays sweet samba rhythms ... and the air is warm and the stars are bright ... and waiters serve ice cream sandwiches at midnight.
i love: paper, the written word, all shades of green, the sound of the surf, crepes, café au lait, weddings and the smell of the pressroom.
i'm passionate about: letterpress and good design, no matter the medium.
i'm a business owner, a wife, and, most importantly, a mommy!