[Chandra Greer] Exhibiting at the National Stationery Show is tough stuff. Preparing the work you’ll hopefully sell and the materials to sell it with. Designing, constructing, shipping, reassembling your booth. Talking, smiling, standing through 3½ long days. Yet every time we attend the National Stationery Show, we get a little hitch in the throat observing the cadre of spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, enthusiastically touting their love’s talents to anyone who’ll listen while doing some heavy mental and physical lifting behind the scenes.
And we’ve seen many an exhausted designer succeed, despite the challenges, because someone they love and trust is there to help.
So for those who believe a good man or woman is impossible to find, read on. These stationers and the significant others who support them are proof the opposite is true.
Alee & Press
Amanda, tell us why Peter’s a keeper?
Peter’s help started months before the show. It began on one trip to Atlanta, where I live, when he financed a new letterpress and hydraulic cutter for the business. He’s an aeronautical engineer and became obsessed with the new press, especially since it was German-engineered, and began learning everything he could about it. He started helping me with bookkeeping, business planning, marketing and became a good source for feedback on new designs. He built a massive Excel spreadsheet for our pricing model that is incredible and also helped streamline some of our business processes.
To help me with the show, Peter took a 16-day “vacation,” flying in from Germany to Atlanta. He assisted in many mental breakdowns, printed, built our show sign — his first craft project — cleaned and organized the studio, cooked, did laundry, ran errands. Everything. Peter constructed our booth in Atlanta, then drove 15 hours to New York to set it up and help sell at the show.
Peter’s favorite line over the last few months was, “I can build airplanes, this is easy.” He was my rock during a very busy and stressful six months, and I couldn’t have pulled this off without him or the support from those I work and collaborate with. The only thing he asked for in return was his own Alee & Press business cards. Done.
Peter, you devoted a well-deserved vacation to helping Amanda. Tell us why.
I wanted to help Amanda with the show because she had been talking about it constantly over the past year. She got me interested in the industry, and I became curious how it worked. What better way to learn about something new than to do it yourself? Amanda is so passionate about what she does, it was really easy for her to get me excited as well and to convince me to help her — even though this might not have been her primary intention. I am always interested in doing unorthodox things, and it was appealing and thrilling to partake in something that none of my friends back home have ever done. When someone asks what you are doing over holiday, how many people say they’re going to the National Stationery Show in New York? It was a great conversation starter.
It is a great feeling if you can be there for the person you deeply care about when they need your help. I saw areas in Amanda’s business that she struggled with, tasks that came really easy for me. I let her focus on what she does best — design, printing and dealing with clients — while I handled some of the other tasks that took up a lot of her time and were more tedious for her to conquer with the limited time she had to pull off the show. During the final preparation, Amanda created two new custom albums and a 75-SKU wholesale line … on top of printing orders, all during the height of the wedding season. She needed help. Also the success of Amanda’s business plays a role in how often we can see each other and our future together.
Pei, tell us how Justin helped you pull off a successful show.
During the two months prior to the show Justin was so busy at his work but managed to find time during the weekends to help me figure out how to build the display ledges for the booth. We made countless trips to Home Depot to look for the right materials, paint, lighting, etc. I also really wanted to use floating shelves, which weigh about 8 pounds each, but I wasn’t sure how they were going to stay attached to a ½-inch-thick foam core wall. Justin used his genius to make it work. That was a huge relief.
Aside from the muscles — that are great to have — Justin is a super-organized person and a great copywriter, too! He helped me create an Excel spreadsheet that organized all my store contacts and helped with the copy and proofreading for my marketing materials, which is not my forté. I think this is really a team effort. I don’t know what I would have done without all his help. I am very grateful that he was there for me.
Justin, what motivated you to give Pei so much help when you have a full-time job yourself?
It was tough because the show happens to coincide with a very, very busy time at my job,. But I knew she needed the help and support. I thought the show would be good for me to experience as well, so I could learn more — which I did. I didn’t realize exactly how much she needed me until it was over, and I can’t imagine how anyone does it alone. The work to set up and then take down the booth was in itself a huge task. In the end though it was a really good experience, and one I’m glad I was able to help with. Pei worked so hard to get it together and I was happy to see it come to fruition and that was pretty exciting to be part of. Plus, I love her … so that influenced my decision as well.
Garett, how did you rely on your Jessica for the show?
We did everything together in preparation. One day back in September, Jessica sprung it on me she had spontaneously signed us up for it. This is something I would have never done on my own! I’m very calculated, so Jessica’s approach of running in 10 different directions at a hundred miles an hour keeps me on my toes. Her drive and passion have really been the force behind moving our company to the next level. She encourages me, holds me accountable, and keeps me laughing, all of which have been instrumental in our success.
Jessica, why do you believe in Garett so?
Garett is one of the most talented and humble people I know. It amazes me that his style is this great little tango between the masculine and the feminine. He’s a farm boy and yet he designs gorgeous wedding stationery. He’s just so dynamic and wears so many hats well. Even in the middle of consuming show prep he still did a great job of balancing being an amazing husband, future dad, business partner and friend. He pours so much of himself into our designs and works so hard for the sake of our family. I’m in awe of how hard he pushes himself to grow as a designer, and it’s almost impossible to see that kind of effort and not respond. His drive and sincerity really spur me on to work harder to serve our business better.
You can find Alee & Press soon at www.aleeandpress.com. Look for Pei Design at www.pei-design.com and Wednesday at www.wednesdaycustomdesign.com, also later this summer. Sign up for their respective mailing lists to be alerted when their online stores are open.
Felt & Wire gives a special thanks to the wonderful Chandra Greer for her unique perspective on the 2012 National Stationery Show. For more, go aisle-hopping and window-shopping with Alyson Kuhn.
On the wire is a series of monthly conversations with up-and-coming stationery designers who, while tiny in size, are titanic in talent. Our interviews are hosted by Chandra, the owner of Greer (@GREERChicago), an independent stationery shop and website with a longstanding commitment to seeking out and supporting independent designers.