S2 Awareness Projects: S2 Stands for Choice

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Today is a big day in the world of women’s rights. The Supreme Court of the United States is hearing oral arguments in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which will determine how far states may go in regulating abortions without violating a woman’s constitutional rights.

As you know from announcements made earlier this year, on this blog, S2 is a liberal heart with strong opinions. I’ll admit when I’m wrong. I’ll always tell you if I change my mind, heart, and/or story.  Now, don’t get me wrong, my beliefs are my beliefs and I don’t believe that those beliefs should be the same as your beliefs, but I do believe that my beliefs shouldn’t be questioned as moral or unmoral. Sure, there are instances where we should raise questions about morality – murder is one of them, but we should also question whether state induced murder is moral as well, or if the killing of civilians during unnecessary war is moral.

The underlining point in most of our morality issues is religion. It is a matter of whether or not you believe that your faith in “God” is more than every other individual. If we removed this notion of your faith being above another, we might have real conversations about real issues. Instead we fight about things that don’t really require the amount of hate, venom and anger they foster.

Oh, for the record, I do believe in A God.  There are women with “morals” that had a belief system that still believe in choice and the ability to determine whether something is right for me or not. That believes in my body as a part of the greater world and understands that my intuition that guides me is as much a blessing as an answer from the spirit that oversees us all.

The reason I believe in choice is because I maintain that it is my body. It is not a body to inflict morality on. It is SOLELY mine. As long as I’m not murdering a child or adult, or whale or deer, etc, or purposely filling the air with methane from a massive leak or allowing tons of oil to spill in our water ways, I don’t see how my decision to abort a fetus is any concern of yours. In fact, because our Country is so hateful toward people who are poor, broken, and downtrodden, I would assume that my decision to abort would be a blessing to those who don’t want the tax burden of taking care of another individual. Clearly I’m wrong. Everyone, especially men, want to be inside my uterus and inflict their morality on it. Enough is enough.

Anyone who thinks that denying women a voice or choice or decision-making abilities and disguise it as “health care for women” is sadly mistaken and wrong. As I keep telling people, just as I don’t judge you for having one or more kids, don’t judge a woman for having an abortion.

Oh and back to that morality point – IF we want to talk about God and morals, lets talk about how it is low-morality to judge another person. Jesus took in Mary Magdalene and she was labeled all kinds of immoral. In my eyes, she is the 13th Apostle that nobody cares to talk about.

I’ve digressed. I’ve ranted. This is my blog after all. But all of this is to say that today, March 2nd is an important day. Our Supreme Court can once again change the course of women’s rights and health with one decision. We will all be effected by their ruling in the coming months.

And so I share several things:

  1. The S2 Awareness Project Planned Parenthood Cards that are available on Etsy. Half of your purchase will be donated to Planned Parenthood to help continue their much needed work.
  2. Today, I donated $50.00 to Planned Parenthood on behalf of customers who purchased card sets and individual cards when they launched in late 2015. If you are inclined, you can donate to Planned Parenthood directly without making a purchase. What matters is that we continue to fight for our rights.
  3. I highly recommend that you read the following overview by The Washington Post of the oral arguments heard by SCOTUS today.
  4. I also highly recommend that you watch this video of John Oliver explaining the state of women’s choice and abortion in the US.

By all means women should have safe access to healthcare, but attacking women, stigmatizing them with guilt and shame, and forcing women to act in a manner that is not for them is not helping anyone, including this debate.

 

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Launching “S2 Awareness Projects” – Stationery for Social Change

When I started S2 Stationery & Design six years ago, I wanted to work with paper and share that love of paper with the World! I wanted to also share my love of writing and importance of letters, words and sincere sentiment. I didn’t realize how quite difficult that would be.

See, there are people like me, the kind who love, absolutely love everything about paper. They love cards of all kinds – witty, snarky, funny, emotional, handmade, etc. They also love beautiful things – design, paper, quality – and don’t mind paying a higher price for that experience and they want to share that experience with their loved ones. Then there are the other people – the kind that may love paper, but they definitely don’t like paying over $2.00 for a card. They also don’t care about the design details – the elements that make them stand out. These are the people that may shop at Target and CVS for their cards. They may not be writers, but they on occasion like to send out a card to a loved one. This group also likes to send out photograph cards at the Holidays that they order online and spend maybe less than a dollar per card.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve mailed out Holiday photo cards before, especially after a big international trip. They’re fun. But they’re also impersonal. That being said, one of the similarities I find between the two groups of people above is that they both suffer from not having enough time and/or good enough reason to write. Everyone loves getting handwritten cards and notes in the mail, regardless of the paper quality, but nobody has the time to write said cards and notes. So we end up with a group of people that are both admirers to a degree, but have no way of connecting, nor motivation to connect outside of modern technology – email, text, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and whatever new app has appeared.

In the end, people want to connect. They are dying to connect. Many people are hurting because they cannot connect. They feel too stressed, endlessly busy, pressured to conform, and an entire host of other ailments and they connect in a not-so-connected way. I wanted to fix that. I wanted to swirl into the Stationery Town like the Tazmanian Devil (I admit, I’m kind of that way) and shake the Town down to it’s core with my fine papers and envelopes and stationery sets. I wanted to help connect people and make a living doing that and then proudly wave the banner of success to everyone. To some degree I have, but to many degrees I have not.

Six years that have included a trip to Japan to learn paper making, quitting more than a few jobs, almost losing my apartment and car one too many times to count, asking friends for way more help than I’ve done ever, learning to appreciate all that I have and not focus on all that I don’t, losing some friends in the process, becoming more comfortable with me time and saying no, working from more Starbucks than I’d like because of free wifi, constantly being on the yo-yo of doubting myself for these decisions and then loving them, sleeping way too much than I should, gaining more weight than I’m comfortable with, taking a month to care for my almost-two-year-old niece, constantly being inspired and creating new products, and I’m sure quite a few more things that I’m forgetting to mention, I’m taking a detour on this Stationery train ride and I’m taking a long stop in an area that I’d equate to the Mid-west of America. Which is quite appropriate given that as an 11 year old, my family moved from NYC to Ohio to allow my brother and I a chance at a normal childhood that was safe. (It makes sense to me and will to you as this rolls out.)

Where I’m headed project wise is NOT safe. And I’ll never be my 11-year-old-self again, but I’m slowing down all the engines to focus on one project and making sure that it works well and that it does what I think the world needs, connect us to those we love most and even those we don’t love, but who we could stand to love and appreciate more.

S2 Stationery is my heart. It will always be in the picture. (It is not going anywhere – the Etsy shop with the handmade papers and stationery sets will remain during this break – it just will not be the main focus.) This business courses through my veins. It makes me happy and sad; frustrated and joyful. If I ever had a life purpose this is it. However, as with all things, sometimes you need a break – you need to step away from things, see the big picture and move forward, even if that is a leap and it is scary. The things that matter the most do inspire fear, but they also create great things.

Without further ado, allow me to introduce you all to S2 Awareness Projects!

S2 Awareness Projects combines stationery, politics (to a degree) and social justice.  S2 Awareness Projects share the topics and conflicts that makes S2, aka Sara Stroman, tick to make changes. These are the things that others care about, but often aren’t sure how to go about them. S2 Awareness Projects help you share your feelings, thoughts, and inspire you into written action. (We hope!) S2 Awareness Projects are transparent and will 100% of the time will raise money to donate to the cause inspiring the project and make donations on your behalf. S2 Awareness Projects is a way to make a difference, connect us and our differences and raise our voices without raising our pitchforks and/or guns.

Some, if not many, will not always agree with me or my values, but I’m willing to risk that for this project. In the end, my values and your values don’t have to be the same and if they’re not, you’re welcome to go elsewhere, however, that is not the point of this project – I want to bring people together, not tear them apart. If you’re not willing to be open-minded or hearted, this project is not for you. As much as this is a risk for me, it is a risk for you – you may grow from this project and that is always risky business.

The official slogan of S2 Awareness Projects is: “Often times, we think our differences are larger than they really are. I’m interested in finding that space and opening your heart to the similarities. By all means, your story IS your story, but that doesn’t mean you’re all that much different than me, or the person next to you. Let’s find those spaces and talk about them and make a difference, together.”

Tomorrow in this space and on Etsy and social media outlets (facebook, instagram and twitter), I’ll be announcing the first S2 Awareness Project.  Hopefully, you’ll be excited about this as much as I am.

Until, Tomorrow!

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Food, Food Issues, The Feast Montclair and S2 Stationery & Design

Every year, S2 Stationery & Design gives back. Or tries to. In the past, I’ve donated custom work to organizations working on issues important to me, the owner, Sara. I’ve worked with a Breast Cancer letter writing organization, an organization that plants trees in countries like Haiti and Honduras, an organization that helps fight for protection of the Amazon, an organization that clips coupons for military families on bases across the globe, an organization that helps fund environmental research across the globe, etc.  These donations have put me in touch with fantastic people and I’ve forged some great relationships through these projects.

This year, S2 has had to scale back on charitable giving, but last Saturday, October 11th, I was able to participate in an event that fits with the future of S2 Stationery & Design.  A lot of the explanation will need to be given at a later date – I’m still in the business planning stages here – but I want to share with you today a bit about the organization I donated time and S2 goodies – The Feast Montclair.

The Feast as described by them is:

Since 2008, The Feast has been committed to fostering a community of innovators who are revolutionizing their industries and striving for social impact. Each year we host a flagship Conference to share unique perspectives and tackle today’s greatest societal challenges. Our Conference serves as a starting point for relationships, groundbreaking projects and new initiatives that run all year long.

In 2012, we expanded internationally and created The Feast Worldwide. This independently organized series of dinner parties runs in parallel with our Conference. It gives passionate people from around the world a chance to engage their own communities in collective action.

We believe the world needs a more ambitious vision for the future. By creating that vision together, we can empower the the next generation of innovators and make our ideas tangible through technology, creative process and business models that put people first.

The Feast to me is more of a collaborative force of minds, not limited to the innovators of the world. See, everyone has creativity and possibility – it’s a matter of how it is fostered and shared.  When I was asked to participate in the Montclair hub, I jumped in. I saw endless possibility, not to mention, we decided on the topic of food and well, I’m a foodie at heart. I couldn’t say no!

As someone who helped to fill a vacant spot, I quickly became busy and juggling the planning on that end, plus working part-time and running a business, it became a bit overwhelming, but things worked out last Saturday and we were able to put on a hugely successful evening full of great speakers and full tables of conversations on how to help bridge food insecurity in the suburbs – in towns like Montclair for example. Speakers ranging from farmers to school lunch advocates to food pantry administrators helped steer attendees interested in the topic on ways to go about helping those less fortunate in their own community.

In addition to managing set up of the  venue, Watchung Booksellers, a fantastic independent book shop in Montclair,  guests were checked in, food (by the incredible Tiny Elephant Cafe that shares space with Watchung Booksellers) was served on time, I was in charge of the overall attendee experience. I was the first person guests saw when checking in. I chatted, made new acquaintances, and generally helped to keep the flow of the evening cool and collected.  I was also the person at the door at the end of the evening passing out goodie bags.  And that, my friends is where my donation really shined.

The goodie bags had a small set of my “Blank Seasonal and Local CSA Inspired Recipe Cards” in them.  It was only one of each card, so a total of five cards and they didn’t have envelopes, but that was to help foster creativity. As I wrote in a note to each guest, the cards were to give them a taste of this product that I designed with a good friend of mine to help raise money for the Long Island CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I once was a member, and she still is a member – 20% of each sale of a set of those cards (includes 10 cards – two of each recipe and envelopes) is donated to the CSA to help low-income families buy into a farm share and eat local, seasonal and healthy food.  Now are you see why I jumped in to help with this event?  I also instructed them to come here to grab a template to use for making their own envelopes out of recycled paper, magazines, anything. I also encouraged them to use the card as a postcard, a far cheaper solution. All in the spirit of being creative and sustainable. Two things that ring true to the heart and mission of S2 Stationery & Design.

As we discussed the decor of the evening, we went back and forth on incorporating herbs and wild flowers on the tables and finally, thanks to another volunteer, created center pieces with mason jars and veggies – orange peppers, red tomatoes, radish, tomatillos, eggplant. We decided that the herbs should be something the guests would take home and use for whatever purpose they chose. I had originally thought why not make small boutonniere like satchels tied with twine and put them at every seat, but then we decided it would be better to tie the herbs around each set of cards and place them in the goodie bag. It was an easier solution for having guests take something home with them.

They came out gorgeous. Absolutely stunning really. And I’m thrilled with them! I really believe they would make a fantastic favor for any event actually, not just a Feast event focused on food. They could be used for baby showers and bridal showers; for house warming and even funerals (yes, I went there – why not pass out a favorite recipe from the loved one?!). They are 100% customizable and are fine just the way they are shown below. Either way, they are something that I’d give out regularly and often, well as often as herbs are available. They could be fine tuned to fit your town, your city, your village. These are completely and totally what you make of them and lets be honest, everyone loves food and eating. Not to mention, sharing recipes and meals is one of the oldest past times of humans – like that of storytelling.

I can’t stress enough how much I love these and how excited I am to offer these sets the public. I’m not sure how yet, but I know that thanks to some local farms in Montclair, I know where to get herbs and can start off in New Jersey ASAP. Huzzah! I owe it all to The Feast Montclair and the snazzy team of women that put it all together and helped set the path for community involvement in an issue that is near and dear to my heart – food equality – but for the future of S2 Stationery & Design.

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Anyone interested in purchasing these please contact me via my Etsy Shop or my website. These are fantastic little gifts for the upcoming Holidays! For those of you interested in a the sets with herbs and or customizing your own set with herbs, contact me via my website. Yay!

Meeting Gina Mulligan of Girls Love Mail

Several Sundays ago, May 20th, I attended the National Stationery Show (post to come soon!) as a guest. I was Gina Mulligan’s guest and it was and she is awesome!

Me and Gina Mulligan.

For those of you who haven’t read my blog and don’t know what the big deal is about Gina and I meeting a few weeks ago, let me explain.

My relationship with Gina starts with the social network site Twitter. Yes, Twitter.

I don’t remember the specifics, but I somehow got wind of her and her non-profit Girls Love Mail, an organization seeking handwritten letters for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients, via a tweet that I saw and I contacted her immediately. Our brief exchange of tweets led way to longish emails talking about our respective projects and ways we could work together. They also included stories being shared – I shared with her my stories about my grandmother’s death from breast cancer and my father’s recent death and my subsequent dream and business and she shared with me her own story of being diagnosed with cancer and receiving letters as she wrote her book. We were both moved to start a collaboration and well, a relationship was born!

Meeting Gina in person for the Stationery Show was incredible.  Prior to last month, Gina and I had only corresponded via email, twitter and mail (she baked cookies and sent me some at Christmas!).  While I had no worries about whether we would get along or not upon meeting, I was definitely curious to meet the woman I had spent a few hours corresponding with. We were modern day pen pals! As I knew she would be, Gina turned out to be such an amazing person-kind and goodhearted and as I told her many, times, I thank Twitter for our meeting.

Social media is a great and useful tool, but too often we reach out and talk to people, but don’t make real connections. Meeting Gina was a moment where the power of social media merged with real life. Social media can be a huge soul sucking waste if all you’re doing is looking at people’s profiles instead of living your life, but it can also be an amazing instrument in bridging gaps and spaces that you might have never otherwise known.

See, I had been itching to volunteer with a breast cancer organization that is not the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. I’m not badmouthing Komen at all. They are a great organization and have done so much in the fight against breast cancer. In fact, I used to donate and run the Race for the Cure in Washington, DC in honor of my grandmother who passed away from the disease in 1992. I no longer do and it’s not because of the issue they had with Planned Parenthood earlier this year. No, I stopped because I worked for a cancer non-profit in my 20s and I saw the mismanagement of funds and started questioning what would happen if a cure for cancer in general was found. What would organizations like my old employer and Komen would do? They operate like corporations and are constantly after money, so what would their next steps be?

I don’t want anyone to think that I have a distrust for all non-profits, because I don’t. As a matter of fact, between 2006 and 2011, I ran four marathons and raised money for blood cancers through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society ‘s Team in Training program, but looked into their spending before committing to raising money. Having relationships with children and adults who have benefited from LLS definitely made that connection stronger and more visible. I know the same can be said for Komen, but something about them and I just didn’t match several years ago and I’ve since moved away from supporting their organization personally.

Having said that, Gina does work with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but her organization does so much more and because of that, I feel like I’m more connected to breast cancer patients and the cause. The letters written to her organization go into the hands of women who need the positive energy that comes from written words and from knowing that someone, a stranger, is supporting them through a tough time in their life.  This is why I love Girls Love Mail and why I am so honored to have partnered with Gina when she first started the organization and to have a relationship with her. Her husband, by-the-way, is pretty awesome, too!

Again, I am so grateful to Twitter and for timing being on my side. (I don’t spend all day on Twitter, so having seen the tweet about her was good timing in deed!)  I also also grateful to the National Stationery Show for being held in New York City – it brought me and Gina, who lives in California, together for a few days and it was wonderful!

I encourage everyone to sign up to write a letter. The stationery sheet that you can download when you sign up was designed by me specifically for Girls Love Mail.What are you waiting for? Go write a letter! Bring a smile to a woman’s face.  I’m sure you’ll be smiling as well.

Oh, and Gina, if you read this post, THANK YOU! You are one rocking woman!

Tinkering Away

While I took a bit of a hiatus writing to accommodate all the stress and change I was undergoing, I was (and still am) working on projects and new designs. Some have been SUPER easy to do and one has been a bit hard (I’m stressed thinking about it!). I’ve also had a few contacts that have not panned out-a customer will contact me about doing work and then pull out last minute because of time, cost, etc. Those have been the most frustrating because I’ve dedicated time to figure out cost and my time and I’ve even started working on designs only to not get the order. Alas, you win some, you lose some.

Anyhow, here is a sampling of some of the project I’ve been working on below. I’m as giddy as a school girl on the first day!

New in Custom Wedding Invitations:

Recipe Card Wedding Invitation Set
Recipe Card Wedding Invitation Set
Recipe Card Wedding Invitation Set
Recipe Card Wedding Invitation Set

New in Custom Baby Announcements:

Crocus Flower Baby
Crocus Flower Baby

New in Donations/Charitable Giving:

Coups for Troops Thank You Postcards
Coups for Troops Thank You Postcard
Earthwatch Institute Donation for Custom Social Stationery Set at NY Event
Earthwatch Institute Donation for Custom Social Stationery Set at NY Event

New in Wedding+Envelope Fun:

World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan
World Travel Crew Wedding Invite with Antique Poster Print Lined Envelopes of France, Italy, and Japan

I am personally attached to ALL of them. I think they’re lovely, stunning, and different in their own way. The envelopes in the last set have been in my brain for YEARS to do and I have finally gotten them done. And I love them! The envelopes are handlined with old prints from the Cavallini & Co. annual vintage poster calendar collection. These are from 2011, I think, so they’re not too old, but they are the Paris, France, Italy, and Japanese Woodblock calendars. Stunning, no?

The custom wedding invite at the top, well, that one just makes me happy, super happy. It’s my all time favorite invitation that I’ve created. The rosemary sprig was drawn by hand-I’ve got skills yo! But more importantly, I’ve wanted to make those invitations for a while, I just needed the right couple to make them for. And they appeared, so the lesson here is to always be careful of what you ask for…except sometimes it comes to be and it’s amazing and that’s what I’ve learned. Huzzah!

Oh, and about the Charitable donations I’ve shown in photos-I commit to only four a year and before anyone asks, I’ve already lined up the four I’m doing for 2012. Sorry about that!

So that’s it! New designs; new projects of awesome! New winds of inspiration. I feel, minus the one baby shower invitation that is stressing me out, ready to tackle the world! Huzzah!

There you have it, a post that is short and sweet and has photos- instead of rambling about my own business strategy and development- where I am actually showing you my work.  It’s all about give and take, give and take, friends.  I’d love to hear any comments you have about the work.

Oh, and lastly, items will be available for sale on Etsy sometime in the next week, as will be updated on my website. So many changes and updates to come!

Handmade Cards of Thanks

Hello Readers!

The last two weeks were a flurry of posts of cards and they were fun and they kept things fresh on the blog while my work life spun out of control. This week, things are definitely different- I’m three days into the new job (more details tomorrow on the blog) and battling serious sleep deprivation.  But on the whole things are good and I’m happy and well, life is just moving in the direction it should be at this time.

Anyhow, last week, I went home to a large envelope with the DonorsChoose Logo on it. I was shocked, I mean, I wasn’t expecting anything from them and I haven’t donated to them since last year (DonorsChoose is part of my charitable giving annually. I will donate money to them again this year, just later in the year).  The donation was to a teacher, Mr. Geiger, who wanted to buy necessary materials to take his class camping (read about the project titled Outdoor Education Classroom).

A little secret about me- trees make me tired. Shhhh!!

It is a proven fact that when I go camping I fall asleep immediately for hours. Sometimes 12 hours or longer.

I guess trees relax me more than anything else, or rather nature does. Which would explain why I love trees and want to study paper from trees and also help children learn to love trees.

Either way, I’ve been receiving updates about the project electronically and was content with those notifications. Besides, I’ve never received any non-electronic communication from teachers and/or students for past donations. Which is why when I opened the large envelope to find hand made cards out of construction paper thanking me for my donation from the students, I was filled with glee! The letter writer, paper lover, artist, and educator inside jumped for joy. Lots of joy at these gifts.

Photos, so you can see just why I was so happy, from the lovely cards are below and if you look hard enough you may be able to make out the incredibly sweet and sincere messages written by the students.

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It is incredible what a simple card can do to remind you of the good in people.