“When I get married, I’m totally having you do my invites.” – Why I’m Changing the Business Offerings of S2 Stationery & Design + When

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An advertisement I snapped a picture of just before leaving Japan in January, 2013. That was 3.5 years ago and this sign seems more relevant now than it did the day I took the photo.

I’ve been running S2 Stationery & Design for over seven years now.

Yep, you read that correct, SEVEN YEARS!!

And it’s time for a change.

You already know the story, the idea for S2 came to me while traveling around Italy a month after my father’s death in 2009. It was a series of signs that came to me and then a dream that resulted in this dance I’ve been doing since. A dance that has turned into a full-fledged and non-stop Merengue (the kind where you’re left gasping and wondering when the damn song is going to end) in 2012.

There are moments where I honestly believe that I’ve worked my ass off to get to this point. Then, there are moments where I don’t believe I’ve worked my ass off to get this point. Those moments are the most difficult. Those are the days and nights where I struggle to sleep because I don’t have enough money to pay this bill or do that thing with my friends, or to pay back someone I borrowed money from a few weeks prior. It is exhausting and I wonder if I should at that point pack it in and be an adult – find a 9-to-5 job that pays me well enough to stop the stress. Those are the nights that have and continue to leave me feeling stuck.

People like me love to talk about following their passions. As they should. We are following our passions that come across as outrageous and/or out-of-the-box, and that anyone who is looking for stability wouldn’t understand. What I’m doing is not for the faint of heart, but nothing about following your passion is glamorous or inspiring for that matter. That last point often gets glossed over when people choose to deal with the awe of tossing common sense for a passion.

Following my passion, has required me to become comfortable with asking for help (which I rarely did before), saying no (even to people I love the most), feeling lonely (I barely go out any more), gaining weight (stress beats the shit out of your body), and living in a space of doubt, so much doubt, that I’m continuously uncertain of my accomplishments.

Something that people who talk about following their passions never really discuss is the sticky space of what happens when, like me, you don’t have thousands of dollars saved up and have to work a job to help bring in money so that you can survive and afford the basic necessities. There are so many people, gurus of this “follow your passion” movement, who have taken office jobs to save money and then quit. They talk about this as though it’s a temporary solution that is magical. And it may have been for them, but as someone who has sat in this space for a while now, it’s killing me.

I found my current 9-to-6 job at a point where what I was doing was not working. Where I was bouncing from lots of part-time jobs that kept me from focusing on S2 Stationery and had me resent my decision to quit my job. Let me be a bit more clear -I was resenting the loss of the steady income I no longer had, not the job itself. Working for the last company I worked for was not all that pleasant and I know I made the right decision by leaving.

I know this sounds dramatic, but I feel the same way I felt a few years ago when I was working for a big corporation in NYC. While I haven’t reached the point of crying for the 30-minute duration of my commute, the unhappiness has resulted in overeating, not exercising, not wanting to get up in the morning early enough to do work I need to get done for S2, etc. And I’m fed up with it. Honestly, I’ve been daydreaming about quitting and all the ways it can happen.

Now, the part of me that wants to maintain my car and apartment, fight this and that’s why I do eventually get up and get dressed and go to work. And that part reminds me that I need to motivate myself and do the work that I need to do. And this same part reminds me that it’s time to create goal deadlines to get out of this situation.

All of this leads me to changes…and you may be thinking that you’ve gotten to this point and still don’t understand the quoted bit in the post’s title, “When I get married, I’m totally having you do my invites.”  Let me explain…

When I started S2, I was a diehard fan of creating wedding invites. I wanted to spend a ton of my time working with brides and catering to their needs and whims in a design capacity. I have been told so many times, I’ve lost count, the quote above, and finally after seven years, I’ve decided that I don’t want to hear it any more. Primarily because it’s not true. Every single person who has made that statement has in fact, not used my design for their wedding, nor have they even reached out.

Now, before you accuse me of sounding bitter, note that I’m not. I’m actually quite gleeful that I’m shutting down the wedding invitation design side of S2 Stationery & Design. In fact, I’m shutting down a lot of the custom design business. And I’m quite glad.

It’s been seven years since I started this journey and while I’ve enjoyed every single customer I’ve worked for and every single project I’ve commissioned, as I take stock of both myself personally and my business professionally, I’m letting go of the things that are not worth my time. I’m saying, “NO!” to the stuff that isn’t fulfilling me anymore. I’m saying no to even the thought of a promise that isn’t there.

The next stage of S2 is taking shape and has been vaguely discussed in other posts that I haven’t followed up on, and is being ironed out now, but there is still a ways to go. I’m sure I’ll do some commissioned work and maybe even the occasional wedding invite during this time (I’ve had a few people say, “crap, but I really did plan on using you when the day came!), especially if it is aligned with the work I’m transitioning to, but I’m no longer holding out on promises and work that does not nourish me or my creative pursuits.  This isn’t about the money, or lack there of, either. No, this is about the nourishment. Finally! Right now, the nourishment is found elsewhere and I’m excited for this change.

I’m finalizing some creative projects now, but in Quarter 4, starting October 1st, S2 is moving away from the custom work you’ve known. I’ll still be making stationery sets and individual greeting cards. I’ll still have these wares at markets, but the real work – the work my soul has been longing for the past two years begins. I’ll do my best to keep you up-to-date in a more consistent fashion as things change over.

More soon!

S2 Weddings: A Bridal Book That Makes Me Proud

Welcome to the S2 Weddings category. Part of this new revamp of the blog is that I’m going to put different topics under different categories so that I get to play around with all the aspects of my stationery and communication business, but also so that you know when you don’t want to read a post. For example, if you care about traveling, then you might not be interested in a wedding post of mine. But if you’ve stumbled on to my site while looking for wedding invitations, then you would care about my wedding posts. It’s a work in progress, so we’ll see how it goes, but I hope it goes well.

Without further ado, let’s talk about this STUNNING bridal book I put together for a custom client. This book has been in the works for over a year now, or maybe exactly a year. I delivered said book the week before Christmas 2015, so I did make it within the year mark, but it took a lot of back and forth with the customer, only because I was trying to hand deliver it versus mailing it, and because it stumped me.

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I love books. I’ve always been an avid book lover and I’ve also attempted to make my own books. I shared a post a few years ago now, about rediscovering my very first book that I made completely by hand using card board and ribbon to bind it together. I still have no clue how I did that, or how I instinctively knew to put it together in that manner, but I did. It still wows me!

I’m not a book maker per se. I would never tell a customer, “yes, I’m a book maker.” See, there are talented book makers in this world, not accidental book makers like me, but that does not mean that for the right client and project, that I won’t step into the real of book maker. It is an art. And I do have a way with making books. So I am capable and interested. And when this project along, it seemed natural to job into it and offer my book making services and skills.

We had discussed a modern looking book for these cards. The theme of my client’s daughter’s wedding was modern art. Her daughter had a degree in modern art and loves it and is a superb artist herself. Keeping in theme with the bridal shower invitations the customer ordered through Vera Wang, I adapted the laser cutting art into my piece. I also should note that we designed the insert cards to look like Pantone chip cards using the colors she selected for the bridal shower. These cards were mostly color with 1/3 of the space left white for “advice for the bride.”

When I went into organizing the book, I did my best to coordinate the colors in an order based on how many there were for each card. Of course, the control freak tendency of mine wished that there had been some order in how these cards were given out, but that was the least of my worries. No, see the bulk of my worries and why it took me so long from late January to December to get this book done correctly was that I was afraid of messing it up.

I knew that much like a Pantone swatch book, I needed to get the proper binding tool and get the holes punched just right not to mention get the modern design cut correctly.

So I simmered wondering how I was going to get this done and then wouldn’t you know, last spring, I received a free Cricut Explore Air machine in exchange of a review on Amazon. This happens all the time and my review at the time was spot on. (I should go and write an updated review based on how this book turned out!)

With minor adjustments to the scan of the invitation, I used the cricut machine to cut out the image to the sizes I wanted and then using several layers of paper, both a pale cream cover weight paper and a metallic opal standard weight paper that matched the shower invitation put the designs together.

It took me several versions of this. Gluing each piece together alone took time and resulted in glue everywhere and spots on the paper. Being a control freak type-A designer, I always think that customers will see the same imperfections that I do and so I go over and over and over a piece until I get it correct, or at least correct in my eyes.

I am incredibly proud of this piece. I am stunned by it’s beauty. I am amazed that I made it with my hands. I didn’t want to deliver it. I wanted to keep it for myself. It’s one of those pieces that you love for ever and ever. It’s the piece that you know will bring you respect in the design world. It is one of those pieces that you know your customer will love having in their home and will proudly share who made it for them. It is that piece that communicates your goals, mission and aspirations for what you do. It is the piece that has a bit of your heart and soul in it.

Photos of the book are below. This is a pricey piece. It does require a lot of elements even though I use a machine for some of the work of it. Hand punching pieces of paper requires a lot, okay?

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Those who are interested can reach me by leaving a comment below or sending me an email to info [at] s2stationery [dot] com.

And for those curious – my customer emailed me and told me that she was on vacation, but she absolutely loves the book. “Sara, it came out great!”

A Couple Gets Married Today! (And Why I Love Weddings)

I love weddings. I always have.

When I was young, say 20 years young than I am now, I used to devour Martha Stewart Weddings Magazines. I’m serious. I ripped out pages of dresses, flowers, cakes, invitations, and lets be honest, anything else I thought was pretty, or cute, or that I would one day want at my own wedding.

Let that soak in for a minute, please.

At the age of 13, I was already planning my fantasy, Disney-esque wedding, complete with the domestic goddess, Martha Stewart’s blessing.  In other words, I was that girl. The girl that men are advised to not marry now. The ones that seem to only want to get married to have a wedding.

Now, while this may seem a bit crazy, it was fun. It was a lot of fun to be a 13 year old gal dreaming and planning her future wedding. And I suppose it makes all the more sense now that as a 33 year old single woman, who hasn’t had her fantasy wedding (please note, my idea of my wedding now is much different than then!), I have fun helping brides plan their own weddings via their invitations.

The road to owning my own stationery company has been largely based on custom orders. Since the beginning, I have had the pleasure to work with various clients, who I have gotten to know and love. Some of them have become friends through the process. For example, I had one client who asked me to dog/apartment sit for them while they went out of town for a weekend. I did it without any problems, mostly because it allowed me to finish their order and leave it for them on their table ready to address and mail out. That’s the kind of service I like to provide. Happy customers equal happy Sara and happy business.

I could easily regale you with more stories like the one above from past clients, but I won’t. Instead I want to share a couple who are getting married today, Friday, September 19th in a town I spent many years of my youth – Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

The Bride is someone I knew in high school. We had several AP classes together. Thanks to Facebook, we were able to reconnect in the way that many of us do now. When she got engaged, I announced via Facebook that I had quit my job and was going down the path of full-time entrepreneurship. She contacted me via Facebook message almost immediately to ask if we could talk about wedding invitations.

Earlier this year, in February when I drove to Chicago for my good friend’s wedding, I was able to sit down with the Bride and Groom to hand deliver their save the date announcements and talk ideas for wedding invitations. It was a productive meeting, but it was also the first time I had seen the Bride, Natosha, since our graduation day in 1998. It really felt like time had not passed.  As I sat next to the couple and watched their interaction, I knew that they were not only a good match, but that their lives together were going to be fun and full of love.

My work with Natosha was mostly done via text and email, with a few phone conversations in between, but I think the end result was worth all the communication.  From a save the date announcement card to the wedding invitation and then program and seating chart board, what we created together came out beautifully and stands as one of my favorite collections this year.

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I am so excited for Natosha and Eric as they celebrate their union today!  It was such an honor to work with them and as I told her it is such pride and pleasure and happiness that I am able to be there as part of their lives through my stationery pieces. This is what I do, and every piece is my little way of having an impact and sharing/spreading love with not just my clients, but all the people that they hold near and dear. That’s some serious love spreading! Huzzah!

Congrats again Natosha & Eric! S2 wishes you many, many, many years together of health, happiness, and snugly love.