S2 Makes – Need A Last Minute (and Fast!) Valentine’s Day Card?

Sunday is Valentine’s Day – one of my favorite holidays. For many, a holiday that some would label “stupid” or “it sucks!” or “another Hallmark holiday!” – and one that they’ll blow off or watch, as I did one year with a good friend, “The Valentine’s Day Massacre” on the History Channel, about an infamous mafia murder in Chicago, while eating Sloppy Joe’s and drinking wine.

I tend to find Valentine’s Day a holiday of beauty. Well, once you get rid of the notion that it is about gifts and ridiculous expectations. It’s a day for expressing love and that expression can be anything. School children give out cute cards and treats. In my world, I give out CD’s called Love Mixes to my girlfriends. (I’ve written about them in the past on this blog.) For individuals in relationships, they may give big gifts such a jewelry, or expensive flowers, or lingerie, or cars. I don’t know. My extent of relationship Valentine’s Day gifts have always involved cooked meals and hugs, which is why I err on the cute and sincere end of the giving spectrum.  Although, as a teenager, I did receive a single rose each year from my Dad – he would have it delivered while he was out on the road driving a truck. It always made me feel special, but it was really the feeling of being loved and remembered from the greatest male role model of my life, who was away.

You can say that my expectations for Valentine’s Day are not that great. And they aren’t, but they do include time and sincerity. Only give me what you truly want to give, and hopefully it involves food cooked at home, time, laughter, hugs and dancing. Everything else does not matter. Mind you these are all things that I do for myself, so they’re not really expectations or gifts, they are simply things that make me smile and feel happy.

I can still remember my first Valentine’s Day in NYC – walking through Times Square Station and seeing the endless sea of red – coats, hats, gloves, bags – worn by New Yorkers commuting. That filled my heart, and still does, in a way that gifts cannot. If thousands of people in NYC (often labeled the rudest and most unfriendly) can get together as individuals to show love in a grand way, then we can show love in small ways to people we love and strangers this one designated day a year and it can be as simple as wearing the color red to spread cheer.  Mind you, this is something we should incorporate every day, but that is a conversation for a different day.

While I’m not the biggest gift fan, I am a fan of love notes and letters and cards and therefore will tell you now that if you do show up to your loved one in all red with doughnuts do bring along a card. It doesn’t have to be great. It need not cost $10, nor  sparkle. It doesn’t have to have anything in it aside from your lovely words of love. All your card need do is express your feelings, validate you spending your day and time together and be sincere and this applies to romantic partners, children, parents, etc.

In preparation for this holiday, and what I call Love Month, I put together a video for the Etsy Team in NY that I’m a member of and think it’s worth sharing with you guys. It’s a five minute video tutorial showing you how to make a pop-up heart card for Valentine’s Day. Materials are simple and the cards take not even three minutes to make. It is the fastest Valentine’s Day card you’ll make for your loved one and as I share in the video, it is also the most heartfelt.

If you do make one of these cards, I hope your loved one, or the person on the receiving end loves it. I hope they reward you with a hug and smile and kiss. I hope you feel good for doing something so small and sincere. I hope your heart is full this Valentine’s Day.

Oh, and for those curious about this year’s Love Mix. Here’s a freebie for you via a Spotify playlist – “Love is Water – Love Mix 2016” – Enjoy!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

S2 Letter Love – Celebrating Valentine’s Day With A Favorite Letter

This week is quite the week. We are on the tail end of a few holidays including the Chinese New Year (Monday- it’s my year! I’m a Monkey!) – Mardi Gras yesterday- today, Ash Wednesday. (Which starts my favorite religious period of the year.) However, this weekend ends with Valentine’s Day and next week kicks off with President’s Day – President Lincoln, I salute you!

Can we say, whoa, holidays?!

As we get ready to celebrate Valentine’s Day, I want to get you in the mood of writing letters to your loved ones, I’m sharing one of my absolute favorite love writings from fiction. Obviously, I’m a writer, a paper lover and well, a lover of well written fiction so I have many letter passages from fictional works that I love, but this letter by Captain Frederick Wentworth to Anne Elliot is one of my favorites.

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone fore ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own, than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan. -Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?-I had not waited even these ten says, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.-Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in                    F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never.”  – “Persuasion,” Jane Austen

To give you some history, I was late to Jane Austen. I can remember when the craze hit in the 90s, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea, even though I did greatly enjoy other fictional novels written during her time period. It wasn’t until I had to read “Emma” as part of my English Literature degree at The George Washington University that I truly fell for Jane Austen and her characters. It was also around this time that my aunt and I discovered the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth as Darcy. We started an annual weekend to watch it together. Elizabeth and Darcy solidified my love, obviously.

I have slowly tackled Austen’s work loving each for various reasons since then. Although, I must admit that I have read “Pride and Prejudice” more often than the others. Which is why when I found myself in love with “Persuasion” I was shocked. See, I encountered Persuasion backwards – I watched it first as a movie on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater and loved it.  I then bought the book and read it and loved it more. It is my favorite Austen novel.  The page where the letter I shared above sits in my copy is dogeared a few times.

I can only imagine what receiving a letter like this would cause feeling wise. And maybe that’s why I love it so and wanted to share today.

If you have a favorite letter, please let me know. I’d love to expand on my collection. In fact, I think we all should keep a collection of save worthy love letters – it reminds us of what we’re capable of doing, feeling and enduring.

 

 

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!”

The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through Letters

Letter writing has pretty much become obsolete. There are very few who have the attention span to sit and write a real letter.  I am one of them, although it has required me to train my brain to focus and have the patience to write for long periods. It’s amazing to think that this obsoletion has taken place in the last twenty years or so. I mean, I’m only 35 and as a 12 year old I was writing letters to pen pals in countries like Italy and France.

Since modern technology has taken over, we have lost a sense of self that can always be found in writing. Whether it is a simple journal entry a day, or a letter to a loved one away, or a card to a parent on their birthday, we not only leave a piece of ourselves with those words we use/used, but we open ourselves up to learning about who we are over time.

When I look back at some of the greatest leaders of our time, they utilized two tools outside of their physical voices and bodies – pens and paper. They drafted speeches and wrote endlessly as a way of being heard and communicating with not just their followers, but their dissenters, their governments and their loved ones.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example of a leader who used writing as a strength and to his advantage.

I originally wanted to share a letter of his on this blog, as part of a new series where I will feature a notable letter on major holidays and/or days of celebration in our Country and in American history, but kept coming up with only the infamous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” – which is a must read for anyone and I mean everyone who is interested in social justice and race relations. I do not have the space to share that letter on this blog, so instead, I’d like to direct you to “The Archive” on “The King Centerwebsite.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of letters in the archive. They are all worth looking at and reflecting on. Not every letter is a bold statement. Many letters were acts of kindness and compassion and gratitude. Many were letters from normal every day individuals seeking his help. Many were letters of threat and violence. Yet, through all these different letters, you get to see the intelligence and integrity of this man. He is no longer alive, but his letters carry his voice and his dreams and his goals to all of us.

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr. day. It is a holiday. It is a day that some reserve for acts of volunteerism. It is a day where some people have to work. It is a day where for some, it is completely lost on them the significance of the man and his work. It is a day where for many, it is a day of hope and reflection.

As we step further in 2016 and look to change and to how we can stop the violence in our communities, among each other, among our “enemies,” and in our government, we owe it to Dr. King, to read his words and write our own letters of change. Write them to your Mom, your local Police Station, your Governor, your Mayor, your local Environmental Commission, your Congressman, your Senator, your President, your best friend, your cousin. Who ever. Just write your letter of change. It doesn’t have to be long. It could be a letter of thanks. You never know, until you stop the racing brain and calmly write your hopes, fears, and intentions down. Maybe you’ll inspire someone and maybe action will transpire. Maybe it will be part of an archive one day, too.

S2 Says Thanks!

It’s been a while since I last wrote. Don’t worry, I’m not going to apologize.

I’d like to believe that the reason why I haven’t written is because I’ve been too busy. The reality though, is that I’ve created excuses to not write. I’ve posted twice in the last five months and they’ve been updates on where I am and where I plan to go, but they haven’t been detailed or too specific because I hadn’t yet dedicated my time to those plans.

And so it’s 2016 and I have plans. One of those plans is to write more on this blog. After all, this is my main content platform and should be more up-to-date.

I’m still working out the specifics on how this blog will merge with the new projects I’m working on, but I will be updating this blog for the writers and communicators and stationery lovers. There will naturally be updates on projects and stationery products that I’m launching, but the project I am about to launch and really dive into is not so much about stationery. It’s about helping the world. It’s about using my voice and anger and passion to inspire others to help make changes that are necessary for so many on this planet.

I would almost say that this BIG project has been in the works forever. All steps have led me to this point and project. And the past two years of me struggling and trying to find my footing have not been in vain. In fact, I needed to be broke and sad and upset to truly find this project. Or rather, to have this project find me.

The title of this post is “S2 says Thanks!” and the point of this blog is to say thank you. Thank you to all of the readers and to the people who responded and commented. We are all a contradiction of thoughts and feelings and opinions and that is what makes humans so great and so possible. So thank you. I appreciate the time it takes for you to read my posts and to respond to them, when you do.

I also need to thank a few people in particular. They are people who I would not have gotten through the year without. They are people who I’ve cried to, shared my broke-ness with, and who without judgement have been there. Maybe it’s because they believe in this dream of mine? Maybe it’s because they believe in my leadership abilities? Maybe they are just really damn good friends? I’d like to believe it’s all three, but the reality is that without their love, support, encouragement, and financial assistance, I might really be up shits creek.  They are, in no particular order: Alice D., Geeta V., Melissa G., Lauren S., Jessica P., my Mom, my brothers, my grandpa, Marie J., Nancy S., Dawn O., Mert G.,  and Helene R. I can only say that I am the luckiest person in the world to have you all in my life and on this journey. Thank you! 

I also need to thank my customers. I’ve had some incredible customers these past two years. Without them S2 wouldn’t be here. I mean, it would, but I’d have no income. So I want to thank them for all their support and generosity in buying from me and believing in the product that I believe so much in, too.

Before I end this post, I’ll share one more bit: The day before New Year’s Eve, I stupidly spilled coffee on my computer. It was the one I bought when I decided to launch this business in 2009. When I went to the Apple store, I was told that my computer was vintage and could not be fixed by them, but that I could go to an outside repair place authorized by Apple to fix Macs. I was warned that the price would be in the several hundreds.

In tears, I left the store. That Mac, Keegan, had been my best friend – he was my technology secret keeper – holder of my designs, music, photos, and inspiration. He traveled to Japan with me and to several other countries. And he was in ruin a day after I had asked him to hang on for a little bit longer because I needed him. (Ha! I jinxed myself!)

That day, I texted a good friend of mine and asked her for help. (Her name is listed above because without her I would not be writing this blog post of thanks.) She helped me purchase the new mac that I now own and who will, almost seven years after my first mac, take me into the next phase of S2. I owe her literally a lot of money, but I also owe her much more because her belief in me is what made her say yes, and what allowed me to ask for such a large amount of help.

In 2009, my dad died and the dream that started S2 came to me in a dream as I slept on a bunk bed in a hostel in Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy. Seven years later, the next phase begins and it is going to be just as amazing and a doozy. I’m ready. I hope you are ready. And if you’re not, well buckle your safety belts, we’re going for a ride!

From the very bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!

Love,

S2

What Makes You Uncomfortable?

Last week, within minutes of posting my blog about the “Women’s Choice” Statement Cards, I received an comment about my project. It was from a gentleman I hadn’t heard from in quite some time. We met back in 2011 at a conference that the company we both worked for hosted. He is a great guy, from what I remembered and I was happy to hear from him.

Of course, what he had to say was a not what I wanted to hear, but that comes with the territory when you decide to speak things and of things that no one else is comfortable talking about. I would like to believe that I responded to his email as compassionately as possible. That I wasn’t rude, or mean, or flippant of his views. That was not my intention.

Post launch of my first S2 Awareness Project, I started to wonder why is it so hard to hear things we don’t want to hear. Why do we take this personally? Why do we shun each other or, rather, stop talking about the important things because of our response to criticism or opposing views?

It made me wonder what else are we afraid of talking about? What else makes us uncomfortable? Race is already a given. Abortion equates to going to hell. Politics, I can’t even begin there. Gun violence and control gets the militias on attack.  I know there are countless other topics that are worthy of real, honest conversation, but we aren’t talking about them. So what are they?

A few nights ago on NPR, I was listening to a segment and they mentioned in regards to the topic of racism in education that people need to open dialogue about the real issues behind the problems. To give you more background, they were talking about how in one particularly diverse town, the school system is segregated. You would see White and Black and Latino kids walking around the halls together, but in the class room, all the white kids were in AP/advanced courses and all the regular classes were filled with Black and Latino kids and no one was talking about it. The administrators who could see the problem could not speak out because the parents of the White kids would object. As the writer behind this story kept talking about how the parents in this town need to keep talking, all I could wonder about was how many times have I heard this? We have so much to talk about! When are we going to talk? When are we going to stop worrying about how racist or mean or ugly we seem/sound and speak what we need to speak? How much are we all holding in? What would your truth sound like if you could afford to be vulnerable?

The first part of change is admitting something. So let’s admit to each other, “What makes me uncomfortable…” You can email (saras [at] s2stationery [dot] com) me if you don’t want to leave a comment below. You can tweet me what makes you uncomfortable with the hashtag #Iamuncomfortableabout.

I promise I’m not in this to judge. Nor am I going to make a card for all of our discomforts. Instead, I am going to see how we can break our discomfort and come out on the other side a little bit more victorious. It could be interesting, or disturbing. We’ll see.  I look forward to hearing your truths and discomforts. Let’s build this bridge piece by piece.

Celebrating Choice, Protecting Women’s Health AND Rights – S2 Stationery Awareness Project “Women’s Choice” Statement Cards

The past few weeks that have seen the attack on women’s health issues that has left me enraged, personally. This week alone, Texas has completely cut off all funding to Planned Parenthood. Not only is this disastrous for women in Texas, it sends a message to women across the entire United States that their health and well being is not a concern for this Country.  Let us be clear here, without women and proper health for women, this country will die. Women are necessary for life. It’s time that we command the respect we deserve and demand the full rights of our own bodies, whether or not those who oppose agree.

Being an entrepreneur I decided it was time to channel this anger into action. Normally, I’d be inclined to donate money to an organization, but decided I needed to go further. Donations are great, especially when one of the largest organizations is under attack and can and more than likely will lose much needed funding, but I, personally needed to do more. This naturally gave way to the launch of S2 Stationery Awareness Projects, which I wrote about on this blog yesterday afternoon.

I’m pleased to announce the first project under this division of S2 Stationery & Design – “Women’s Choice” Statement Cards! More details about them are below, as well as the links to buy on Etsy, and a little bit of information about the mission of this project. If you know anyone interested in these cards on a large scale, please contact me via my website. Let’s make positive change happen!

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Women’s health is not something that should ever be taken for granted! The United States, while definitely one of the countries that allows women many freedoms, continues to play with our freedoms, emotions, and health. It’s time to take control of our bodies, our health, and have our voices heard!

Ever a feminist, Sara Stroman, the S2 behind S2, decided she could no longer sit back and allow the rights of women to be taken away without some action. She didn’t have to look much further than her stationery business to find her “action.” Working with a good friend, who takes witty to many different levels, Peter Budka, she designed the six cards you see below. Each is printed on the bright color, heavy card stock you see photographed. You can order them individually or as a set. They come with a Kraft paper envelope. They can be traded or shared or given away. Hey, you should give them away! Mail them to your Senators and Congressmen even! These cards are meant to share your voice no matter your age or gender.

Single cards are $4.75
“Have you heard of women’s liberation?”
“When life gets tough for men”
“Smart women plan for the future”
“My dream guy…an elected official protecting the rights of women.”
“Not barefoot, uneducated and confined to the kitchen anymore”
“Are men afraid to make decisions?”

Set of 6 cards is $ 21.00

50% of every sale of every card (single or set) goes directly to Planned Parenthood to help them continue their much-needed work. $2.38 and/or $10.50 may not seem like a large donation, but every amount helps! To be as transparent as possible, every time a purchase is made, a donation will be made through S2 Stationery’s Fearless Fundraisers webpage.

I’m hoping to raise $1000 or more from your orders! So we ask that you share these cards via social media and obviously, snail mail.

I’ll be promoting these pretty much forever, or until change is made. The donations will also be a forever thing as well. Please note, that on the Fearless Fundraisers page, I had to select a date; that will continue to be adjusted as the project continues.

Again, if anyone would like to help get the word out, please contact me via email info[at]s2stationery[dot]com.

About S2 “Awareness” Projects – 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.