Creative Genes

My Mother is the best seamstress I know! Without a doubt, actually.  Since I was a small child, she’s sewn my dresses. There was the dark green velvet with lace dress that she made me for Christmas when I was around seven. There was also my First Communion dress that she made as well as the veil. Then there were the countless homecoming dresses and my prom dress in high school. They were all amazing. Nothing was ever too far fetched for her either. I would describe what I wanted, as well as the fabric I wanted and BAM!, I’d have a dress.

Even now, at the age of 29, my mother still makes clothes for me. I send her photos of things I see in catalogues and she makes them happen. And she makes them happen beautifully. I can not stress that enough actually.

See,  my mother has a skill and talent that she got from her mother. There are plenty other talents that they shared like cooking, which is another art in its own right, but the sewing is the skill that has passed on to more than just one daughter.  And now, I know it’s been passed on to me.

I’ve always been crafty–one year I made an Advent Calendar out of felt and cheap wooden toys I had bought at Woolworths (my mom still hangs it up every year–it’s hideous!), I learned to crochet, I took two years of ceramics in high school, and I was always the Christmas gift wrapper.  The latter was of great help when I started working at Papyrus just after graduating high school. Yet, with all of this, I never became a sewer.  Oh, how I wanted to be a sewer! After all, my mother is amazing at sewing and I thought we’d have more time together if I mastered sewing, but I never did.  I got as far as a few cloth bags with my cousins and a lopsided shirt and gave up.  I figured I didn’t have that skill and wasn’t going to have it ever and well forgot about it.

Now, as a woman making her way in the stationery business, I realize that both my mom and abuela’s (and who knows how many other ancestors) creative gene was passed on to me.  I’m sure to some extent my father’s family has a creative gene, but I can directly point to my Mom when I sit with a piece of card stock and a needle and thread attempting to stitch a design on a card. A lot of my card designs involve the use of sewing, the beautiful embellishment that it brings. I have a long way to go to master it and I don’t know that I’ll ever be as talented as my mother, but I must say I’m glad that I’ve got this love, knowledge and ability from her. Thanks Mom!


MY Nature of a Design

I spent most of my afternoon Sunday working on ordering and designing business cards. It was tough work. It actually made me doubt my ability to design because I could not get the proper dimensions for an online card system.  However, when I finished, I felt quite happy.   I felt happy that I had completed something that IS a big deal in starting a business – business cards. For the past year and a half I’ve had no business cards. I’ve relied on virtually no marketing whatsoever!

I wish I could blame every one and thing but myself, but that’s not the reality. I have pushed in certain ways and not in others. A good example is my still lacking website. However, it should be noted that this year I went legal with the federal and state governments, got all the necessary stuff for my friend to build my website, and started thinking about products and product lines to develop.

When you mix in the fact that I’ve had orders, actual paying orders that have been time-consuming and have been my biggest distraction, you might understand a bit more why I have been so behind on making something as simple as business cards.   I think the other fact behind it, was that I was heavily under the impression that I needed something snazzier and better than what I can afford, or should have.

I was once a business school student. I minored in marketing and I LOVED my classes and everything I was taught, but now a whole whopping 12 years later, I have realized that marketing is intuitive. Yes, there are some people who do it better and excel in their chosen careers, but over all a monkey could do it. Why a monkey? Well because it takes simple, genuine and intuitive feelings to market a product or a belief.  The easiest thing that we do as people is pass along our passions. They’re contagious. It’s the basic principle behind “Buzz Marketing.”

With only eight months to go before S2 Stationery and Design marks the two-year anniversary, I’ve sustained on buzz marketing. Mainly because I have a full-time job that takes a lot out of this gal, but also because friends have spread the buzz.  My friends have been awesome the past year–they’ve celebrated, critiqued and even cut shapes out for me. They are my cheerleaders, reminding me every day since I launched this that I am doing what I should be doing and that I shouldn’t stop.

Because of this, I’ve managed to survive and while I am not rolling in the money enough to make it my full-time job, I’ve been able to not been forced to plan and map. Several weeks ago, I was at dinner with a good friend and her friend and she is an MBA student. Kudos to her, but remember I have a business background. I’m aware of all the SHOULDS-the items like a business plan, marketing goals, budgets, etc. I just haven’t done them. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I am busy. Because I didn’t expect to have a Bar Mitzvah invitation order that required 750 pieces right off the bat!  Over the course of that period, I had to realize that I was going to have to get help from friends and that I couldn’t do everything. Even the logical things immediately.

Since then, orders and designing has taken precedence, especially since I need to have more of a collection and portfolio before I can think about BIG numbers and budgets.  In the coming weeks and months as things change and the transition that will take place, takes place, I will have more time to worry about those things, but until then I will just continue to do and be.

Sometimes all the planning in the world will not protect you from an idea that fails. In that case, I’d rather be doing and focusing on doing and making things happen and then worry about the planning aspect (although I don’t want you to think that I haven’t planned, because I have and a certain number of metrics goes into every order), but sometimes you just gotta jump and everything falls into place.

The Etsy Holiday Boot Camp Pledge

I, ____Sara of S2 Stationery and Design__________, pledge to participate in the Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp to the best of my abilities. I vow to check in every week, do my homework and support my fellow Holiday Boot Campers. I will read the weekly newsletters and blog posts, check in on the weekly forum thread, read the weekly blog post, check off the checklists and salute the mascot. I promise to share what I’ve learned with those who need it, support my fellow Etsy indiepreneurs and, most of all, have a positive and persistent attitude. I understand that together we can spread the word about our handmade and vintage goods, making this holiday season a more unique and meaningful one to gift givers and give-ees everywhere!

My Paper Obsession

I have been obsessed with paper ALL MY LIFE.

I have no reason to deny, hide or skim over this detail because it is 100% fundamentally me.  My oldest recollection of paper begins with taking stacks of the bank deposit and withdrawl slips from Citibanks whenever I’d go with my aunt.  I’m not quite sure what I did with these, although I’m pretty sure that I played bank in my free time, but I loved that film slip between the pages that imprinted the information on all three pieces. Loved it!

Another paper memory of mine involves collecting pieces of my favorite gift wrappings and taping them on the wall around my bed during my middle/high school years. Hilarious, really, but looking at those paper pieces gave me so much joy growing up.

My last memory of paper growing up is smelling the pages from the inside of my books. I have always loved the way a book smells. Sometimes it’s not very detectable and other times it’s quite pungent, but all the same I love the smell. Whether it’s old, new, on loan, from the library, from a foreign country, there is a smell and a texture and I could gladly spend hours just breathing and touching book pages.

My first job after graduating high school was working for the paper story Papyrus at the Tower City Center located in Cleveland, Ohio. The store was just opening and at the time not a franchise. I applied and got the job and before long was working as a pseudo assistant manager. It was hard work, but fun. I always enjoyed working on invitations for customers and really just learning about social writing etiquette.   I guess that was my first venture into the world of communications, something that would span a 12 year period of time.

Currently, I find myself working on websites-maintaining, designing and working on content development, but it’s not my passion. My passion is coming up with different ways to design different pieces that will then inspire others to write and communicate more honestly and openly. I don’t think there is anything better than that, personally.

So where does that leave me now. Well, as the story goes last year after the death of my father in February 2009 and completing the Maratona di Roma in March of 2009, I decided to travel for 18 days around Europe.  I stayed in Italy for 15 days and then spent several hours on a train from Milan to Barcelona, a day in Barcelona and then 2.5 days in Paris. It was glorious and the BEST way to spend $2,000 ever.  However, all of my paper obsession came to me on the last leg of my journey, between Florence and Paris…

My last day in Florence, I wore a pair of zebra printed tights.  They were on their last thread to begin with so I wasn’t shocked to find they had a hole in them at the end of the night.  That night, I tried to figure out what to do with them, but couldn’t quite justify throwing them away. So I packed them in my suitcase and figured I would just figure out how to recycle them when I got back home to New York.  Well, the following night, as I slept in the beautiful town of Riomaggiore in Cinque Terre, Italy, I realized what I would do with those tights–recycle them with paper.   I woke up startled from my dream and determined.  My thoughts continued to play with the idea of creating my own stationery and building up a design company based on this dream. It seemed all so clear in my brain, I just needed to make sense of it all.  It wasn’t until I got into Montpelier, France to catch my connecting train up to Paris that I got my second sign, on the bottom of a bag of take out food that I was crumbling up said said the company’s recycling program and the words, “Paper is life.”   That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I formulated a rough draft of what I wanted to do and then decided I needed to run it rather than focus on business plan writing.

In the year since starting my S2 Stationery and Design company, I have made it legal, done a wedding and Bar Mitzvah invitation, designed some random pieces on my own, created pieces for others including birth announcements, party invitations, and personal stationery. It has been a wild ride and I’m ready for more!

That more equates to expanding my  line of paper products and focusing on my original dream.  They are some what bold, unique and different from most paper pieces you find in most American stores. I can’t quite vouch for international designers and vendors, but I will say the last time I was in Paris, I found the most delicious paper store ever. The paper sold is unique and expensive and it made me long for more time, money and a address in Paris.

Again, the most important thing is that I’ve admitted to paper addiction and am working to make it better than ever before.

As this blog continues, I will post techniques, skills I’m learning, photos of my work and just general exciting news.  Let the paper adventure continue!