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!



“With Like” – Thoughts On Closing Letters

Two  years ago in May, I met a guy named Leo on a bus ride back to NYC from DC. He was older, like in his 70s, and was on his way to visit a sister who was ailing and talked about getting to see his son, who he doesn’t always get to spend time with. We talked the entire bus ride. He told me about traveling to Asia, meeting his wife, starting his family, running his business. The entire life story. I soaked it up.

I have since learned that I attract old people on buses, because he’s not the first or last oldish person I’ve talked to. My favorite definitely goes to the old man in Hamburg, Germany, back in 2005, who talked about his past and love and life to my friend and I the entire boat ride while we drank hot chocolate. He was delightful!

Anyhow, back to Leo. After Leo and I discussed the basics and I took a nap, we started talking again and he began to share with me articles that he wrote for a small newsletter. They were amazing, really. I was inspired by his writing and in one particular article, titled, “With Like.”

In this article, Leo talked about how we close letters. How every one does their best to be business like, or how sometimes “love” is too intense of a closing, but how “best” is too informal. He suggests that we close with “with like.” His main point is that if you’re writing a letter in this day and age, you clearly “like” the person enough, so maybe close with the proper sentiment.

I agree. Completely.

So I’ve been closing all kinds of letters with different closures trying to figure out which I prefer:

“Best” doesn’t do it for me.
“Cheer!” I love, but sometimes it sounds too excited and depending on the message, might not be appropriate.
“With Love” only gets used for love letters
“love” gets used for family and extremely close friends
“Sincerely” business (but not my business) letters, only
“My all” goes on thank yous
“hugs and love” goes to someone I love, but when I want a more playful note
“hugs” goes to close friends when I’m just sharing a quick note

I’m sure there are more that I’ve signed off with, but I can’t remember them right now. It’s oh, so overwhelming to decide which one to use and I find myself considering Leo’s “With like” more and more.

I think moving forward I’m going to start using “with like” on all my letters, unless they are to my mother, brothers, nephew, and other family members and my love interests. I’ll let you know how it goes. Whether anyone thinks it’s weird or responds concerned.

As for Leo, I’m going to let him know about this post and I’m going to sign my Christmas card to him this December with “with like”. Yep, he’s on my Christmas card list. And this seems mighty right.

If you have a novel way of signing off on your letters, let me know in the comment section. I’m really curious to know if people change them per letter like me, or if you’ve established a closure that is your signature closure.


Mail, Away!

Today’s posting continues what I started yesterday…a list of awesome things in honor of Valentine’s Day. Except there is just one… something I forgot to add in my list yesterday…a listing I came across Friday afternoon on, in case you don’t know, is a website where independent artists can submit proposals for funding for their projects. An amazing idea when you think about it! Rather than asking friends for money toward your dream, you can instead post a proposal (pending approval) and have absolute strangers help fund your project. What’s even more amazing is that people actually do give money to fund people’s dreams. (I would LOVE to be able to use kickstarter to fund my little project as well, but I need to flesh out my proposal a but more. I think I could very well make it a possibility, but we shall see.)

While perusing, I was floored by the amount of different projects that people have going on. I mean seriously they range from book writing to album making to something that just jives with what I am doing… mailing random letters to people all over the world. You can read about this delightful project called “Especially Mysterious Letters”  by Lenka and Michael on their proposal page.

When I first read their proposal, I thought, “Damn it! They beat me to my idea!” Then I realized that I was actually pleased that someone else was taking on this project. I mean, seriously, do I have time to write letters to everyone around the world? No! So I got really excited and then decided I needed to share with you their idea. Mostly because it is so parallel and yet interwoven into what I am and want to do. These two are like kindred spirits! Hooray!

To me, nothing says love quite like a letter in the mail. A real one, not an email (although those do count in some way), or a telephone call. There’s something about the anticipation of ripping open the letter and reading it’s contents. Even when the letter is lacking, there is still something, a feeling of happiness and warmth, about knowing that someone took their time (which seems to be running out for many people), to write a note, address and lick an envelope, peel a stamp and place it on an envelope.

The fact that two people are taking it into their own hands to do so and spread joy and love, well I can only share their goal and send them positive energy that they will accomplish what they’re doing. If you’re so inclined, read their posting and watch their video and feel inspired.

One day until Valentine’s Day!