“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!

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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. 

Wedding Season 2013

Wow. I am floored at how quickly time is moving these days, or rather this year. Last year, while I cried my way through the last four months, I had no idea that January would swing in, punch me back to reality, and leaving me paying more attention to every moment I have on this planet.

This blog has taken a bit of a turn. I haven’t written as much as I would like to, nor have I felt a need to write. I’ve been writing on other spaces, but writing more so on environmental concerns.  What brings me to write now, today, is that wedding season for me has ended. This year had me work on three sets of wedding invitations and all three had delivery dates a week apart.  Each set was different and required a different set of skill and time.

One set was the complete wedding stationery from the invite all the way to the table and seating cards at the wedding, along with programs, thank you cards (my gift to the couple), menus, table cards, and escort cards.

The second wedding only involved invitations and an RSVP post card, but required that I cut slots into the side of the third layer, to apply the top layer and hold it all together with a knot in the center.

The third wedding was the most simple, as it was two layers to assemble.

When I discuss custom wedding projects with a couple, I promise them that the final product will be exactly that, a final product. There will be no assembling on the couples part; all that will need to be done is invitations stuffed in envelopes, addresses added to envelopes, and a trip to the post office.  Yes, this means a ton of time is spent on actually assembling invitations, but that is the fun of my job. I love seeing a pile of finished invitations take shape as I keep making.

Of the three weddings, I attended two. The second wedding that involved the cut slots, I did not attend. They were strictly clients, who I would consider friends, especially after dog sitting their adorable little Chihuahua pup, Tootie, but I was not a guest.  Please note, I did not expect to be invited to that wedding.

The first wedding that I did attend, was in California. Temecula, California to be exact. It was directly in the desert and it was stunning. The couple, two very good friends of mine, asked me to do their wedding stationery the minute they got engaged. It spanned two countries: the US and Japan. They were in fact, one of the only people I skyped with while I was away. This wedding was the first I mentioned that I did all the pieces of the suite. It was breathtaking to be there for my two dear friends and not only share in their friendship and love, but be part of their day in more than one way.  When I sat at the table, across the pool from the married couple, and saw the menus, table cards, and escort cards, it was like a dream had come true. I know that sounds silly, but it was as if all of my love that transpired from my heart through my fingers and was surrounding their new beginning. That makes me sound like I’m full of myself, but I’m not. It’s actually quite a humbling feeling.

The second wedding, I did not attend, but I did check in with the couple two weeks before their wedding and they were overwhelmed, but excited. They told me they appreciated me checking in on them and would let me know how everything went. I look forward to hearing from them.

Finally, the third wedding, I attended. It was held October 26th, in gorgeous Lake George, New York. It was the wedding of my former roommate (I live alone now) and her then boyfriend, now husband. They are an amazing couple. My former roommate is in fact one of my favorite people ever.  The invitation process was particularly difficult for me because my former roommate isn’t your typical female. She’s a guys girl. She gets dressed up, but she is so far from Diva it is refreshing. I knew she wanted natural, but I wasn’t sure if she was going the formal or informal route. In the end, her wedding was stunning and the invitations I created for them, her husband had quite a bit to say about the paper, fit the day and evening to a T.

It was at this third wedding that I splurged. I was able to spend the weekend in a gorgeous room in a quaint and romantic bed and breakfast overlooking the Lake. I slept well, partied with dear friends, and got to see a part of New York that I had never seen as an adult. It was truly magical and the perfect way to end a year of work on weddings that stretched my creative ability, taught me something new (I learned about foiling!), and showed me just how much I love working on wedding stationery.

Below is a gallery of photos of the three different wedding invitations so you can see how different they all turned out to be. I also included a few photos from the two events I went to. I don’t take many pictures any more at weddings. I decided at the wedding in California that I wanted to just be in that moment. Photos would definitely help me remember the day and night, but they wouldn’t exactly take me back to how the moon looked, or how fascinating it was to see the peacocks moving about above and around us.

On a different note, things are picking up for me as of late and I’m really excited to see what 2014 brings. As a matter of fact, I’m hoping to do more than three wedding invitation sets next year. Maybe you’ll help me? If you know anyone looking for custom wedding stationery, please send them my way! More details on a program I am launching to acknowledge your help, soon…

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!

Introducing A Bunch of New!

I haven’t posted images of my work in a while. My flickr account I’m sure is hurting because it’s been a while since my last share, but alas, I have been working, tinkering,  and falling in love with paper. I swear every time I walk into a paper store, I end up leaving a little piece of my heart.

Why the drama?  Well because I can’t afford to buy all the paper I see in these shops! However, I can make a note of it and figure out how to design products with that paper, potentially for a custom project. Yeah!

Because of this iphone paper swatch I’ve creating for paper that I can’t purchase, but want to remember, I find myself even more in love with paper and the potential of paper even more.  From the  textures, colors,  and types to the designs – some sheets have holes or fibers, others have glitter – I love them all!  Some paper is actual cloth! There is no limit to the eye catching elements of paper and I find myself constantly looking for ways to integrate them into my work and in other projects as well.

Actually, this week, I’ll be making my debut as a guest blogger on a friend and fellow social stationer’s blog and I’ll be talking about paper. Yay! When the day comes (Thursday), I’ll be sure to post here where you can go to find the blog there.

Until then, you’ll have to just feast your eyes on my latest designs that I’ve put up for sale on Etsy this week:

Black and Gold Flowers Layered Wedding Invitation with Lined Envelopes

Red and Cream Flowers Layered Wedding Invitation with Lined Envelopes
Spring Daisies Layered Wedding Invitation with Lined Envelopes
Spring Cherry Blossom Layered Wedding Invitation with Lined Envelopes

All four of these designs are samples of what will be available in the soon-to-be-completed S2 Stationery and Design “Look Book” that I’ve talked about the past few weeks.  In fact, their creation was my inspiration for the book itself.

Until the next three designs are ready for sneak peeks, you’re just going to have to let your imagine run.