“Embrace change. Never say your customers won’t like something new. Get out there and see the new looks and new designers, and keep figuring it out.”
Hannah Rodewald, NSS attendee and owner of The Pleasure of Your Company, located in Lutherville, MD
Congratulations to the National Stationery Show on 70 years! We are halfway there at 35, and it’s been quite a ride – 4 store moves, expanding and downsizing, great years and scary years, an ever-changing industry, and best of all, wonderful relationships with customers and vendors who will always be friends.
Everyone talks about how in the 2000’s, the internet has changed everything, but looking back, each decade has had dramatic changes.
In the 1980’s, we started to have the ability to produce personalized invitations and stationery in the store. It sounds crazy that in-store computerized printing is actually not all that old. We started with using the Howard Imprinting machine to print Paper by the Pound stationery, Mara Mi and Frances Meyer birth announcements, and the very few imprintables that were out there. Then Inscribe changed our business and we could do more in-house. And the number of companies selling imprintables dramatically increased. But it wasn’t easy – when we needed software, my husband still had to write MS-DOS programs.
In the 1990’s, the Martha Stewart Weddings magazine totally changed the wedding industry. Weddings had been cookie-cutter affairs where tradition dictated everything from the venue to the invitations, which were almost always white or ecru folded sheets, engraved or thermography printed in black ink. Then Martha Stewart Weddings came along with the idea that your wedding could be interesting, dramatic, fun, personalized and exactly what you wanted it to be. It paved the way for an Anna Griffin, Envelopments, Claudia Calhoun – colored papers, minimalist typesetting, different shapes and sizes, ribbons and vellum, patterns and color. And we were fortunate that the MSW staff has always loved paper and showed programs, menus, place cards, favors, and other paper items, so each wedding ordered more items and that really boosted our sales. We loved the variety of looks, although we joked for years that we needed smelling salts available for the mothers who fainted when they saw what their daughters were ordering.
And then the 2000’s, which brought the internet, but also a strong throwback to the past with letterpress and foil printing. And I think that the very classic looks, with a twist that personalizes it, are the strongest trends right now. I love everything new, but for me the LBD of stationery will always be a Crane card with a beautiful engraved monogram.
I guess the lesson is – embrace change, never say your customers won’t like something new, get out there and see the new looks and new designers, and keep figuring it out.