Posts in Community
Snail Mail Envelope Art Inspiration

Hi buddies! I’ve recently been enjoying adding images of creative mail art to my Snail Mail board on Pinterest. I especially enjoy envelope art - both art intended to go through the mail, and art added to envelopes after they’ve been sent and received.

According to Wikipedia, mail art (also known as postal art and correspondence art) is:

a populist artistic movement centered on sending small scale works through the postal service. It initially developed out of what eventually became Ray Johnson's New York Correspondence School in the 1950s and the Fluxus movement in the 1960s, though it has since developed into a global movement that continues to the present.”

Looking at all the beautiful pieces shared on Pinterest, I’m excited to share some of the inspiring envelopes I’ve received and added to my correspondence collection. While I appreciate and enjoy all snail mail, even in an unassuming white envelope, these envelopes all bring a little extra fun to the table. I like to imagine the mail carrier smiling when they slipped these into my mailbox!

Sent to me by Christina from Athens, Greece

Sent to me by Christina from Athens, Greece

Sent to me by Julienne from Illinois

Sent to me by Julienne from Illinois

Sent to me by Akasha from Washington State

Sent to me by Akasha from Washington State

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Rebecca from California

Sent to me by Rebecca from California

Sent to me by Shari from Washington State

Sent to me by Shari from Washington State

Sent to me by Rodja from Austria

Sent to me by Rodja from Austria

Sent to me by Chelsea from Seattle

Sent to me by Chelsea from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by Alex from Seattle

Sent to me by David from Colorado

Sent to me by David from Colorado

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Michelle from South Dakota

Sent to me by Michelle from South Dakota

Sent to me by Michele from Washington State

Sent to me by Michele from Washington State

Sent to me by Jon from Seattle

Sent to me by Jon from Seattle

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Sent to me by Kim from South Carolina

Letter Writing Retreat at Treehouse Point

For my final few videos of 2018 and to finish up the inaugural year of my YouTube channel, I checked something off my video-making bucket list! I took Mr. Snail Mail Superstar on an overnight adventure to one of my favorite places in the whole world, Treehouse Point. We stayed in the Treehouse called “Nest.” I used the quiet evening away for a mini letter writing retreat. I wrote 16 pieces of mail, addressed to two countries and nine US States. I also took some time to shoot some photos of my favorite cozy items from our brick & mortar!

Treehouse Point, located in a forest beside the Raging River in Issaquah, Washington is a rustic bed and breakfast, featuring six hand- crafted treehouses. It’s the perfect place to turn off technology, escape everyday stress, and enjoy the rejuvenating powers of the PNW. Treehouse craftsman, Pete Nelson and his wife, Judy, share a vision of connecting people through personal encounters with the trees and nature. You may recognize their names from the popular Animal Planet TV show, Treehouse Masters!

This video is Part 1 of 4 in a series! The other parts are linked below. In this segment, I’m leaving Seattle in the pouring rain, arriving at Treehouse Point, giving you a tour of the “Nest” treehouse and talking about the greeting card collaboration I did with the lovely folks from Treehouse Point.

In this segment, I’m opening my mail and reading reading some holiday cards and postcards that I’ve received recently.

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In this segment, I’m writing letters and cards with my favorite fountain pen and using my Snail Mail Superstar wax seal… all in a treehouse! I wanted this video to be a peaceful escape, so I didn’t include any clips of me talking (you’re welcome), and left all the great ASMR letter writing sounds in there. I hope you love it!

In this segment, I’m taking you with me on my morning walk around Treehouse Point to show you the other beautiful treehouses and listen to the roar of the Roaring River. I’m also sharing some thoughts on progress and milestones and reflecting on where my life was at 5 years ago, the last time I visited Treehouse Point.

Treehouse Point Cards
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This treehouse series has been produced in collaboration with our Washington State neighbors, Treehouse Point. Each 4bar card is letterpress printed by hand in 3 colors on a kraft card and is accompanied by a green envelope. Card is blank inside for your personal message. Available as single cards or as a boxed set of all 6 designs.

Treehouse:
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Northwest Is Best
from 5.00

This celebration of Northwest life is letterpress printed with hand-set lead type and an original vector illustration. Card front reads, “Northwest is Best” and the interior is blank for your message. 4bar kraft card with a green envelope.

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Treehouse Outtakes! For every video I make, there are a lot of weird moments you don't get to see. Here are a few of them. ;)

Meet the Team: Michelle!
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Q: Describe yourself in 6 words or less.
A: Do I have to grow up?

Q: What is your favorite thing about working at Constellation & Co.?
A: I love meeting people, interacting with people, encouraging people. I am a people person who loves to share life and have everyday heart-to-hearts with anyone willing to connect. Constellation & Co. is all about community and I'm 110% invested in that. 

*Warning: If you come into the shop and start me talking, I may not stop for awhile. Atticus, the finch, is your only buffer and way out. 

Anywho, come in and say hi! :) 

Q: What are you doing when you're not in the shop? (Other jobs, hobbies, etc.)
A: When I am not in the shop, I'm probably doing something with my church community. I LOVE my church family and am in a season where I get to pour heavily into it and get a lot in return. I'm not from here originally, so, to FINALLY have a group of people surrounding me, supporting me, praying for me... investing in my life after what felt like such a period of readjustment and isolation is just amazing. 

Something fun to know about me is that I'm an illustrator and writer by profession, so there's drawing, designing, book writing, etc. going on. Sometimes, though, I'm simply binge watching a foreign TV show so I can learn about another time period or culture. And of course, spending time with my fantastic husband. He's the best.

Q: What is your favorite place in Seattle? (Shops, restaurants, parks, etc.)
A: It's a toss up between Uwajimaya (The Kinokuniya Bookstore, you guys!!! Ah!) and Pike Place Market. I really enjoy being in market place environments where there are lots of colors, sounds, smells, and things to discover. I like finding cutesy stationery items, eating all the delicious snacks, and searching for the world's best teas (I do have a collection!). Also, how beautiful are the flowers are at Pike Place Market?

2017 Highlights
Our brand new " New Year's Blessing " card is available in the shop and online now!

Our brand new "New Year's Blessing" card is available in the shop and online now!

Happy New Year!

Thank you so much for supporting our little shop in 2017. You make our dreams come true. Before we march forward into the New Year, I'd like to share with you some highlights from the past 12 months.

In 2017, we...

  • Launched our Constellation & Co. Card Club subscription service
  • Started hosting Hand Lettering Workshops with Songbird Paperie
  • Sponsored an adult pub league soccer team that Sara played in
  • Became the first Sailor Pen stockist in WA state
  • Launched our Empathy, Kindness, Respect shirt with Cotton Bureau and raised over $3k for refugee aid
  • Hired our incredible new shop manager, Melissa
  • Celebrated with our talented letterpress printer, Brooke, as she graduated with a Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology
  • Welcomed new team members Brie, Lara and Beth
  • Hosted an awesome winter intern, Bryn
  • Sent off our beloved Meredith to pursue her photography career full time
  • Hosted a Pop-Up Shop with Gingiber
  • Listened to Sara talk about stationery business on the Proof to Product podcast
  • Sent Sara to Paper Camp+ and then made about 1,000,000 systems changes to the business and shop
  • Had our best craft fair weekend ever at the winter Renegade Craft Fair
  • Designed and printed quite a few new products, including: 37 cards, 8 notepads, and 2 enamel pins!

Conviction, Craftsmanship, Community

As a small business and as members of the community, we feel a serious responsibility to give back and support others. With your help, we donated over $4k in 2017! When you shop with us, your purchases make a difference. Here are the organizations and causes we supported in 2017.

Meet the Team: Our Winter Intern, Bryn!
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Q: Tell us about your internship!
Constellation & Co. was my first internship and it was so fun! It was awesome to be able to meet and connect with a group of people who are as passionate about art as I am. One of the best parts of my internship was the huge variety of things I got to do and learn about. I helped with the retail shop, which included opening and closing the shop on time, handling money, and helping out customers. I also got to learn about the business side, and how Constellation takes an idea and makes it into a card. I loved learning about the art of letterpress too and watching how each card gets created. I got to create a window design, help out with the catalogue, and design three of my own cards, which was super fun and a very special experience for me! 

Q: What is your favorite thing about interning at Constellation & Co.?
My favorite thing about interning at Constellation would have to be restocking the cards and making sure the shop looks nice. I love greeting cards and loved the process of packaging and pricing that made each card look beautiful. I also loved opening the shop first thing in the morning. Mornings represent new beginnings and a fresh start to me, and I loved prepping the shop for the busy day ahead. 

We had the pleasure of hosting a talented intern this Winter named Bryn! It's been a long time since we had an intern, but she was too special to pass up. She came to us with a passionate interest in greeting card design, a very unique artistic style, and an eagerness to learn. It's been a delight having her in the shop and showing her the ropes! She grew up in our beautiful neighborhood, Magnolia, so we knew it was meant to be. We're hoping (fingers crossed!) to see her again this summer! Here's what Bryn had to say about herself and her time with us:

Q: Describe yourself in 6 words or less.
Passionate, driven, optimistic, creative and adventurous! 

Q: What are you doing when you're not in the shop? (Other jobs, hobbies, etc.) 
When I’m not at the shop, I’m usually drawing! I love thinking up new characters to draw and creating backstories for them. I love going vintage shopping, too. Trove in Ballard is one of my favorite shops for unique and beautiful pieces. I love clothing that has a story behind it.

Q: What is your favorite place in Seattle? (Shops, restaurants, parks, etc.)
I have so many favorite places in Seattle, it’s so hard to pick just one! I love going to the Ballard Locks, especially in the summertime. I love seeing the huge ships sail slowly by, love to hear the thundering rush of water as it pours into the locks. It’s a place that is both peaceful and very busy. Most of all, I’ve always loved seeing the salmon jump out of the water! To me, the Locks is both ordinary and magical and embodies the uniqueness and the industry that we have here in Seattle.

 

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Small Business Saturday 2017
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Join us on Saturday, November 25 to shop small and celebrate the magic of small business!
We're so excited to celebrate with you! Here's what we have planned:

Open extended hours: 10am to 6pm!

Free stationery gift bag for everyone who stops by (as supplies last)!

10% Small Business Saturday discount for all in shop purchases!

Launch of our donation drive to benefit Treehouse
From Small Business Saturday until Christmas, we'll be accepting donations of new, warm shoes and socks for foster kids in Seattle. We'll be chipping in donations as well, so every purchase you make this holiday season will do some extra good! 

Unveiling of our new holiday window display!

Holiday snacks!

Fishermen's Fall Festival 2017
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This weekend we celebrated our shop's 3rd birthday with our 4th Fishermen's Fall Festival! Our first weekend open was the festival in 2014. It was a wonderful way to meet the neighbors and be welcomed to the Fishermen's Terminal community, and our team has loved the event ever since. For 3 years, I've served on the committee to help plan the event, designing the poster and t-shirts for each festival. 

This year's festival was blessed by the perfect Seattle weather, and was very well attended. We were busy in the shop all day, greeting familiar faces and new friends. I spent most of the day at the iron handpress, helping people pull commemorative prints for a donation to the Fishermen's Memorial. I had an awesome day getting inky, but I was also grateful for quick breaks in the sunshine to eat scallops, soak in the sun, admire the bluest skies you've ever seen, and snap these pictures. 

Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us this weekend. It is truly an honor and a joy to see our little brick & mortar grow and thrive these last 3 years. And if you couldn't make it out this time, we'll see you next year!

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My Reflections on S-Town

If you haven't listened to the S-Town podcast by the Serial and This American Life team, what the heck are you doing reading this blog post? Get thee to your podcast app and buckle up for an adventure.

If you have listened (and hopefully finished, though I'll avoid spoilers), you know why I'm still thinking about it. Here's my thesis statement:

Everyone has a story worth telling. Be it joyful or tragic, or likely a bit of both.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. What is a lot, you ask? I subscribe to and listen consistently to more than 50. I've tried hundreds. My friends ask me for reviews and recommendations. I love podcasts. The series' that are most memorable for me have a few things in common:

  • A story with many layers and interesting themes
  • Great audio quality, music, and effects
  • An approachable narrator or host
  • Rich human drama
  • Surprising twists and turns
  • A satisfying ending

For me, S-Town met these qualifications and exceeded all of my hopes. The Serial & This American Life team did something I was sure they could not achieve again. They set the bar for podcasts even higher. Serial changed the game. S-Town blasted off into orbit.

My first tweet about S-Town (about 15 minutes into the first episode) said this: "I adore this guy so far, with his giant garden maze and his rubix cubes." That sentiment never changed.

I've embarked upon my second listening of the 7 part series, and there are a few topics and quotes that especially stand out to me today. 

"I've been finding stuff out slowly over the years."

Tyler, one of the integral characters, says this about John, the protagonist. It's a simple statement, but it's poignant. That's the crux of relationships. You can't meet someone and figure them out in one conversation. People are beautifully and tragically complex. To really get to know someone, it takes years of shared experiences, conversations, and picking up on what goes unsaid. This podcast inspires me to dig deeper in my relationships. Ask more questions. Spend more time. Really listen and observe.

"Life is tedious and brief."

A quote on a sundial, a contemplation of the passing of time. In this season of my life, it speaks to me. We try to bounce between big events and major milestones and our memories don't hold onto the stuff in the middle. But our lives are made of the morning cups of coffee. The afternoons spent writing or looking out the window. The quiet evenings at home. Our lives are structured by doing dishes, washing loads of clothes, making mundane appointments. The time in between IS pretty tedious. But here's the truth - if we don't embrace the tedious, our lives WILL be brief. We can stack up all of the "big deal" moments on top of each other, and they won't reach all that high. If the exciting is all we count as living, our time will feel brief. I'm ready today to hold on tight to the tedious, and be grateful for the people I spend it with, in the place that I love.

What will I leave behind?

This may sound morbid. I don't mean it to be. But I'll die someday. We all will. If I was suddenly no longer here, what would I leave behind? What notebooks would my loved ones read to learn more about the details of my life story? What writing have I done that would share enough about who I am, to share what I've learned from the days of my life? I want to do enough with my days - not necessarily to achieve some cultural definition of success - but to honestly share the story of the beautiful and terrible in my life. To define my "worthwhile life." 

Today I purchased the beautiful score by Daniel Hart. I'm always looking for music to listen to while I write, and this fits the bill perfectly.

Next I'm planning to dig into John's "bedtime reading." The two short stories mentioned in the first episode are available to read online.

A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

S-Town will stick with me, as my favorite books, albums, films, and conversations have. Honest, human, emotionally resonant. I'm grateful that Brian Reed took the time to get to know John and share his story with us. I think we're all a little better for having known him. 

Card & Letter Writing Ideas!

Finding the perfect card is a great way to get inspired about sending mail. But even the best card ever has blank space inside for your message. Many people have told me that they just can't think of anything to say inside of a card. My goal with this particular post is to share as many writing prompts as I can think of, so you'll get inspired. Some will be helpful. Some will be ridiculous. Let's do this.

  • I love you.
  • I miss you.
  • I'm glad I met you.
  • We should hang out.
  • I'm sorry I said something stupid without thinking.
  • I'm grateful you were there for me on a hard day.
  • Something made me think of you the other day, and I wanted to share it with you.
  • I took a fun weekend trip and I wanted to tell you about it. (Just you, not Facebook! Don't you feel special?)
  • I found an incredible recipe recently and I want you to try it.
  • I just found out I'm pregnant and I know that will be hard for you so I'm writing you a letter instead of making you find out on Facebook or in public.
  • Remember that time we did ______ and it was so much fun?
  • We just bought a house and I want you to come try out our guest room.
  • I drew you a picture. It's bad, but hopefully it will make you laugh.
  • I found something in a magazine that I think will make you smile so I'm sending it to you.
  • I found an especially pretty fall leaf and you don't have fall leaves where you live, so I'm sharing it with you.
  • Here's a poem I like a lot.
  • Here's a naughty limerick.
  • Here's a weird haiku.
  • Here are some song lyrics that felt especially poignant.
  • I'm so sorry you had a miscarriage and I know people don't usually like to talk about it, but I wanted you to know that you are loved and I'm here for you.
  • Here's a polaroid photo I took with terrible lighting. I hope it makes you feel nostalgic.
  • I found this pin/patch/temporary tattoo/postage stamp/whatever flat thing and I hope you love it.
  • I don't know what to say in this situation, but I care about you so I'm sending you mail. 
  • I got a new phone number and I thought you'd like to know what it is and if I text you, you'll say: "new phone, who dis?"
  • Did you see that crazy thing that happened in the news? What is this world coming to?
  • I've always thought you were particularly sweet/kind/pretty/brave/intelligent/interesting/etc. and I never told you. So, today's the day.
  • I'm sorry I've been so busy and haven't responded to your texts. Let's plan time to be face to face.
  • I'm enjoying getting to know you! I thought I'd send you some silly questions so we can get to know each other better. 
  • I heard that you lost your job. Here's a gift card for groceries. 
  • I heard that you got a new job! Here's my best advice for starting a new job:
  • Remember that game we used to play when we were kids? I hope the memory makes you smile.
  • I watched a new tv show that I think you'll like. I'm telling you about it so we can geek out together.
  • I'm writing to tell you about the crazy weather we've had this season. Seriously, it's been nuts.
  • I've set a new goal for myself and I want to tell you about it so you can help keep me on track.
  • It was so nice to meet you at that party/event/bus stop/coffee shop/wedding/work meeting. I'd love to get coffee some time!
  • Something you said really hurt my feelings, and I'm writing you a letter because it's really hard to bring up in person.
  • I have an idea for a business/podcast/comic book/weekend trip and I'd love to run it past you to get some feedback.
  • I've noticed you're really good at finances/art/patience/cooking/whatever and I'd love it if you could take me under your wing.
  • Hello, I'm your secret admirer. You're great. Thought you should know.
  • Thanks for sending me a letter! I'm super bad at sending letters, but I want you to know that I appreciated it.
  • I heard you're taking on a new leadership role! I'd love to assist you however I can. 
  • I can't believe your kid is already ___ years old! It feels like yesterday they were a squishy little baby.
  • I can't believe we're ___ years old! It feels like yesterday we were squishy little college students.
  • I heard about your divorce. I felt like your ex never liked me. Let's be friends again!
  • Hello, I am an alien from outer space and I've heard that humans communicate using this method.
  • Scribble scribble scribble (Make your kid write inside the card.)
  • Woof! I am a dog! Hope you're well! (Pretend to be your dog. Also works with cats.
  • I was walking in the park the other day, and I had an epiphany...
  • This card is funny, huh? Okay, bye.
  • I just watched a crazy documentary that you HAVE to watch! Here's what it's called...
  • I heard this concept on a podcast that's really helped me. Here's what I've been thinking about...
  • I would like to cordially invite you to go to an upcoming concert/movie/play/live podcast/festival/etc with me!
  • Do you like me? Check yes or no.
  • I'm taking a break from social media for a little while, but I'm still here for you. FYI. :)
  • I got a fancy new pen and I am suddenly super inspired to write letters, so here we are.
  • I just saw Hamilton and now I'm writing sassy letters to everyone about politics because I want to be A.Ham when I grow up. Here's what I think of what's going on...
  • My teacher is making me write a letter for homework. *eyeroll* Here are several artist's renderings of popular emojis. 
  • I've written a love sonnet to coffee and I've decided to share it with you. This letter has been aged in coffee so it looks old timey. Are you not impressed?
  • Let's get married.
  • I'm writing this letter to your newborn baby. Please read it to them.
  • I'm writing this letter to your new puppy, please read it to them in barks. (Also works for cats.)
  • I've had several beers and am writing you a letter. Enjoy!
  • Dearest Resident, I don't know you but I'm sending you a letter anyway. How are you? Your house is nice. Have a good summer!
  • Write a letter using only quotes from 80's sitcoms.
  • Write a letter using only lyrics from broadway musicals.
  • Write a letter using only titles of movies.
  • Write a letter using only what you remember from high school Spanish.
  • Write a letter to your past self or future self.
  • Fellow sports fan, I'd like to tell about you about my favorite sports memory. What's yours?
  • A new season has begun! I'm writing to tell you my favorite things about this season.
  • I'm sorry the last letter I sent you was so ridiculous, I took some advice from this crazy stationery designer's blog and it was terrible advice.
April is National Card & Letter Writing Month!
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I'm going all in on National Card & Letter Writing Month this year. It's the perfect time to pen some words of friendship and love and brighten the mailboxes of my friends and family. I pulled out my box of correspondence today and was flooded with good memories and happy feelings. Weddings, baby showers, thank you's, apologies, holidays, you can do it's, I miss you's, hellos... so many beautiful words from so many beautiful people. I'm so grateful for these physical manifestations of love, and I'm excited to send some of my own this month. 

I'll be joining our friends at Pretty By Post in the #sendcardsspreadlove letter writing challenge, challenging you to send at least 4 cards/letters in April. (I'll be trying to send one every day, because I'm super backlogged on sending mail and apparently I can't do anything in moderation.)

I'll be using the hashtags #write_on and #sendcardsspreadlove on Instagram and Twitter. I'll be keeping you updated on my daily card & letter writing adventures, and I'll be doing some giveaways too! Join me and share some snail mail love with the people in your life! 

MORE Empathy, Kindness, and Respect!
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In January I designed a poster to carry in the Seattle Women's March. I'd been thinking for days about what to say on the poster. I had so many swirling thoughts and ideas. I wanted to show others that I care about them. I wanted to say that injustice isn't fine with me. I wanted words to aspire to. These are the three words I chose. They felt right at the time, and they've settled into my heart and life as goals for this year, and goals for myself.

EMPATHY: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

KINDNESS: The quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. 

RESPECT: A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. 

I don't do these things perfectly, but they're who I want to be. They're what I want for my family. They're what I want to show to others.

I felt good about this sentiment on a poster, but it's even better on shirts. We've partnered with Cotton Bureau to offer Empathy, Kindness, Respect shirts! After the first printing, 256 people are walking around the world with this message of love in action. Even better, we raised over $2k to donate to the International Rescue Committee and Refugee Women's Alliance, refugee aid organizations.

AND NOW THEY'RE BACK!

Preorders opened today, and will run until March 27, 2017 at 8:00pm (EDT). I personally invite you to partner with us to spread this positive message and show practical care for people who truly need it.

These shirts are super soft and the design is a really high quality screenprint. (The gray one is my personal favorite! Make sure to check out their sizing guide before you order - the blue shirt runs especially small.) This time around we've added infant and kid sizes! Here are the links:

ORDER ADULT SHIRTS!

 

ORDER BABY OR KID SHIRTS!

 

Celebrate our 2nd Shop Anniversary!

Join us for our 2nd shop anniversary at the 28th Annual Fishermen's Fall Festival! It's been a great two years, and we're excited to celebrate this milestone with you. Our shop's grand opening was the day of the Fishermen's Fall Festival 2 years ago. To read our recaps of the last two festivals, click here: 2014 and 2015

The Festival provides families with a fun and educational outing on the waterfront as well as an opportunity to learn more about seafood. Hands-on art projects with fishing themes, including wooden boat building, shell art, fish prints, face painting, and more are free for all children and admission to the Festival is free. 

If kid's activities aren't your thing, you might enjoy: 
Free ship canal tours
Salmon BBQ
Alaska scallop, crab and cod booths
Survival suit races
Live music & beer garden
Deadliest Catch Boat-f/v Brenna A with Sean Dwyer, newest Deadliest Catch Captain
Salmon Filet Challenge
Lutefisk Eating Contest

Proceeds from the activities within the Festival are donated to the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation to assist families of fishers lost at sea.

 

Saturday, September 24, 2016 from 11 am - 6 pm
Free: No admission fee!

We'll have the shop open 11am to 6pm, stocked full of nautical inspired and locally made goods to browse! We'll also have our historic 1895 iron handpress inked up and ready for letterpress demos. For a donation of your choice to the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial Foundation, we'll even let you pull prints to take home!

If you only make it out to the terminal once this year, this is the day to pick! In my humble opinion, the scallops alone are worth the trip. See you soon!

National Stationery Show 2016

We recently exhibited at the National Stationery Show in our first solo booth! (You can read the recap of our first NSS experience in 2014 here.)

We were inspired by Lucky Horse Press to try soft walls. We designed and built a simple, easily transportable booth that we can reuse for future trade shows. Since we're always going to be a cross-country plane ride from New York, we wanted to avoid shipping a crate back and forth if at all possible. We are really happy with how our booth turned out! Here's what we did.

Our friend Eli is a talented metalworker and he fabricated a beautiful aluminum frame for us. All of the pieces were 5ft long or shorter and fit into an army style duffel bag that we could check on the plane. The pieces fit together easily and are tightened into place with an allen wrench. All together, the frame poles weigh around 70lbs. We checked the connectors (another 15lbs) in another bag with our clothes to keep the weight low.

We purchased canvas drop cloths from Home Depot for the booth walls. I really wanted to use sail cloth (nautical!), but it turns out that sail cloth is super expensive. Drop cloths are huge and reasonably priced. One of the walls got a coat of paint for contrast underneath our wood logo sign. We sent the walls out to Turning Star for professional fire proofing. I hemmed the panels on my sewing machine at home. 

We used a simple grommet kit to apply grommets to the walls. I wanted to buy an expensive grommet press, but it actually didn't take all that long to do the grommets by hand. It's kind of fun and was a good pre-NSS stress reliever. 

We packed up our 6 checked bags, 2 carry ons, 2 backpacks, 1 car seat, 1 stroller, and 1 toddler and headed to the airport! Getting the baggage moved around was a giant pain, but it saved us a bunch of money on shipping a crate, and then we didn't have to wait for our crate to be returned at the end of the show. And also we don't have to store a crate. (Apparently I have a crate phobia.)

When you get to the show, this is what the booth looks like. Not so cute! We took two days for set-up, but we were out of the Javits Center by dinner time each night. We had a hotel very close by, which allowed us to carry suitcases back and forth as we needed them. While I'd like to have spent less on the hotel, the close proximity was really really nice.

We started out by hanging the cloth panels on the frame with zip ties very loosely, and then we tightened them evenly in all directions to get the panels as taut as we could. The 2 short sides were very smooth - the long side was a little more wavy. I kept reminding myself: "We're going for a natural, nautical look. It's supposed to be fabric." The perfectionist in me likes to argue, but our brand isn't polished perfection. It's honesty and groundedness - simplicity, natural elements and masculine energy. In my opinion, the booth fit our brand well. (Although it's easy to play the comparison game when you're looking down the aisle and other booths are fancier than the house you live in.)

Our beautiful logo sign was made by Bill Sayer - PPointCreates on Etsy. We hung the sign (and all the cards) with adhesive velcro dots from Uline. For the small letters and the line, we did velcro dot surgery and cut them down to smaller pieces. The sign stayed on the wall for the whole show. (Hooray!) The cards were a little more finicky. We used a handy box of straight pins to reinforce the cards that fell down. That's one of the benefits of fabric walls!

We splurged on furniture and rented some fun vintage pieces from Patina. It was really nice to round off the nautical theme with the furniture pieces, and they were super handy to have. Sitting and storage are important! We used FJÄLLA boxes from IKEA to hide all of our extra booth stuff. Our flooring was navy blue carpet tiles from Flor. Our lighting was simple clip lamps from Home Depot that we painted gold. We picked super high lumen LED lightbulbs that kept the booth bright without being hot.

We wanted a booth that was practical to transport, fit our brand, and didn't break the bank. All of the elements for the booth definitely added up in price, but nearly everything can be reused again for future shows. As much time and planning as the booth takes, in the end it's all about the product. We released 20+ new cards and a series of A to Z Signal Flag postcards that won a Best New Product award in the Eco Chic category!

It's a HUGE honor to win an award like this, and we are so grateful. It can be hard to quantify the benefits of doing a major trade show with the time spent planning, financial investment, travel time and costs, etc. Getting recognition like this certainly makes it easier to see the fruit of all that hard work. (I'm still staring at the award on my desk like I don't really believe it happened.)

We're still tired from the trip, but we're also still glowing a little bit. I LOVE meeting our buyers face to face - hearing their stories, sharing my inspiration for each product, seeing what they order and getting to hear why. It's all exciting and inspiring and it gives me new fuel for the fire. Thanks for the memories, New York! Until next time...