Posts tagged team
Stationery, Not Stationary: Michelle's First Year!
My first inking and letterpress experience!!! I had Molly and Sara put their signatures on it as it was a full team effort with design, setting, and inking.

My first inking and letterpress experience!!! I had Molly and Sara put their signatures on it as it was a full team effort with design, setting, and inking.

Trying out some product staging for social media… anyone remember this? It was such a mess upstairs, but I was having so much fun!

Trying out some product staging for social media… anyone remember this? It was such a mess upstairs, but I was having so much fun!

February window display plan (revised a few times, of course). My sketchbook was a bunch of scribbled pages that I hoped would come to life.

February window display plan (revised a few times, of course). My sketchbook was a bunch of scribbled pages that I hoped would come to life.

A colorful shipment of Lamy fountain pens! One of those lovely, left hand pinks became my new BFF in the letter writing game. Now I travel with it!

A colorful shipment of Lamy fountain pens! One of those lovely, left hand pinks became my new BFF in the letter writing game. Now I travel with it!

When your work comes home… clearly Sara is rubbing off on me and my intrigue with mailboxes has become a thing. I had to make my own!

When your work comes home… clearly Sara is rubbing off on me and my intrigue with mailboxes has become a thing. I had to make my own!

Remembering the worthiness of my feelings as a new shipment of meaningful products came in. I couldn’t have planned it better with my nail color. :D

Remembering the worthiness of my feelings as a new shipment of meaningful products came in. I couldn’t have planned it better with my nail color. :D

Making friends through snail mail and music! Yes, I was stoked. Yes I have amazing friends through working at C&Co. Community comes easy here.

Making friends through snail mail and music! Yes, I was stoked. Yes I have amazing friends through working at C&Co. Community comes easy here.

Sara’s window display skills are amazing, as well as her ability to make any moment fun!!! She brought in cookies and cocoa so we could decorate. <3

Sara’s window display skills are amazing, as well as her ability to make any moment fun!!! She brought in cookies and cocoa so we could decorate. <3

It’s Been A Year?!

August 2019 marks one year since I’ve been with the Constellation & Co. crew. I suppose it takes a moment of reflection to realize how much time has passed and how much I’ve grown into my role. I’ve told Molly several times recently that it feels as if we both started last month. I’m amazed how a year has just flown for the both of us. I mean, we started the same day, a very special detail to me as we’ve become friends!

When I got hired by Sara last year, it was divine providence. I was praying for my “what next” and apparently, so was she. It’s a much bigger story than that, but the process of finding my way into C&Co was way too perfect for me to take credit.

I’ve learned and experienced a lot in my first year and the best way I could think to summarize it was in images and some overarching themes (That’s a creative writer for you!). Here are a few of the things I’ve learned along my C&Co journey.

Building Stories

I’m a writer and an illustrator, so I’m not unfamiliar with being creative and telling stories, but working at C&Co has really given me the opportunity to help Sara tell the story of Constellation & Co. and expand upon my definition of what comprises storytelling. I’ve had a hand in planning and designing window displays, copy editing catalogs, co-creating content for YouTube, illustrating for cards, staging and sharing social imagery, and figuring out how to best display products. I’ve learned that the “voice” you use throughout your writing, vlogging, podcasting, displays, and even your storefront all need to communicate the same message. It’s your brand and your story and most importantly, it needs to be authentic!

Trying New Things

You’d think that with my role being so versatile and ever-evolving that I’d be more open to change, but I struggle with it! And sometimes, it’s in the smallest of ways. I’ve written another blog about how I got into stationery and what it was like for me growing up and writing letters. My perfectionism often got in the way and kept me from sending snail mail.

After watching Sara send letter after letter, I’ve finally developed my own habit of regular writing. But, it took some self-bribing! See, these beautiful, pastel Lamy fountain pens arrived one day and I kept looking at them. I told myself I didn’t need one, that I wouldn’t use it enough, etc…. Then, one day I just decided to stop making up reasons not to buy one, took the plunge, and picked one in pastel pink (I had banned pink for a long time; it’s come back as a new favorite.)! Since then, I’ve learned to really love writing letters and am grateful I made a change. :)

Also, I can’t forget to mention that I took the plunge and added a furry, snail mail helper to my family this year! He’s more interested in playing with the stationery than sending it (and chewing on my Lamy pen), but it’s a good reminder to take better care of where I store things. :D

Mental Health Awareness

Sara’s focus on mental health and being transparent about what she’s going through has really helped me become aware of the worthiness of my own feelings. There’s only so much time before someone working in a feelings-focused, brutally honest, card carrying shop has to come face to face with the reality of life and the feelings that come with it.

I can definitely say that I’m more self-aware and better at noticing and caring for my needs, being honestly vulnerable, and accepting of the fact that life is life and that we can use words to express and share what we’re going through with those around us. It’s how we build community. <3

Connecting with Community

This year, I’ve discovered what it means to be part of a community. Sara has built friendships through Card Club, the Puget Sound Correspondence Society, the Snail Mail Superstar community, etc.… and I’ve been privileged to jump in and become part of communities she’s already formed!

I’ve received supportive snail mail from folks near and far and had the opportunity to make my own friends in shop, both coworkers and shop patrons alike! I am so pleased to see how joining C&Co has given me opportunities to grow over this past year and experience the joy of friendship and community in new ways.

P.S. Thanks for the snail mail, friends!!!

Never Stationary

Looking back over this year, I can see I’ve made progress and overcome my fear of remaining stationary by diving into creative learnings, developing a stronger willingness to try new things, and by taking time to invest in myself as well as in my community. New things can be hard, especially for me, but joining the C&Co crew has opened me up to what I’m capable of and what good can come from being willing to trust that God has a good plan for me through change!

Thanks to Sara, Molly, and everyone who has supported me over the last year through smiles, snail mail, and sweet conversation. :D You’re a special part of my stationery journey and I’m excited to see what the next year holds.

Yours truly,

Michelle

P.P.S. Please make sure to let Sara and Molly know that you’re now aware of their secret talents when you’re next in shop.

That time Sara put Molly and I on a postcard… I texted a few people to let them know how excited I was being so “official” as a C&amp;Co team member.

That time Sara put Molly and I on a postcard… I texted a few people to let them know how excited I was being so “official” as a C&Co team member.

If anyone came in shop this day, you’d have seen a pile of my childhood stationery all over a table. Sara asked me to create a thumbnail for our YouTube video on Lisa Frank stationery… have you seen the video?

If anyone came in shop this day, you’d have seen a pile of my childhood stationery all over a table. Sara asked me to create a thumbnail for our YouTube video on Lisa Frank stationery… have you seen the video?

The February (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day) window display for C &amp; Co that I planned and thankfully, came out so nicely. Sara’s added vision made it pop.

The February (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day) window display for C & Co that I planned and thankfully, came out so nicely. Sara’s added vision made it pop.

Shameless kitten plug… this was the day that Sara and Molly got to meet the little guy. I had been bringing home empty envelope boxes for him to play in!

Shameless kitten plug… this was the day that Sara and Molly got to meet the little guy. I had been bringing home empty envelope boxes for him to play in!

My furry child helping “stamp” the mail. He’s much, much bigger now as he grows so fast (and apparently, ragdolls can get huge), but he still chews on my Lamy pen and is into everything paper… Gotta watch that one.

My furry child helping “stamp” the mail. He’s much, much bigger now as he grows so fast (and apparently, ragdolls can get huge), but he still chews on my Lamy pen and is into everything paper… Gotta watch that one.

So many others have been part of my C&amp;Co journey, but this “weekday” crew has had a big impact on my first year. Of course, I had to draw us!

So many others have been part of my C&Co journey, but this “weekday” crew has had a big impact on my first year. Of course, I had to draw us!

Molly and I (conveniently, not pictured. :D) having our regular, team french fry meeting. Sara couldn’t make it, but Molly posed so she could enjoy it vicariously via photo. Community thrives!

Molly and I (conveniently, not pictured. :D) having our regular, team french fry meeting. Sara couldn’t make it, but Molly posed so she could enjoy it vicariously via photo. Community thrives!

That time I convinced Molly to do a dance number in shop. It was wonderful. Did you guys know she can sing and by sing, I mean sing well???

That time I convinced Molly to do a dance number in shop. It was wonderful. Did you guys know she can sing and by sing, I mean sing well???

Molly's First Year at C&Co
Trying my hand at working with Heidi. She’s temperamental sometimes, but she’s a great coworker when it comes to getting the job done. Here, I’m printing some of our snarky, honest notepads, likely for the first time ever.        Below, you can see one of the first cards I had a hand in creating around the time when I first started in 2018.

Trying my hand at working with Heidi. She’s temperamental sometimes, but she’s a great coworker when it comes to getting the job done. Here, I’m printing some of our snarky, honest notepads, likely for the first time ever.

Below, you can see one of the first cards I had a hand in creating around the time when I first started in 2018.

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Hello friends,

Your friendly neighborhood printer here. It’s officially been a year since I responded to Sara’s “help wanted” post on Instagram (The wonders of social media, am I right?) and I, like Michelle, have been thinking a lot about everything I’ve learned in the past 12 months. 

I’ve obviously grown a lot as a printer - I tackled and conquered Heidi (our feisty Heidelberg windmill and the “baby” of our three presses), I’ve had the opportunity to design a couple cards for the shop, and have enjoyed perfecting the card making process from start to finish (Literally, from taking the parent sheets of paper out of the box to packaging them to send to all of you.). But, I think being a part of this team has taught me something much more valuable, because what I’ve taken away most out of the last year is the importance of connecting with people. 

Constellation & Co is built on making connections. It has made a business of keeping snail mail and the sentimental, written word alive because Sara values the connection that it drives and the ties that it has the power to make and keep. Snail mail is not the only way we connect, though. I look at snail mail as just a space keeper for whatever you’re interested in that connects you to other people. Insert your hobby here, and that’s where you’re going to find your people. For me and this job, and for me and Sara, the connection was letterpress printing. 

I was one point of connection away from never seeing Sara’s post and never getting this job. Although the letterpress community is small, I hadn’t been a member of it for very long and I hadn’t yet discovered Constellation & Co. I had, however, just been in New York at a Book Arts summer camp of sorts and had made several great friends there, one of whom followed Sara on Instagram. She saw the post, knew I lived near Seattle, and tagged me. The rest is history. I couldn’t type an email to Sara fast enough, with a resume and short note about myself (all while trying to sound cool and totally not desperate). But, I was desperate. Not only for a job - which, I totally was - but desperate for a connection. A connection with someone who spoke the language of letterpress, someone I could learn from, and an environment I could grow in and continue to connect with fellow lovers of 100-year-old printing presses. 

That’s all any of us really want, right? As I print in front of a giant window, I am able to do a lot of people watching. My favorite scenario to watch play out are the people that wander upon the shop by mistake, but do a double take as they catch a glimpse of the presses through the window and immediately make a quick dash for the door. I can tell they’re coming right for me. I can tell they’re a printer, or that they took letterpress printing in high school or college, or that their dad had a print shop in their basement. We have an instant connection, and for a few minutes we are speaking the same language. 

I’m grateful for the friends and opportunities that this job and this past year has given me and I’m more excited then ever to see what the next one will bring. 

Molly

Interview: Suzi
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I have the distinct pleasure of working with my mom here at Constellation & Co. She’s been with us every step of the way, making sure our “books” are well tended.

When my family moved to Washington state from Florida, it was an easy choice to bring her into the office. I’m really lucky to get to spend this much time with my mom. She’s organized, professional, and fun to be around. And if someone says, “your mother doesn’t work here,” I can say: “mine does!” (This really happened once.) Today's interview is with our mom-ccountant and bookkeeper, Suzi Mantle!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I started out as bookkeeper 3,000 miles away in Florida.  We moved to Washington 2 years ago and I continued working as bookkeeper on a monthly basis.  This past year I have taken on an additional roles setting up and maintaining raw, in-process and finished good inventories.  I also help maintain the Etsy store as well as package and ship product for both retail and wholesale customers.

Q: What is the craziest question or conundrum you’ve run into while working for Constellation?
My biggest challenge while working for Constellation was morphing from mom to employee.  It was difficult at first leaving “mom” at home and showing up as “employee.”  It has been a good transition to help let Sara go as child and accept her as an independent grown-up!  I am thrilled to be working with her.  It is allowing me to watch her business grow and I am proud to take an active part in helping her along the way to success.

Q:  You’ve been a small business bookkeeper for almost 30 years - how do you feel those skills help with your job now, and what new skills are you learning?
Having grown our own business from the ground up when we were in our 20s, I knew how important having a solid bookkeeping system was.  I also brought with me solid payroll and payroll tax, sales tax, business tax, and income tax experience.  The new skills I am acquiring all have to do with tech and computer stuff - you can teach an old dog new tricks, it just might take a while!

Q:  Tell us your #1 piece of advice for starting a small business (from a bookkeeper’s point of view).
The number one investment should be a good accounting software program.  Most today are very easy to use even if you have no bookkeeping experience. I cannot stress enough - keep all your receipts and organize them from the beginning.  Enter them in your accounting program on a weekly if not daily basis.  Throwing them in a box to handle once a month or year will be a giant headache.  You can’t run a successful business if you don’t know where your money is coming from and where it is going to.

Q:  Tell me about moving from Florida to Washington State.  How’s that transition been for you?
We came out to Washington in 2010 to visit Sara and Brad and fell in love with the area.  During that visit, we reconnected as family.  After we went back to Florida, we knew that we wanted to be closer to them and luckily they felt the same way!  We put our business up for sale In January and to our surprise it sold and closed in September.  We sold our house and packed up our belongings and before we knew it, we were starting a new year, 2012, in a very different climate!   We settled an hour from Sara & Brad not wanting to intrude on their day to day lives not knowing that a year later I would be driving that hour into Seattle several times a week to help out in the day to day at Constellation & Co.   I love the fall leaves, the glorious awakening of the flowers in spring, and summer weather cool enough to enjoy the out of doors.   I am adapting to the winter chill and looking forward to our new pellet stove this year!

Q:  What’s your favorite place to eat in Seattle?
I love Delicatus - they have such yummy sandwiches (The Californian is my favorite), the staff is so nice, and love reading all the cool and funny quotes around the walls.   The second favorite is Cow Chip Cookies - who doesn’t love a warm cookie fresh out of the oven.

Q: What’s your favorite place to shop in Seattle?
I don’t usually have a chance to shop while I’m here in the city unless you count the post office which I frequent to ship out our wonderful products!  I enjoy walking in the city to the post office.

(A quick, practical addendum: We use Quickbooks for bookkeeping and Square for credit card processing. We ship using Etsy's in site tools and print labels on our new Dymo 4x6 label printer.)

Interview: Holly
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Our awesome photographer Dorothy stopped by the studio a few weeks ago to take our first official staff photos!

We've been through some transition this year (and lots of learning), so I thought this would be a great time to ask our lovely staff some questions for the blog - and let you get to know them! Our first interview is with Holly Power, my administrative assistant. Enjoy!

Q: What is your role at Constellation?
I get to field all incoming estimate requests, put together quotes, and set up client meetings. Essentially I'm the first "face" that new clients see. I also get to do some fun odd jobs that need doing! Sometimes I write snippets of copy, help upkeep the Etsy store, look for new shops that might be interested in carrying our products, etc...!

Q: What's the most common question you receive? Most people are looking for a quote for wedding invitations. Recently, I've had a lot of folks asking about the awesome book invitations from David and Micaline's wedding. Storybook weddings are a fun trend right now and a lot of people are really responding to that particular piece.

Q: You were a Literature major in college - how do you feel those skills help with your job now?
I wrote and read a TON in college, so I'm pretty good at coming up with words! For the most part, I enjoy the process of client communication, because I love using the right words to connect with people. A lot of my classroom time in college just looked like an open ended discussion about whatever material we were covering at the time. I learned a lot about choosing my words carefully to convey my point of view and I feel like I get to use that skill when answering client questions.

Q: Tell me about working remotely, being at home with your son. How's that transition been for you? What things do you love and what things are hard?
The transition was hard at first, but I am learning to really enjoy and cherish it. I love being able to work while Levi naps and then play with him while he's awake. A big challenge for me is in planning my day. If I don't use the time that he is napping wisely, my day quickly gets away from me without having met a lot of my goals. Or there are days where I am counting on getting certain things done and Levi decides not to sleep much at all that day. I'm learning a lot about planning my life in pencil! It's important to me that there is a plan in place, but just as important (for my sanity and my son's joy) that I can be flexible when my plans don't work out.

Q: What's your favorite place to eat in Seattle (and why)?
That's a hard one because there are so many tasty places to eat here and it changes depending on my mood! Josh (my husband) and I have really been enjoying Billy Beach recently, which is a super delish sushi place in Ballard. They have an awesome happy hour so we can stuff ourselves on a budget. We don't get a ton of date nights with a new little one, so we're trying to make each one count by finding and trying new places more often!

Q: What's your favorite place to shop in Seattle (and why)?
I really like going to University Village in the U District. Parking is free and it's perfect for aimless wandering and window shopping and I love the open air. It's also really lovely at Christmas when all the trees are full of lights. Wrestling my baby boy in and out of my two-door rabbit wherever I go makes a no-hassle free parking garage a win in my book!

Our First Constellation Baby Shower!
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Hello friends! This weekend I had the pleasure of throwing a baby shower for my best friend (and administrative assistant) Holly!

I had a ton of fun organizing the party and pulling together all the details. The idea was to get dressed up and have a fun & classy "mocktail" party for the ladies. I stuck to a palette of classic yellow & gray for the party (the colors Holly chose for the baby's bedding) so she can use some of the decorations for the baby's alcove! (More to come on that later, Holly has a fun blog post planned.) Check out my Pinterest inspiration board to see how I started planning, and click "continue reading" for lots of photos of how the party turned out!

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Hand Lettering by Rosie of Songbird Paperie & Washi Tape by Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy

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Delicious Earl Gray & Lemon Cupcakes from Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co.

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Yummy mocktail recipes: here, here, and here.

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We picked up flowers from our local grocery stores, and stuck to a white & yellow palette to keep things cohesive. Our friend Lindsey did the beautiful arrangements!

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Paper straws by Less Ordinary Designs on Etsy

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We foil stamped the napkins in house with our vintage Howard Imprinting Machine. We've been doing a bunch of foil stamping lately, more to come on that soon!

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Holly with her new Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bag!