Posts tagged update
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

Mega Update for Almost Spring
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Hello friends, it's been awhile. It's about time for a giant update, so here goes!

National Stationery Show
I've been busy preparing for NSS, but it's been more of a fun-busy than a stressed-busy. It's been the perfect opportunity to design and print all new branded pieces, dream up crazy giveaways, and focus on who we are as a company. It's been torture not to Instagram/tweet/blog/shout from the rooftops about the fun new things I've been working on. But I'm determined to keep things secret until just before the show!

We're really excited to be back in New York for the show. It's a special city, and one I'm happy to have a yearly excuse to visit. I don't have too many expectations for the show (or at least I'm trying not to), but we're setting a small new stockist goal and planning to celebrate it with a nice dinner. Any suggestions for where we should go?

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Paper Camp
I know I gushed about it in the Fall, but I want to reiterate how important Paper Camp and the Tradeshow Bootcamp community have been in this preparation season. I was a mess thinking about NSS before Paper Camp, but with my binder, my new friends, and the massive load of knowledge I stuffed into my carry-on when coming home... I'm feeling confident and excited. Katie, the founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp, is offering a full scholarship to the next Paper Camp this September in Los Angeles! You can apply here. Don't hesitate, just do it. You won't regret it!

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SideTour
We've done five SideTour workshops so far, and they have been absolutely wonderful. It's a joy to welcome new friends into the studio, share my knowledge and see their eyes light up at the chance to create. I learned a ton about printing history in preparation, and can now share 500+ years of history from memory (with a few notes here and there). Feel free to quiz me! It's been really fun to let my nerd flag fly.

One of the biggest surprises from the SideTour workshops have been the kids. We've had a few kids in the 10-14 age group attend, and their enthusiasm is incredible. It's really gotten me thinking. I love teaching, love kids, and love seeing the craft of hand printing passed on to the next generation. Still brainstorming on what to do with all of that, but it's on my mind.

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Looking For Help
I'm looking for a freelance letterpress printer to add to the family. I do all our printing in-house, and I adore it. But the downside of being 100% hand-fed and treadle-operated is that sometimes things get busy and I am 100% exhausted. It would be incredibly helpful to have someone to bring in during busy seasons. It's a paid (hourly) position in our Pioneer Square, Seattle studio. I'm looking for someone who is experienced on platen presses, flexible for scheduling and fun to be around. Please pass this info along to anyone you think may be interested. Please send a resume & print samples to hello@constellationco.com. I'm not looking for an intern at the moment, so experienced applicants only please!

March Update
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I've been hard at work on our new card line (yay!), and i'm having a blast. It's been really necessary to get out from behind the computer to get the creative mojo going.

I've been doing some copywriting and research from home (with cats), client design work at coffee shops, walking and thinking in the sunshine, and lots of play in the studio. This new line is truly a love letter to life, and I couldn't be happier with where it's headed. I don't want to spoil the big launch, so it'll stay pretty secret - but I'm excited to show you some strategic sneak peeks as we go along.

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It's been really important lately to keep reminding myself what my priorities are for life and for Constellation. Urgent things pop up, and opportunities present themselves that will completely derail things if I let them. I'm NOT Superwoman, and I can't do everything. Saying no is really important asset. So i've been doing my best to remember where i'm headed, what I want to be doing, and what things are priority one. When my priorities are in order, life really does feel sweeter.

Lots going on, and not enough time to blog (as usual), but you can keep up with me on Instagram or Twitter if you're so inclined.

Where ya been, Sara?
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So, things got a bit insane around here after my St. Louis trip. While I was gone, work ground to a halt for a week and has been backed up ever since (nearly a month!) No complaints here, busy = business!

We've been on press every day for weeks, and have quite a few new client projects in the works. We've hired a lovely and talented printmaker named Cherish to help out around the shop  and assigned the beautiful and organized Holly to answering e-mails and setting up client meetings (she also makes wreaths). With our powers combined, work has continued on in a rapid pace and won't stop next time i'm out of town! (Which will be in July for Renegade Craft Fair & San Francisco adventure, which i'm currently planning and very excited about!)

Crazy busy Sara tends to mean no blog entries. But I've got lots of updates planning and coming soon! In the meantime, here's a greatest hits line-up of our recent design/print work:

[Tiny Newspaper for the '57 Biscayne Open House]

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