Today’s Maker Spotlight features a creative Chicago partnership that has been flourishing since 2003! Donovan and Kathy run two successful ventures that are interwoven into one stationery super-business: 16 Sparrows and the Letter Writers Alliance (both will be joining us for our Chicago Winter Market). 16 Sparrows was their original business, and the idea for the Letter Writers Alliance came from their experiences selling their work at Renegade!
“We’d be vending at fairs, and people kept picking up our stationery, stating that they were the only ones who wrote letters anymore. A light bulb just went off for us: what if we could connect these people who participate in this solitary art so they don’t feel like the only ones? That is when we decided to start the L.W.A., creating what we see as a specialized branch of 16 Sparrows. While they both revolve around mail and letters, 16 Sparrows is for the cynical paper lover who needs unique greeting cards and the L.W.A. is geared toward letter writers and mail artists.”
Membership to the Alliance gets you a fancy badge, member card, and access to the online clubhouse where you gain access to free downloads, new pen pals, and exclusive L.W.A. goods. The L.W.A. uses the Internet to corral letter lovers and inspire them to step away from the computer and sit down with a pen and paper. Their newest letter writing programs, Initiative Response and I.R. Ops, involve completing postal tasks for award badges and honorary titles. They also host letter writing socials and teach workshops, which are free and open to the public, members and non-members alike.
Kathy and Donovan have been working on the business for ten years now, so they’ve become attuned to the best ways of collaborating on projects. Donovan shares this insight:
“Kathy works on the tech end and I’m more the production end, but we both do a little bit of everything. Both of us create designs for the shops. If one of us has an idea for a product, then the other is the art director. We live in Chicago, Illinois and are lucky enough to live about a 5 minute walk apart. This makes our collaboration and production easier on our schedules.”
Looking to write more letters this holiday season? Letter Writers Alliance and 16 Sparrows will be bringing their stationery and snail mail supplies to Renegade’s Winter Market in Chicago, December 7th and 8th at the Pulaski Park Fieldhouse. You can follow the Letter Writers Alliance on Twitter, and follow both Kathy and Donovan on Instagram to see what they’re creating during the run up to our Chicago fair!