Design duo Isabel and Kate believe that letter writing is a mindful act, so they created Of Note Stationers as a way to keep people connected by deepening their relationships through the handwritten word. Kate and Isabel’s kind spirits and care is present in each and every card design they create, making your written letter all the more special. Read more about the Massuchusetts design studio below.
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
So glad you asked! We were super intentional about our choice of Of Note assuming that many people would ask us, “why Of Note,” but perhaps because it is a phrase people know well, we never get to answer this question.
Since you asked, here goes:
Leading up to the launch of our business in September of 2014 (at Renegade Brooklyn with Shan Man Clay Co) were many months of figuring out who we wanted to be and how we wanted to contribute the stationery world. In that time we established that it was the “just because” niche of the greeting card industry that captivated us. Within that niche, it was the small yet significant moments of reaching out to loved ones that we hoped to encourage.
In order to convey this we sought a name that captured moments:
Each was special in and of itself and worth celebrating.
During a brainstorm session Of Note was suggested. Of Note. Something worth noting. Something worthy of note.
What we especially loved about the phrase Of Note was the expected use of it for something extraordinary. We believed the opposite, that taking a moment to take note was notable in and of itself. The idea that one took a second to slow down, step out of his/her day to write, to reach out, and to share, was “Of Note.”
Why did you start working in this particular craft?
Our journey as Of Note Stationers began first as @IsabelandKate:
“Two friends. Paper lovers. Budding stationery designers. Sending more mail, making people smile, and seeing what happens.”
Yep, that was our @IsabelandKate Instagram bio. We started this account as a hobby, a creative outlet, and a way to brighten people’s days. We both have a long history of note giving and sending, and wanted to make our commitment to doing so official.
This project encouraged us to not only reach out to friends we normally kept in touch with via text message or email, but also to friends that we had lost touch with due to moving away from home or graduating from college. With each note we sent out and received in return, we could feel each of our communities reviving and our relationships within these communities deepening. We experienced first hand the power of the handwritten word and wanted to be a part of sharing that with the world.
What do you love most about letterpress?
We love the tactile result of letterpress printing. On each card you can feel the impression of the letters or illustrations into the paper. Being able to run your fingers across the impressions adds to the hands on experience of pulling out a card, grabbing a pen, and writing a note.
Just as letter writing is analogue, so too is letterpress printing, a method invented in the 1400s that could efficiently produce books and eventually newspapers. We like to honor that history, that slower process, and now art form, by using this method for our stationery.
What has been your proudest moment since creating your business?
One of our proudest moments to-date was creating advocacy postcards that anyone can use to raise their voice and share their opinion about today’s political climate. In early February we teamed up with Space Boston to host a Write-In event. For this event we printed 200 postcards. Around 50 or so people came to the event and every single postcard was written on and sent out into the world. At the very least it was cathartic for all involved and that felt phenomenal.
A favorite moment that we are lucky enough to enjoy on a regular basis is seeing people’s reactions to our designs at craft fairs like Renegade. It is inspiring to have conversations about connection and communication via letters with customers who find us at markets. Don’t be shy, come say hi!
What valuable experience did you have before starting your business?
Isabel had a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Mass Art where she studied Industrial Design and a couple of years working in the industry under her belt. Kate had a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree from Kenyon College and a few years of teaching special education under her belt.
Beyond our learned skills in design and communication respectively, we had energy, a naivete about the challenges of running a small business, a commitment to learning the ropes, and a hope that we could make it work.
Lastly we had the privilege of being surrounded by a small community of friends and family who were taking the risk of making a living off of their craft, Bessie Anderson of B. Impressed, Shannon Wallack of Shan Man Clay Co.. Their bravery and support encouraged us to take the leap.
What is the most important thing you do daily for your business?
What a fabulous question. For us as a duo, I think the most important thing is checking in with each other, dividing and conquering tasks, brainstorming together, and ultimately supporting each other as friends as well.
Are there any exciting projects you have lined up for the future?
Our most recent exciting project was getting Kate married. Her wedding was on June 17th so that was a big, joyous, to-do. Now that we have made it out the other side we are looking forward to sharing our newest releases at Renegade Boston. From there we hope to finally get our monthly letter writing events going.
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
Kate: Writing letters! My wedding absolutely took over but we are attempting another letter writing challenge #52loveletters and #loveletteraweek with @DevotedDiarist. In addition to letter writing,I love going to yoga, listening to podcasts (On Being, A Few Things, Fresh Air, Healers, and How I Built This), and reading.
Isabel: Antiquing! I love to go in search of paper ephemera at my local antique shops/flea markets and dream up designs inspired by these unique finds. There is something truly magical about holding up a postcard from the 20’s or 30’s handwritten with exceptional script that was so typical of the era. The best finds, however, are those vintage but unused pieces. I really enjoy pairing them to the right envelope and sending them out to friends and family.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
Kate: Calligraphy! My grandfather calligraphed in his free-time and I am kicking myself that I didn’t pay more attention when I was young.
Isabel: Ceramics! While I took intro to wheel throwing at MassArt sophomore year, I certainly didn’t master it. I have great friends who are talented ceramicists and they make it seem so easy. That being said, I know how hard it is to produce a good bowl or cup. My pieces were never taller than a couple inches ;).
What is your favorite part of your studio?
I think the best part of our studio/workspace is that it is now separate from our homes. It took a move out of the city to be able to afford a space, but our line of cards continues to grow so it’s great to have a space that matches that expansion.
Additionally, even though it may seem messy to others, I think we also both secretly love seeing our work table filled with our product. It’s wonderful to see something we’ve created get packed up and sent out into the world.
What do you enjoy most about your craft and entrepreneurship?
Sharing the entrepreneurship with each other (we could not do it alone) and our craft with the world. Our day is made when someone says, “I have no occasion to use this card, but want to buy it so that I am encouraged to reach out in a meaningful way.”