I thought I’d kick off the week by introducing you to another fabulous colleague of mine in the wedding industry – Ruth Bleakley of Concertina Press! Ruth’s invitations and stationary are nautical, whimsical, vintage and adventurous all at the same time. I love the depth of the colors she achieves, and the way her collections range from classic beach grass to spunky cuttlefish! Ruth herself is an amazing woman who lives right nearby in Falmouth, MA. We met for coffee recently, and it felt like we could chatter and giggle the entire day away in that one spot!
(Q) What is your one big indulgence right now?
I allow myself a full, un-rushed hour for lunch and lately my indulgence has been watching Project Runway on DVD while I sit down to a nice big bowl of pasta or if I’m feeling decadent, smoked salmon and Chevre on a toasted english muffin – the show helps keep my creative wheels spinning to keep me going into the afternoon.
(Q) What led you to stationery design?
I was a Studio Art major in college, concentrating in bookbinding of all things – after school I began selling my books both online and at craft shows around Falmouth. Last year I started teaching bookbinding classes and they’ve been successful as well – through a connection in one of my classes, I got a job at a local stationery store. I’ve always loved paper, and there I got a chance to learn about the retail side of things, as well as design for clients. As I mention later, the store sadly closed (or more accurately, moved cross country) but I still have a valuable skill set as an invitation designer that I’m very thankful for.
(Q) Tell us about one little extra step you take for your clients that we may not see from the outside.
I take great care with my packaging – as an all-around paper artist I have what is nearly a compulsion to fold things very precisely – as a result, I can wrap a mean present (I actually used to love it when customers requested that their item be gift wrapped at the shop I worked at). I treat every order I receive as though it’s a gift for the person who ordered it – I don’t wrap it in wrapping paper, but I do wrap all of my packages nicely in glassine paper and always include a handwritten note, and often a little thank you gift.
(Q) What does Monday morning look like for you?
In the early morning (and for me 8 AM is early – I’m kind of a night owl) just before breakfast I like to sit and work in Illustrator for a while, while my cat Meowstro sits on my lap, trying out new ideas while my mind is still fresh from not thinking about all of the other obligations of the day. Then around 9:30 I like to have breakfast – I hate breakfast food, so most often it’s dinner leftovers.
(Q) Where would you “trash the dress” yourself?
Want to hear a secret? I eloped! I don’t even have a wedding dress. My mom teases me for working in the wedding industry now, after I eloped (at sunrise on 7/7/7!) and didn’t have a wedding. I remind her that I did have really nice letterpress wedding announcements made though.
(Q) Tell us about the moment you realized you were going to turn your passion into a business.
Concertina Press came about quite suddenly March of 2011. The charming stationery store I’d been working for as a designer and all-around shopkeeper for several years closed due to the owner’s move to sunny California. I didn’t know what to do – I didn’t want to go work in a boring office from 9 to 5. I knew I’d been interested in shifting over to being my own boss and doing all creative work – the store closing was just what it took to get me to register my business and develop my own line. In a way, I’m still seeing if it “works out” but so far, the response has been really great and encouraging.
If you’d like to hear more about Ruth, you can find Concertina Press on Facebook, follow her blog, visit her on Etsy or check out her online shop. She is always happy to get emails too – Ruth (at) ConcertinaPress.com.