Wandering around the National Stationery Show in NYC yesterday, it hit me: this has been a long time coming.
Dad declared I needed a job in high-school: ballet wasn’t exactly teaching me the “value of a dollar” as much as it was teaching my mans’ man daddy that pointe shoes last two weeks and cost five times a sleeve of golf balls. My friend Ruthie always calls Montgomery “an overgrown country town,” and it must be true: faster than you can blink I had a job offer from Mrs. Virginia Noblin of The Paper Store, via my father via my mother via my grandfather via my great Aunt Joy (or something like that).
So there I was, high-school Christmas breaks, tucked behind the counter of the only stationer shop in Montgomery — likely practicing releve.
Some people toss invitations and note cards for the sake of some magic art of tidying up, and some people savor every calligraphed envelope, business card, and birthday note. I am card-carrying member of the latter camp.
Back on Mulberry Street at The Paper Store, I learned pre-internet stationer basics: Black ink on ecru for girls coming home to get married, foldover notes cards for ladies, flat cards for the Chamber of Commerce set, calling cards for everyone. “Ashlyn, go count and see if we have 10 of these — it’s Oddballs designs I think — let’s just do those at a ‘dollah’ each for her. Put it on Jane’s house account.”
NO one pronounced their “r’s” on the end of words at The Paper Store. I graduated Southern invitation etiquette school before knowing I’d even enrolled.
Binder after binder of invitations swayed the wooden shelves. A threadbare Crane’s blue book kept watch over our dealings, and a circa 1994 HP had enough “typestyles” that Mrs. Virginia could whip out anything: We have InDesign; Mrs. Virginia had that HP and a stack of white paper — she’d just keep backspacing and re-printing and holding the invitation over the paper up to the bay windows until she was satisfied.
Yesterday, taking commands from my Illume Retreat speaker Katie O. Selvidge, I took a personal field trip. Mission? Better stewarding of my craft as a writer and calligrapher. One free press pass and a sweet Delta-benefits understanding husband later, I was zooming from LGA to Hudson Yards for the 70th National Stationery Show this weekend.
All I could think the whole time was how proud Mrs. Virginia (pronounced “Vuh-GIN-yah”) would have been.
You know about Emily Ley, Rifle, Ladyfingers. But after wandering the aisles of the show, I got hooked on some newbies. Here are 16 stationers you may not be following on Instagram, that you’d may want to follow for inspiration, if you’re a paper-lover or calligrapher like me!
I hope you enjoy the list! Who else do you like to follow for stationer inspo?