What do you offer? We are a custom design and paper studio, specializing in wedding paper. Our clients come to us for a design that is special to them, that expresses the mood and beauty of their wedding day. We offer flat printing, letterpress printing, and foil printing. Many of our designs feature custom monograms, watercolor, and beautiful typography. We also offer correspondence, shower invitations, and for a few years down the road, birth announcements and shower invitations.
How did you get started in stationery? I worked for about 6 years at a magazine publisher here in Birmingham as an art director. I loved magazine design, but I also had a true love for invitation design. Friends were asking me to design shower and birthday invitations about a year after I graduated, and about a year after that, a coworker asked me to design her wedding invitation. Soon after, I was connected with Pineapple Productions in DC and working for them consistently. My designs were published nationally, and my list of clients really began to grow. In February of 2013, I made the best decision for myself and began Empress as a full time stationery and invitation business with my sister, Sarah. Her personality is the exact opposite of mine, and we fit together like two puzzle pieces. My youngest sister Kathryn now helps us out in the art department. She paints watercolors for clients that request it, and her little hands are a blessing to this business.
Why do you love your job? I love what I do because I’m living out my dream of making pretty things! Hearing an idea from my client and making it beautiful is everything for me. Seeing and touching a finished product is more exciting than anything else, except the client’s reaction to her invitation. I say her, but I’ve also gotten emails and even a few phone calls from grooms-to-be and new fathers (those birth announcements really get to them!). You know when you hear from the guys, you’ve done something right.
What has helped grow your business? We have really made a point to grow our local market in the past few years. From about 2007 to 2013, the majority of our clients were out of state. I wanted to be able to meet my clients! We have had the pleasure of working with several Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, and Huntsville wedding planners and that has been huge for us. Through clients and styled shoots, we’ve loved building a relationship with these hard working ladies.
Social media has also been wonderful for us. Mostly instagram. I am a true believer in the power of this amazing little app. I’d be comfortable saying that around 75% of our business comes from it! I also recently moved my work to a studio in downtown Birmingham, and it has made a world of difference in my productivity level and creative flow. I’ve been able to connect with so many other creatives, which I think is key in growing any local business.
What are you working on now? We are lining up our Fall and early winter custom brides. We are also working on a full correspondence line, including notecards, stamps, calling cards, notepads, etc. Everything you need in your stationery arsenal! And a few other things…The second half of 2015 is going to be huge.
What music is playing in your studio right now? Most of my designs are created with a little help from the greats. Right now, I’ve got Bell Bottom Blues iTunes radio going. A little Clapton, Allman Brothers, Van Morrison, and way way too many more to name. It’s pretty excellent, check it out.