Retailer Profile: Smudge Designs

The mother/daughter duo!

Smudge Designs
Julie Stern and Joanna Stern, Owners
132 Sheppard Avenue West, Suite 210
Toronto, Ontario M2N 1M5
Tel:  647 347 4343

How long have you been in business?
We have been in business now for 4 years! Whew. 

When did you realize that the stationery business was the right one for you?
My mom (Julie) and I were brainstorming invitation ideas for an anniversary party she was throwing. We were having so much fun together coming up with ideas and researching different printing methods that we never wanted it to end. We love that we can put our crazy ideas to good use.

What part of working with new brides is the most exciting?
I love when the bride receives the final product. Seeing their reaction, seeing how excited and happy they are is always a delight.

When people say, "well it's just paper…it's going to get thrown away anyway" what is your reaction?!
That’s always a tough thing to hear. But custom stationery isn’t for everyone. We just politely tell people that we are very passionate about invitations and the impact they can have on your event. We are true believers that it starts off the wedding, and can really get people excited about the events to follow.

What do you do with card and invites you receive from family and friends?
I love receiving invitations! I have saved every invitation I have received since my bar/bat mitzvah days. They stay on the fridge until the event then they are carefully placed into a memory box.

What tip can you give a bride about the invites she might order?
Make sure to be honest about your budget. I know it’s an icky topic, but it needs to be talked about. We want every client to be comfortable with the amount they are spending, and can work within a budget to create something beautiful. But you have to let us know what that budget is.

What is a color combo that you're in love with right now for invites this season?
Anything and everything GOLD! I am dying over gold foil with blush ink. I also like to keep warm in the colder months (Canada gets freezing!) so I find using softer grey’s and pewter tones instead of black help to give the invitation some much needed warmth.

Do you find Pinterest and Facebook helpful when relating with potential clients and how do you utilize social media?
Yes and no. It is always good to have visuals and inspiration to start off the invitation process. Having a client know exactly what they want is always helpful. However, pinterest and facebook can also provide too many options, and it sometimes may be overwhelming. We try and blog as often as we’s a great place to show off recent jobs we have done and it gives a potential client a sense of our style and who we are.

Brides rarely have a clue what they want when they sit down for invites…how do you lead them in the right direction to find their dream invites?
It is perfectly okay not to know what you want! First and most importantly we want them to relax and enjoy the process. It shouldn’t be stressful it should be fun! We like to chat, joke and get to know each other first. We ask the simple questions, do you have wedding colors, is your event formal, are you more traditional or more modern, where is the event taking place. After we have a bit more of an understanding we begin to flip through books and invitations carefully selected by us that we think will fit your needs. We like to sticky note invitations of interest, and we will re-visit them later. Once the bride has selected a couple options, we look at her choices in more detail and begin to customize it more towards her needs.

What trend are you seeing this season for invites?
Foil has been a huge trend this season. It is a great way to jazz up an invitation, and create visual interest. Gold foil especially.

Best advice for bride or bride-to-be about finding the perfect invite suite?!
Forget about trends, forget about what other people are doing, forget about what other people are telling you to do. Focus on what you and your fiancé like and will be happy with.

The Spark sisters met Julie and Joanna at the National Stationery Show in May.  We are thrilled to have them selling our custom letterpress stationery!

Retailer Profile: Gateaux, Inc

Gateaux Inc
Plymouth, MN

Owner: Robin Martin
Length in Business: 16 years, 11 in stationery

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums? The only letterpress company this open to customization!
Favorite Spark Design: I love to pull artwork together to be customized, but if I had to pick a suite, I would say Margaret.

Social Media


Other thoughts about the albums:
I love that the designs range from incredibly traditional to modern within one album. It has multiple personalities, like me! These designs allow me to control the destiny of the couple's look for their wedding. It's the A to Z design for their stationery and cakes at the same time!
Average client: They really range in age 20-40s where the younger bride wants more traditional and the 40 year olds want something modern.
Strengths as a retailer/store: I'm not afraid to take the extra time to do custom work. I push brides to create a design that is uniquely theirs, your stationery should look like you. I also have Adult ADD which is a plus, because I don't want to do anything the same way twice!

Robin's first love is making wonderful wedding cakes! We have featured some of her stationery to cakes on this blog. Her ability to help each couple from the beginning of their stationery design to the end of cutting the cake is always inspiring. Watch Robin and her team on Amazing Wedding Cakes this season on WE tv which premiers late March.

**Recognize Arianna and Lucinda design elements in the above cake images? Ask us how you can get your stationery design for your cake as well!

Retailer Profile: The Dandelion Patch- Georgetown

The Dandelion Patch- Georgetown
Washington, DC

Owner: Heidi Kallett
Length in business: Doors for this store opened October 8th!

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums? We had a lot of success with them at our other locations (Vienna and Reston). We love the playfulness of the designs. We really like the flexibility and variety of the designs as well.
Favorite Design: Claire "Top Secret" (because we are in DC), and Ava

Social Media

Other thoughts about the new albums: We like them a lot! I enjoy working with your staff (two thumbs up). They are user friendly albums.
Average client: Traditional with a modern twist.
Strengths as a retailer/store: Customer service and the ability to help our customers with the design and layout to really make things custom.

It has been fun to get to know the staff at The Dandelion Patch in 2010. We were thrilled to see them open two new locations in October - Georgetown and Leesburg! They are a great resource for creating custom stationery and truly have an attentive, creative staff that will help you every step of the way.

Retailer Profile- Gus and Ruby Letterpress

Gus and Ruby Letterpress

Portsmouth, NH

Owners: Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield
Length in business: A little over 2 years

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums? Loved the versatility! Such a variety of designs from traditional Caitlyn to fun Valerie - there is something for everybody. We love the bold use of graphic and type. Also whimsy :)
Favorite design: Amelie and Isabel

Social Media
Facebook: gus & ruby letterpress
Other thoughts on the albums: Because there is just the two of us and we really give our couples the personal experience (appointment, champagne, etc), who we work with is really important and you guys are fun! You have built a relationship with us, and us with you, which actually helps our clients go from their vision to reality.

Average Client: Slightly more contemporary, really design savvy clients.

Strengths as a retailer/store: Really our customer service as we try to establish a relationship with each client and we care about each one of them. We can talk about their vision and give direction as we are both graphic designers and letterpress printers. This helps when we bring the order to you as we know what works and what doesn't for letterpress.

It's true, Samantha & Whitney know letterpress. All of us at Spark consider them a friendly dynamic duo. The projects they send our way encourage our willingness to mix and match the designs, creating custom pieces that are very personal to their clients. We love that. By the way, their paperhounds blog is a must read - check it out!

Photo credits:
top image- Mark Davidson Photography
bottom two images- Emilie Inc. Photography

Retailer Profile: Sweet Paper

Sweet Paper
La Jolla, CA

Owners: Julie O'Brien and Theresa Anderson
Length in business: Store opened September 18th!

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums? We first saw you at NSS (the National Stationery Show) with the goal in mind of finding which albums we wanted to carry in the store. When we saw yours, the designs were unique, fun, fresh and different.
Favorite Spark design: Amelie, Adam and Diedre

Social Media
Twitter: sweet_paper
Facebook: Sweet Paper

Other thoughts about the new albums? We like how easy they are to work from, the many options and ease of customizing. The design book is laid out great. Our customers can see what they might get and this gives them a level of comfort. Now that we have worked with you, the great customer service is also awesome to work with.
Average client: Not too traditional, modern and fun
Strengths as a retailer/store? The store is unique for this area of town. We have strong customer service. We really try to get the orders exactly how our client would like them. We also carry a lot of fun products. Our favorite: visit our nook to look at the albums!

The sisters of Spark are fans of the sisters of Sweet Paper! Julie and Theresa offer a unique collection of ready to wear stationery and gifts. Their bridal lounge to preview their custom stationery products is a cozy, adorable nook, providing clients with the ideal spot to plan for an upcoming event. We are happy to have them representing Spark custom products and wish them a successful new year!

Retailer Profile- Seaside Papery

Seaside Papery
Coronado, CA

Owner: Jori Jackman
Length in Business: almost 7 years

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums?: Such great designs at great price points. Those were the two factors we were looking for in a new album- you guys had it.
Favorite design from the albums: I just love all the diecut business cards. Not many vendors offer that.

Social Media
Facebook: Seaside Papery

Other thoughts about the new albums: We have had a great response from clients. We are excited for the future, excited to offer something new and exciting. It was so great to come across you guys.
Average client: Higher end yet looking for amazing value, lately more on the traditional side.
Strengths as a retailer/store: The custom side of stationery - we have a great team here, those who have worked a long time in stationery and have the knowledge of custom work for each type of event. We work one-on-one as opposed to ordering online, we enjoy working directly with our clients. We also offer all pieces for the big day, from favors to gifts for party members. Brides come in for their stationery and end up shopping as well!

We are so pleased to have Seaside Papery as a Spark retailer. They are such a creative, fun group to work with. Take a look at the "in the shop" page on their website and you'll see what a creative team they truly are. The products they sell provide their clients with many fun and stylish options to choose from whether they are looking for a gift or personal stationery. Pay them a visit and tell them Spark sent you!

Retailer Profile- Paper and Poste (Canada!)

Paper and Poste
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Owner: Heather Sauer
Length in Business: The Studio is opened this month! Our store has been running for about 30 years.

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums?: They are so unique and encompassing with playful and fresh designs. Impeccable details, with the designs like our style.
Favorite New Spark design: Claire "Top Secret"


Other thoughts on the albums?: We really love them! We only wanted a couple lines, and Spark's line helped inspire us to open the studio. Innovative.....we realized something amazing was here- worthy to create the studio.
Average client: We have a huge range of couples in our area, nothing average yet anyway!
Strengths as a retailer/studio: We brought in a few, unique range of lines to appeal to variety of couples. The studio really gives everyone the opportunity to create what you want.

We are so excited to be in Canada! Paper and Poste are a great addition to the Spark family with all their creative talent! This week is their studio opening! So if you are in the area, please go and give Heather and Beckee and huge hello and congratulations! And according to our owner, Heather is a "sweet lady". :)

Retailer Profile- Paperista

Minneapolis, MN

Owner: Antoinette Ramos
Length in Business: 2 years

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums?: Because they are AWESOME! Really, the pricing, design customization, and service is really great.
Favorite New Spark Design:
Arianna, Erin, and Diedre

Social Media:

facebook: paperista

twitter: paperista

Other thoughts on the albums:
We love the whole Sparkler concept you have, the albums are very popular with clients- they are drawn to the fresh and fun designs.
Average client:
20-something bride without the stuffy-ness.
Strengths as a retailer/store:
Offer a couture stationery experience- we want to be a fun part of the wedding experience!
When Antoinette approached us to carry the Spark letterpress love albums, we happily realized two things. First, she's got style. Second, she knows how to use her style to create beautiful, custom stationery. Her stationery studio is an amazing space, perfect for inspiring her clients to relax and enjoy the process.
Our owner, Bebe, had a chance to visit her personally the last time she was in Minneapolis. Antoinette is a lovely person, with a keen design sensibility. We’re lucky to have her, so please give her a call to discuss your next project! They are located on the 2nd flood of the historic Semple Mansion near downtown Minneapolis
Their address: 100 West Franklin Aveune, Suite 204 Minneapolis, MN 55404
Store Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 10 AM - 5PM, Saturday: 11AM - 3PM

Retailer Profile: Inviting Affairs

Inviting Affairs
Austin, TX

Owner: Michelle Esaias
Length in business: 7-8 years

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums?: We love Spark's originality. There is nothing like it!
Favorite new Spark design: Lovebirds- Lucinda

Social Media
Facebook: Inviting Affairs

Other thoughts about the albums: We think the albums are super cute - love them!
Average client: Our average client has a more modern style.
Strengths as a retailer/store: We provide great customer service and offer a variety of custom lines for our clients to choose from.

All of us at Spark truly enjoy working with Michelle and her staff at Inviting Affairs. They are a talented group, eager to help you create beautiful custom stationery. Visit their website's what people are saying page to hear just how happy they make their clients. They are doing it right down there in Austin, so stop in and say Hello!

Retailer Profile: Epitome Papers

Epitome Papers
Edina, MN

Owner: Marica Cherniack
Length in business: 4 years (long story short-- really like 40 +!)

Why did you choose to carry the new Spark albums?: love the designs, love to customize
Favorite new Spark design: love love love the pockets!


Other thoughts about the albums: Everybody loves to see all the pieces, people would have never thought of having some of the pieces!
Average client: traditional, but leading away from that
Strengths as a retailer/store: our service, our service, our service!

The Spark family is originally from the Minneapolis area, so Epitome Papers is near and dear to us. They are located in The Galleria, a trendy shopping area in a beautiful Minneapolis suburb. The Galleria is the place to go to find the latest trends, amazing restaurants and eco-friendly products, so it's no wonder that the Epitome has its home here. They are very familiar with Spark products and are never afraid to ask us to create truly custom pieces. Epitome specializes in all things paper for every occasion: weddings, anniversaries, baby, holiday and more. Stop by and tell them we sent you!