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: Landis Gifts & Stationery

Landis Gifts and Stationery
Established in 1990
Edie Frere, Owner
138 N. Larchmont Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Brag a bit about yourself and your company. What would you like people to know about Landis Gifts & Stationery? What are you most proud of?

(Allison) Not only are our employees knowledgeable and helpful, but everyone who works here has great taste, which is invaluable when it comes to designing your own stationery/invitations.
(Erin) And in addition to stationery we carry a variety of gifts, from deliciously-scented candles and monogrammed silk pouches and bags to beautifully packaged soaps and so many fun little odds and ends.
(Joanne) We are a store who takes time to know our customer. Some of the people who come to the store just come to chat and ask what is new in the store.

What makes you different from other stationery shops? What makes you unique?

Twenty years of experience, to start. Also, we offer invitations and stationery by a wide variety of companies, as well as our own designs, so there is something for every desire and budget.

(Joanne) Some of our staff live in the area and know many of the people that live in our area, which makes our store more neighborhood friendly.

What is your favorite Spark design and why?

The fun die cut shapes for business cards and holiday cards are my favorite. No one else has fun shapes like these so they are fun to see.
Lucinda – I love the bark’s texture.
I love the chipboard paper so much I bought Spark business cards using it!
I’m torn between the Ava and Joy styles. The peach and pink are just lovely, especially for springtime or summer weddings or soirees.
I like the transparent silver ink. To me it looks blind embossed which is a look I always liked.

2012 is approaching quickly. What do you predict will be the biggest wedding or stationery trend for 2012?

We still see lots of plum and green combinations, and also a trend toward black and white. Simple elegance seems to be the biggest trend. There is a definite trend toward relating the Save the Date cards with the wedding location, and sometimes with the wedding invitation.

(Joanne) Something that catches the eye and allows the engaged couple to put a personal or unique style to the invitation. Affordable but not cheap looking.

What are some current trends you’re noticing in the stationery world? Colors, designs, papers, etc.

(Allison) Modern shades of purple are popping up more and more. Also, business card-sized enclosures with the couple’s website info in wedding.
Personal calling cards, with just a name and perhaps an email address.
Letterpress invitations, as they are becoming more affordable, more popular. Bold pattern borders or a bold motif seem to be chosen more often.

The staff at Landis Gifts & Stationery offers so much creativity and stationery expertise. Stop by and talk to them about your next stationery project! Please tell them Spark sent you!

Letterpress Elegance - How to Customize

We talk a lot about customizing your invitations, but what does it really mean? Does it have to be a complicated process? Absolutely not! Take the above invitations as an example. The first image shows our Margaret design, taken right out of our custom wedding album - the only thing that has changed are the inks and papers. The client also mimicked the invite design on the reception card.

The second image is a customized invitation, not featured in our custom wedding albums. The design is inspired by our Margaret suite, with the following changes:

- Chandelier artwork added to top (pattern removed)
- Pattern at bottom changed to our lovely "Brocade" pattern found in our design book*
- Burgues (swoosh) font toned down a bit
- Paper changed to grout gray, ink is warm gray

*All of our retailers have a Design Book they can share with you during your consultation, providing additional choices for papers, inks, fonts, patterns and other artwork. If you are working with us directly, we can send you a PDF with your customization options.

Whether you are working with Spark directly or through one of our retailers, let us guide you through the customization process. Don't hesitate to ask questions, we want to hear your ideas and inspire you to create something one-of-a-kind!

Just got engaged? Here's our timeline

Organized Sister here to help. First of all, congrats! Deep breath in and out. Everything will work out beautifully, your day will be magical. It "just" takes a little planning.

The above image outlines our wedding stationery timeline month by month. We are showing a 12 month scenario because this seems to be an average timeline for today's couples.

Save the Dates. Notice that we are suggesting sending out your save the dates up to 10 months in advance of your big day. However, we feel that save the dates can be mailed up to 5 months prior to your wedding date. After that point, you'll be sending them right on top of your invitations.

Invitations. Wedding invitations are mailed 6-8 weeks in advance of your wedding date, however the trend lately is sending them as early as 12 weeks from your wedding date. I don't want to give you the impression that you have all the time in the world. Talk to us or one of our retailers EARLY to start planning on your wedding stationery. Why? This is the first thing your guests will see. Planning your stationery early inspires all of the little and important details you'll use for that day.

For example, we worked with a lovely couture bride from Sioux Falls awhile back. She was settled on using a bright green for her ink color because the bridesmaids dresses were going to be green as well. Guess what happened? After our initial discussion and first proof, her stationery changed to a soft blush and chocolate and the love birds we created especially for her were used throughout her day of stationery and keepsakes.

Day of Items. Print some of your day of items at the same time as your invitations, such as your table cards, seating cards and gift tags. Doing this provides you with enough time to have any of these items sent to your calligrapher.

Other Helpful Tips:
  • allow at least two weeks for calligraphy, longer for in-demand calligraphers; consider digital calligraphy if you have less time or are on a budget.
  • order extra envelopes as most calligraphers require at least 20% extra envelopes.
  • we recommend save the dates for destination weddings and/or detailed invitations sent well in advance of your wedding date to allow guests ample time to make plans.
  • letterpress is an antiquated print method which is why we appreciate additional time to produce your wedding stationery.
  • order extra invitations for unexpected additions to your guest list or keepsakes, re-prints are costly! We sell our stationery in 25 qty increments.
  • the more custom your wedding stationery, the more time you should allow for design.
Best of luck to you and happy planning!

Early Bride Get the Worm...25 free sets!

Early Bride promo
Early Bride gets the great deal!

Receive 25 complimentary sets with purchase of 75 or more custom wedding invitations and matching accessory pieces on orders placed by November 1, 2010. Visit our promotions page on our website to print our 25 Free coupon to redeem this special offer on your Spark order.

We at Spark want you to know that this coupon applies to all event invitations such as mitzvahs, anniversaries and other special occasions - so even if you aren't a bride, you'll still be an early bird!

Free Letterpress Love for the Summer

We’re all about sparking your interest in letterpress, and what better way to do that than by sharing some free letterpress love.

Free Envelopes with Your Order

Any order of 75 envelopes or more will receive 25 envelopes at no additional charge. This offer may be used only once in an order.

Free Belly Bands with Pocket Folds

Our pocketfolds (a.k.a. envelopment, pouch, folder that holds your wedding invite and insert cards) come with a string and button closure that we just love. But, if that's not your thing, then just ask us to skip the string and button and swap for a belly band wrap instead! The belly band wrap literally wraps around the pocketfold to hold close. All of the wedding love designs feature belly band wrap options.

Here's how it works. When you purchase...

Unprinted Pocketfolds, receive an unprinted belly band wrap. One Color Letterpress or Two Color Letterpress Pocketfolds, receive an unprinted or 1 color belly band wrap.

Upgrades do not apply with this special offer. Belly bands cannot be swapped for any other item.

Offers end July 31, 2010. These special offers do not apply to orders placed before June 2, 2010.

Trendy Award Winner - Thank you!

Our Amelie design is a Trendy Award winner in the bridal category!

This is the first year for the Trendy, awarded by Stationery Trends Magazine. Thank you to everyone who voted for our Amelie suite! We are honored by this recognition.

A lot of us here at Spark consider the Amelie suite among our favorites. We love the distressed wood type and the vintage maps. If you are wondering, the New York City map featured in this invitation can be adapted for just about any city or location. Contact us or a retailer new you for details.

Thanks again!

The Letterpress Love Low-down

Wedding season has definitely taken over our lives. Well that is a bit of a strong statement but you get the picture. I just wanted to report that we are definitely in the thick of all things wedding here at Spark.

Jim and I are in the office this morning printing a few more things before lunch with our family. We've been working double shifts seven days a week for so long I can't remember when all of this craziness started. I'm happy to report that there are a lot of happy couples out there though thanks to the extra effort our staff has been putting in to make sure we get orders out as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality.

So I bet you are wondering what we've been printing - what trends we are seeing:
Purples in amethyst, aubergines, eggplants and combined with transparent silver, garnet, french blue and taupe.

Bright greens are still hot - especially when paired with charcoals, black or chocolate for that extra bit of dramatic contrast.

One thing that has surprised all of us at Spark is the demand for our pocketfolds. They are an affordable add-on while still fully customizable. We are seeing all-over patterns used on the pockets and then some with more restraint. All of them are turning out stunningly!

Luxe Expressions - CBS Atlanta Giveaway

Debra Saba, owner of Luxe Expressions in Atlanta, Georgia, participated in the CBS Atlanta Wedding Giveaway. She partnered with Spark to offer the lucky couple letterpress save the dates and wedding invitations. In addition to their wedding stationery, they also received an entire wedding day package from premier wedding vendors in the Atlanta area. Visit the link below to see the CBS Atlanta clip:

The pics below show the happy bride and her letterpress invites, courtesy off Blue World Studios in Atlanta.