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
Canada
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 can...it’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!

Etc. for Her Magazine Features Spark









Thank you so much to everyone at Etc. for Her Magazine for featuring Spark in the August 2012 issue!  They really made our store look great, we couldn't be happier!  We have had a great Summer, meeting clients as they visit our shop for the first time.  Below is the article, but feel free to visit Etc. for Her Magazine online.  If you haven't stopped by yet, please do!  We will soon be prepping for Fall, and have we got some fun ideas up our sleeves!





Stop by Spark this Saturday during Hot Harley Nights and print your own letterpress coaster!  We will be open from 5PM to close Saturday.  BYOB!  ;-)  In addition to coasters, we will be handing out letterpress goodies to designers and bridal couples.  Make sure you ask us!  Questions?  Contact us at 605.221.5997.

Spark Reflections




In December of 2010, we launched the letterpress love albums.  It took us months to produce the line, so it was such a good feeling to get them out the door and in the hands of our retailers.  The launch of our albums seems like such a long time ago because since that time, it's been a long, hard road for our little company. 

We experience growing pains just like any company, the family members at Spark trying to remain optimistic and focused on our future endeavors.  We call it the "Spark Train" amongst each other.  People get on and people get off the train and no matter how tough of a day we've had, we have to keep chugging along.

Unless you own a business, you don't quite realize the blood, sweat and tears that goes into making it a success.  You have to be all in - 'go big or go home' as they say.  But with that drive, all of us realize that we are human and honestly, just plain tired.  Really tired.  We have families, children, grandchildren and friends who need our attention just as much as the clients we serve (thank you!).

And then one of us shares a conversation with an elated bride who just received her wedding stationery.  It is the best thing in the world to know that she is happy and that your work really paid off.  We share her enthusiasm with each other, our employees and families  - everyone on that fast train of ours.

We recently opened a store just a couple weeks ago (yes, we're crazy) and it is SO good for us to see the other side of story.  As many of you know, we sell our stationery in over 100 retail stores around the country.  Our own retail experience humbles us a bit because we are quickly understanding what it is like for retailers.  (To start, none of us has ever used a cash register!)  Of course, we've only been open a couple weeks and most people haven't figured out where we are yet...BUT, it's all good.  :-)  We're ready and waiting for our local and not so local clients to walk through our doors!

The picture in this post is our Carter announcement atop our baby press that we have at our store.  Carter was created for the original albums.  Carter and the baby press reminds us where we've been, of the people who have passed through our doors, of what lays ahead.

Right now, we are all taking a deep breath in and preparing ourselves for our next stop.  Thank you to each of you for your support, we don't say that enough!

National Stationery Show here we come!




Well, the National Stationery Show is still weeks away, but amidst the craziness that is wedding season here at Spark, we are spending every spare millisecond preparing for the stationery industry's biggest show of the year! Whether it is putting the final touches on some of our notecard designs or press checking a freshly picked Pantone color, we are all about new product lines here at Spark in 2012.

Here is a brief summary of what we will be debuting at NSS:
  • Party Papers: A line of letterpress lovelies for the stylish soiree. We're giving all of you hosts and hostesses a running start on your next party with this new line or ready-made party stationery including invitations, thank yous, coasters, gift tags, place cards, decorative food picks and small signage. Choose from our lightly-themed designs and coordinating pieces to make your event shine when all of those little paper details are attended to perfectly!
  • Foil + Letterpress Cards: It was a thrilling moment when I hit the send button to get our copper engraving dies made for our new line of foil and letterpress blank cards. We have been doing foil on many other things here at Spark for years, so we figured it was about time to pair our two favorites together for a stunning suite of cards. Four patterns will be available and each will be done in two colorways.
  • Our Signature Collection: Like many of our esteemed colleagues in the world of paper, we have a few patterns and some stunning vintage maps as part of our collection. Tired of being relegated to the occasional envelope liner or only being printed in subdued tones, these cards take advantage of some of our favorite colors (think bright, fluorescent and metallic) and are ready to jump out of their adorable little boxes into the hands of retailers everywhere.
  • Impress: We launched this line at the beginning of 2012 to a small group of current Spark retailers and are ready to show off what this line is all about at NSS. We are only looking for a select few more retailers because this couture line is meant to be lovingly represented. If you are interested, please make it a point to see us early in your show plan so we can talk the talk!
  • Mitzvah: Many of you that we have talked to over the past few years are muttering to yourselves "it's about time!" and we couldn't agree more. We know we've promised to get this line out for a while now, but we promise that good things come to those who wait! You can check out some of our more fun non-traditional designs as well as those with a more classic feel. Either way, everything we offer for this line is fully customizable.
  • The Pressroom: In 2011 Spark undertook a major endeavor of launching an online-only company to carry designs of some of our favorite stationery designers (who also happen to be some of the most talented out there)! The Pressroom has met great success and we are excited to share these amazing designs with our retailers. You can expand your collection of event stationery designs by more than 80 when you purchase the rights to represent The Pressroom.
NSS Buyers, visit us in Booth 2174/2175!

Introducing Spark Impress - New for 2012!




Spark Impress is more than our newest collection, it is the blueprint of what's next for the design studio at Spark. Whether you need custom stationery for a wedding or Mitzvah or simply want to write some beautiful notes to a friend; we will work with you to create stunning paper goods that fit your personal style. In addition to our design services, we handle letterpress printing, foil stamping, die cutting and intricate finishing methods in-house which means your order is lovingly cared for from start to finish. The 2012 Impress Collection Includes:

Gemma.
Dark purple matte and gold and gray metallic papers along with gold and purple inks create this stunning color palette. A new trifold design opens to reveal the invitation and a petite belly band holding additional cards.



Mia.
Cream cotton and Japanese cane papers paired with melon, sunshine and mocha inks. A die cut seashell tag and folded seashell weekend events card make this suite even more special.




Andrea. Navy and fuchsia are paired in matte and metallic papers for a vibrantly chic look. This suite features a laser cut belly band and weekend booklet cover. All pieces fit nicely into our new luxury mailer.




Carina. This simply designed suite has a timeless quality and can easily be modified. Midori ribbon, Arturo paper and our house cotton stock all come together beautifully in this new square mock trifold design housed in pointed flap inner and outer envelopes.



Chelsea. Museum board and pale peach metallic papers coordinate swimmingly with pearlized peach foil used throughout the suite for the magnolia art. Our new calligraphy font is paired with classically styled fonts for an understated yet charming look.




Daphne. Already a favorite of our staff, this cheerful collection tells the couple's story through the die cut initials and heart invite. A modern tin sealed with a mailing label holds the various pieces including a reply postcard and detailed map.




Hilary. This oversized invite panel pairs cooper foil with steel ink and thick Arturo paper in soft white. The copper foil on the invite and reception card complement the copper metallic paper. A square crystal adorns the invite, menu and accessory sleeve.




Alyssa.
This suite has it all - a pale amethyst crystal adorning the invitation, lilac color edging, our new calligraphy font and a laser cut wrap like no other. Arturo papers and envelopes only enhance the gorgeous details of this suite, especially the tone-on-tone letterpress printing.



Whitney.
The photos do not do this suite justice - what can be pared down to a lovely black and white suite, has been all dressed up with its details. Two new items for Spark include a luxury mailer with a curved flap and a coordinating accessory sleeve to hold additional cards.



Zoe. White foil and clear varnish letterpress create a tone-on-tone look to keep everything understated. Bright purple accents in the color edging, liners and backers that pop of color. This modern suite is perfect for the minimalist and type-loving couple.




Katherine. Based on one of our most popular custom designs, this design shows transparent gold and gold inks - one of our most popular pairings. The main panel uses our thickest paper, 4-ply museum board which pairs nicely with our soft white papers.




Tessa. Our increasingly requested airline ticket invitation design can be customized with almost any of our maps and your client's destination. Luggage tag die cuts complete this suite for a save the date or welcome basket, and can be finished with an eyelet, ribbon or string.



Visit an Impress Dealer to get started.
Spark has enlisted an intimate group of our best dealers nationwide who can help you create the stationery of your dreams. Our Impress dealers are just receiving the designs above in the stunning box pictured below, so CONTACT US to find a dealer near you. If you do not have an Impress dealer in your area, we are able to work with you directly.