Saturday, May 29, 2010

It's in the Mail

Part of the charm of letters, postcards and packages is the surprise that is waiting for you in your mailbox. What will come today? Maybe nothing comes for weeks, but then, one day, you find a hand addressed envelope with a Mickey Mouse stamp. That is a good mail day.

A lot of of you follow some mail blogs such as Missive Maven, 365 Letters, Letters, She Wrote, Postmuse, Everyday Correspondence and what's great about each of these is all of the photos they post of all the mail they receive and send.

Other mail stories I have recently found in my internet wanderings:
Top 10 Reasons to Use Snail Mail
Pens & the Post: Collect, Correspond, Celebrate! 
Social Letter Writing Revived

Letter writing and mail may not be the same as it was 10, 50, 100 years ago, but it is certainly not dead. It just continues to evolve as does life.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Power of a Letter

I enjoy writing letters. It's my favorite way to communicate. One thing I've made a special effort to do with letters is send support to someone I hear or read about to whom I want to send thanks or offer support.

In early May I read a Time magazine article about Ron Rubin, CEO of the Republic of Tea, who made it his mission to improve the benefits and working atmosphere at his company in spite of a downward spiraling economy.

I sent a letter to Mr. Rubin thanking him for taking the initiative to be caring and proactive regarding his employees' well- being. In my brief note, I explained that he is inspiring as a leader and is also, hopefully, setting standards for other CEOs to follow suit.

To my delight and surprise I received a package from Republic of Tea with the 3 canisters of tea (pictured in this post) as well as a thank you note written by Mr. Rubin. How nice is that? While a response is not expected, it is always welcomed. In addition to the recognition of receipt of my letter, his response also inspires me to send more goodwill.

This is the sixth letter I've sent this year, and the first to which I received a response. I recently started to keep a folder with a note on who/why/what/when.  This helps me recall who I actually sent a letter to rather than who I thought I sent a letter to.

I'd like to hear who you have sent a letter/note/card to and any response you received.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Keeping a Book Journal

I'm a huge book fan. I majored in English and worked in a book store and then a book distributor for over 15 years. I love to read, to see what others are reading, to visit bookstores and to talk about books. Imagine my delight when I heard about a woman who wrote an essay on every book she reads.

Meet Mary-Clare Bates of St. Paul, MN who has kept a book journal since 1995. In the 15 years she has been doing this, Mary-Clare has completed four notebooks and is now on her fifth. You can read more about her (and her favorite books and authors) at the Letters & Journals website.

I track what I ready by year, usually with just a title and maybe a comment if I really liked the book or really disliked the book. With books I dislike, I most likely will not finish them. For me, life is too short and there are just too many books to read to waste time on ones that I am not getting into.

How about you? What are your book reading habits? Likes?Dislikes?

(Photo is of Mary-Clare's reading room)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Day 3 at the National Stationery Show

Day 3 at the National Stationery Show. Another full day walking the show and learning about all kinds of new products and companies.

Christy Eichers is the founder and owner of regreet. The regreet cards which allow you not only to reuse your greeting cards, but track them as they travel from person to person. You can learn more about how this works by visiting their website. It was especially nice to meet Christy as she is a fellow Minnesotan.

Green Stationery Inc. is also from MN. I spoke with the owner Marianne Cook for a little bit at her delightfully decorated booth of office and stationery supplies. I love her motto, "Good planets are hard to find."

The ladies at Sandscribbles were very inviting and anxious to share the unique selling point of their cards. Supia lives near the beach and goes there most days to write in the sand. Many days she will incorporate a dog in her photos as they are often taken for walks on the beach. The website has a lot more information and also allows you to place special orders for names, events, words you would like written for your special someone. Very cool! (the photo in the blog is from one of their cards- thank you!).

Letters & Journals received some very warm welcomes (thank you) as well as a few skeptical concerns (Why would anyone launch a magazine?). But overall, the response has been very positive and a few people have shown interest in supporting the magazine through ads and/or sponsorship.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Day 2 at the National Stationery Show

Day 2 at the National Stationery Show was another jam packed day. I walked the second half of the show, stopping at many booths and finding out about the product they featured.

I met Karen from Exaclair who many of you may know or have heard of as she is generous with sending out samples of their product. Earlier this year I raved about the bottle of J. Herbin Orange Indien ink I received that Karen had sent. It was nice to finally meet her and thank her in person.

The notebook in the photo is from Flowerpot Press. They have some lovely journals and cards.

I met Alan at Night Owl Paper Goods. Their eco-friendly products are described as 'modern yet folksy'. They also have an awesome website- cute, whimsical, easy to read and navigate.

When he heard that I was looking for local stationery stores to visit, Alan recommended that I visit Greenwich Letterpress who also had a booth just one aisle over from Night Owl. So I visited there a bit also and got to know how they are owned and run by two sisters who are both artists. If I don't make it to there store in Greenwich this year, I will plan to get there on my next visit to NYC.

All for now. Wish I had time to list more, but must move on. Will post again tomorrow! And will also follow up with some of the people I met at the show at a later date when it is not so crazy and busy.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 1 at the National Stationery Show

Today was the Day 1 of the National Stationery Show. I visited lots of booths and met some wonderful creators, vendors, sellers of all things stationery.

Highlights of the day included meeting Peter Hopkins at Crane Paper. Peter was kind of enough to help me out a couple years ago by answering some questions for me as I started conducting the initial research into starting this magazine. I have followed Peter's blog for a few years and meeting him today was like meeting an old friend. He was very warm and welcoming.

Peter also surprised me by giving me a gift bag filled with boxes of Crane cards and stationery and, boy, did I have fun looking through that. It was all I could do to not open one of the boxes and start writing on a card when I got back to the hotel. But, alas, my husband wanted to go out to dinner, so off we went. Most likely I will be including one of these boxed cards in some contest or drawing in order to spread the stationery joy.

Other booths I visited include Truly Sisters where I met the artist and owner, Mary Torch. This is Mary's first year at NSS and she got started as an artist creating sorority stationery and thank you cards for her daughter who recently joined a sorority. Apparently sororities in the south are big into cards and thank you notes and they needed something more modern and chic than they were finding. So Mary created her own line and has been expanding her choices and selection over this past year.

Eco friendly cards has been a big theme this year. Kelp Designs was one of them and they were giving out twitter pins for those who stopped at their booth and was a twitter follower, or wanted to be. They were very nice and seemed surprised by all the twitter fans they had. Ecosystems and ecojot were also at the show.

Too Little Trees plants a tree for every blank book they sell. They had a wonderful selection of journals and were giving away free journals to all of their booth visitors.

Many of the vendors I met were wholesalers and sell only to stores, of which there were a lot of store owners and buyers at the show. But from the conversations I had with others who have been to previous shows, they fear the traffic is down from the last couple of years as the hard times continue. But it was only the first day, so hopefully Monday and Tuesday will see an increase in traffic walking the show aisles.

I walked about half of the show and will walk the other half tomorrow. There are over 900 booths, which, I believe is down from 1,000 at last year's show and 1,400 from a few years ago. On Tuesday I will go back and see some of the booths that I might have missed- too busy, looking the other way, a missed aisle, etc.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Preparing for the National Stationery Show

The National Stationery Show (NSS) starts this Sunday! I'm so excited to be going again this year. My main objectives are to find story ideas and new products to share, find potential advertisers as well as stationery stores who would like to carry the magazine, and meet others in the industry and share their enthusiasm for our collective passion- pen, ink, paper, cards, mail, notebooks, journals and more. I have a checklist of items that I am bringing which includes:
  • Business Cards
  • Magazine Prototype
  • Postcards featuring the prototype cover
  • Stamps for mailing postcards
  • Extra suitcase for all of the goodies (information packets, samples, catalogs)
  • Camera
  • Good walking shoes
  • List of fun tourist things to do
  • Notebook for ideas and business cards 
  • Appointment calendar to make sure I keep the appointments I have set up
Wish me luck! Hopefully, I will see some of you there!
(Photo: Paper Patisserie in St. Paul, MN)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

L&J's Newsletter named LetterNews

Letters & Journals ran a contest a few weeks ago to get some suggestions on what to name the weekly newsletter. We had a lot of wonderful and creative submissions and after a few weeks of gradually narrowing down the list, we decided to go with LetterNews.

LetterNews works on many levels. First of all, it's a play on newsletter, so that is highly appropriate. Secondly, the word letter is what makes up all of the words contained in your letters and journals. And finally, letters as in correspondence in the mail.

The lucky contributor is Ilona who most of you know as The Missive Maven. I emailed her the good news and she was just thrilled. For those of you who are curious, she chose the JetPens gift certificate. I'm sure she will share with all of you the updates and reviews of what she ends up buying with her new-found fortune.

The newsletter will start publishing at the end of this month. You can sign up at the L&J website if you want to get on this e-newsletter mailing list.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Letters & Journals Launches the New Website

Letters & Journals website has now launched! We've been working on this for months and are pleased and happy to unveil the new site this weekend.

Keep in mind that things are still new and being changed, added, removed, etc. as we find out what works and what doesn't. We're anxious to start on this new path getting us closer to the print magazine which is scheduled for publication sometime in 2011.

First, we need subscribers and advertisers, and we will actively be seeking both of these on the new website. We have some great contests and giveaways planned and hope you will join us and tell your friends!

We're also seeking relevant, interesting and entertaining content so if you have story ideas or links to other sites that you would like to recommend, please contact me.

Thanks to those of you who have been so vocal and positive in sharing your support for this concept. We're excited by your enthusiasm!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper

"The Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper is a traveling monthly collection of the best blog posts about notebooks, pens, pencils, paper products and anything else deemed relevant by the editors." explains Notebook Stories, the originator of the carnival. The editors are the various hosts who take turns publishing the monthly carnival.

Julie (Okami) will be hosting the tenth edition of the carnival at her blog, Whatever, on May 4, 2010. Last month's carnival was hosted by Notebook Stories, and the March carnival was hosted by Pocket Blonde.

Rules for submitting an article to be considered for the monthly publication can be found here and the submission form can be found here. Submissions are due the first Sunday of each month. The carnival is then posted two days later on Tuesday.

Just like finding fun and interesting blogs linked on the pages of the blogs you visit, having the monthly Carnival of Pen, Pencil and Paper, is a great way to find new articles and bloggers for the pen and paper enthusiast conveniently located in one place.