One of my favorite products to design are punny valentines, and I love to draw inspiration from my collection of vintage designs. I found these at an antique store in Greensboro – aren’t they fun? The fish is from the 1920’s!
(The inside of the fish says: It’s not a fish tale that I love you)
This year, my mom came back with me after Christmas, so we did a little brainstorming session for this year’s punny valentines during the drive. Ultimately, I decided on 5 new themes: Texas, S’mores, Cactus, TexMex and Baking – all available on our website while supplies last. Each package comes with 12 cards (3 of each of the 4 designs) and red or pink envelopes.
What do you think? Which one is your favorite?
I love designing custom invitations for our customers’ events, but when they give me complete creative freedom, it’s a lot more fun.
I was recently challenged with creating a custom invitation for a Christmas Coffee. Off the top of my head, I suggested a Nutcracker and stacked teacups, and my customer immediately said, “go for it”, so I did! This design was really fun to make, and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It’s fun, colorful and very cheerful (as a party invitation should be).
From time to time I share a behind-the-scenes look at my design process, and since this design is becoming a favorite so far this year, I thought I’d share more. Take a look at the photo below. Does he look familiar? The inspiration for my Nutcracker on paper came from one my own collection. This guy is one of my faves – I call him Señor Nutcracker.
Until a few years ago, I thought Nutcrackers were creepy, but then I stumbled upon a handful of them at am Estate Sale. For some reason, I felt compelled to “save” them, and since then, they’re some of my favorite holiday finds.
After I created the Nutcracker and Cups invitation, I went a little “Nutcracker crazy” (hey, if inspiration strikes, you go with it). I wondered how it would look to have a Nutcracker invade a “Christmas Fiesta” invitation… so I designed two more ideas. Aren’t they fun?! We now have two options for your next Mexican-themed Holiday party – a custom design that takes about a week AND an off-the-shelf design that takes 2-3 days to print. Either way, it will put your guests in the mood for mistletoe and maracas! Ole!
And then I just kept going and created this custom gift tag…
Ok, ok, I’m stopping!!!! (PS- this gift tag is a sneak peek. More details on our NEW custom gift tags coming soon!)
Have you heard the news? Barque was just named Trendy Stationer of the Year by Stationery Trends Magazine! We’re honored and excited and feel very blessed.
We love our customers and what we do every day, but it’s nice to be recognized by our peers in the paper industry too. Our goal is to cultivate a modern love affair of paper in our community and customers. No atter what you hear, paper is NOT going out of style. In fact, in this age of technology, it leaves an even bigger impact! You can only keep a test as long as you have that phone, friends. Say it on paper instead (and makes someone’s day in the process). Carry on paper people. And cue the confetti!
Every May when I board a plane for NYC to attend the National Stationery Show, I get “first day of school” jitters. I’m anxious to see what new products I discover, nervous that the trip will be worth the time and expense (plus time away from work), and downright excited for the show – and great restaurants!
This year I went with a slightly different focus in mind – instead of invitations, I was on the hunt for greeting cards – and lots of them. After the “The Switch” last April, our greeting card sales have skyrocketed. It’s wonderful news, but now the pressure is on. We love when customers tell us we are their go-to place for cards – we just can’t let them down now!
This year’s show did not disappoint in the greeting card department – we found several new lines and had great response to sneak peeks we posted on Instagram (@barquegifts). Here are a few discoveries that will make their way to our shelves over the next few months:
Cards from: Emily McDowell / Paper Bandit Press / Ladyfingers Letterpress / McBitterson’s / Farewell Paperie / 6.25 Paper Studio / Paper Bandit Press / Paisley Tree Press / Paisley Tree Press
Don’t you just love these Social Preparedness Kits from Egg Press? The little fiberglass tray can be used as a catch-all once the stationery is gone. Brilliant!
And this adorable onesie from Lionheart Prints? Awe… (Also available in pink – coming soon).
NSS is such a great place for inspiration too! I probably stared at this booth display wall from Smock for at least 10 minutes.
And finally, I ordered personalized stationery albums from Haute Papier. Man oh man, the stock is high quality and really sharp – and colorful envelope and liner options really send it over the top!
My personal award for the Most Startling Card goes to this one from Ghost Academy… Yes, it pushes the envelope a bit (I shy away from the F word – my grandma shops with me!), but I just couldn’t stop laughing at it. So of course it’s on order.
This trip was especially fun because my friend Christie from Stationery Academy joined me to walk the show. I told her it wouldn’t be a trip to NYC without good food, and she was more than happy to be on board with that. For lunch on Saturday, we got our NYC pizza fix at John’s Pizzeria in Times Square, near our hotel.
Reservations for dinner at Saxon + Parole will definitely be happening again. The food was delicious and the atmosphere/decor was very creative and fun. (Our favorite dish of the night was a pot of chicken liver mousse, red currant, and pepper jelly served with toast – highly recommend it.)
On Sunday after walking the show, Christie and I attended a lovely Stationery Academy Alumni Soiree at Kari Joy’s Apartment near Central Park – isn’t her balcony space charming?
That was such a fun night – laughing and chatting with stationery friends – now that’s a special group of ladies right there!
On Monday, Jennifer joined Christie and I for dinner at Gato – Bobby Flay’s restaurant. It was amazing all around – fantastic food, a comfortable atmosphere and definitely a highlight of the entire trip. (If you’re going, I recommend the roasted Octopus and Avocado Fava Bean Salad!)
Great cards, hanging with my paper peeps and amazing food? Yep, I think this year’s trip to NSS was a success!
Last weekend, I made my annual trek from West Texas to the Big Apple for the National Stationery Show (#nss). It was a last minute decision to attend this year (after the added expense of store renovations this spring, I wasn’t sure I could afford it), but when I realized that I had enough airline miles to fly for FREE (plus a small “redemption” fee), I decided to make it happen.
I left EARLY Saturday morning… and one planned layover, two flight delays, one flight cancellation, an extra flight to Chicago and one standby flight to La Guardia later – I made it. A 17 hour travel day wasn’t what I had in mind, AND all of the travel hiccups made me miss my dinner plans at BUTTER (pouty face), but at least I made it to NYC.
Sunday morning when the show opened, I had the pleasure of walking the aisles with my Stationery Academy friend Kari Joy. As I’ve mentioned before, I power shop when I’m in “buyer” mode, so we made one quick lap up and down the aisles before I really dug in and started burning up the credit card.
Overall, the show was good, but I can’t say that I was overly impressed – by anything in particular, really. It was all kind of the “same ole” thing – A handful of really talented (and well known) brands, even more very talented (lesser known) companies, and then lots of… how do I say it nicely? Junk. (I’m mostly referring to the “fresh off a boat from China” section when I say that.)
The truth is, there are A LOT of great vendors who exhibit at the show, but a retailer can only have so many greeting card/paper lines. While I do appreciate seeing new, clever designs, that doesn’t mean that I can actually order all of them. I only took on a few new vendors, and for the most part, I reordered lines that I already know will sell well in my store. The addition of Etsy Wholesale was nice, but since they were mixed in with regular exhibitors, it didn’t make too much of an impact on my buying strategy, which consists of me asking these three questions:
1. Do I need it? (Or do I have too much already like it? No need to trade sales.)
2. Can I sell it? (Is the price point – and content – marginally appropriate and current?)
3. Who else has it? (I love area protection – I work too hard to find something new and different to have it snaked by copycats)
So what DID I buy? Greeting cards, journals, calendars, note pads, gift wrap (that’s a new one for us!), great prints, tea towels, straws and washi tape to name a few. Here are just a few of my faves coming soon to the shop:
Featured: Ladyfingers Letterpress / Wild Ink Press / 1Canoe2 Letterpress / Knot and Bow
If you want to see more products as they arrive in the store, you can follow us on Instagram (@barquegifts).
One highlight of the show was seeing the Stationery Academy booth with more SA friends – Stephanie Creekmur, Jennifer Faught, Josie Parsley and Amy Kinslow. These ladies worked hard to pull everything together, and I think they did a fantastic job!
You know that dinner I was so disappointed to miss? Well, it almost made up for it to see Alex Guarnaschelli in the flesh (walking down the street right next to our taxi). I also had a delicious, impromptu dinner on both Sunday and Monday nights, so it worked out being a nice weekend for my palette too. I loved trying the oysters and seafood at Jeffrey’s (much more fresh than what we get in West Texas!). My favorite detail? Sea salt wells right on the table. I’m just a salt nerd like that, I guess.
As always, it was a quick trip, but one that left me hungry for more – both paper AND delicious dishes. Until next year, NYC!
With grauation just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about great gifts for grads! Customers always make it sound like “graduation gift hunting” is a daunting task, so we’ve created a handy little Graduation Gift Guide to help you (through a series of questions and answers)… and the best part? We can hook you up with any of these options (quickly and easily)! Just call the store 806-785-1195 or stop by and speak with a sales associate for more information and pricing.
If you’d like to download a copy for yourself, you can get it HERE.
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