The Straight-Up Truth: 10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

April 25, 2012 § 3 Comments

So, we’re back…finally…

First, I think I owe everyone an explanation of why I disappeared for last 6 weeks or so (oh my gosh! how has it even been that long!?!).

Hip Ink is mostly a one-woman operation – while I have a few people who help out with assembly etc., I’m on the hook for everything else – and don’t get me wrong, generally I like it that way. And if you’re a frequent reader you know that I am fiercely committed to making this blog happen every week. But sometimes in chasing your dreams, you forget about the reality that comes along with them.

The reality is, that I have been nearly drowning in work – not necessarily something I should have the right to complain about, but nevertheless, it’s turned things a bit upside down lately. I’m thrilled to have so many couples wanting to work with us, and orders from our new collection, but it has been a juggling act to try to keep up the same standards when it comes to response time, delivering on schedule and most of all, quality.

As much as I love The Invitation Blog, I know that my commitment to my work and my clients has to always come first.

So…I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. We’re still busy, but in a more manageable way now that the crazy rush for early summer weddings is over, and so it’s back to blogging for me!

Sort of.

Today I wanted to share with you guys something that is so well-written, so truthful, so brilliant (and something that I’m so jealous I didn’t write myself) that I actually bumped my very first Invitation Advisor post in weeks, just so I could post this instead.

It was written by the lovely and talented Melinda Morris, owner of the fabulous Lion In The Sun Paperie in Park Slope, Brooklyn and appeared in The Huffington Post Weddings section on April 20, 2012.

I think it’s important read for any couple embarking on the wedding stationery adventure, and I think it’s equally important to read the whole article in it’s native form, so rather than reproduce it here, I’m going to tease you with Melinda’s “10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer” and ask you to please, please follow the link below to read the full, amazing, article.

10 Things You Should Never Say To Your Stationer

1.  “They are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”

2. “It’s only paper, why is it so expensive?”

3. “I could do that myself on my home computer and print it on Day-Glo copy paper.”

4.  “Can you just make me one and I can just photocopy or email a scan of it to everyone?”

5. “I know I approved the proof, but we changed the time of the wedding.”

6. “But we only need eight more invitations.”

7. “I left the invitations in the trunk of my car and then went to the car wash” or “We were drinking red wine while assembling the invitations…”

8. “We’ve addressed all our envelopes already, but I mail-merged the guest list incorrectly and all the zip codes are incorrect, what do you mean you don’t check each of our guests’ zip codes for us?”

9. “I sealed the envelopes and I realized I forgot to stamp the reply cards” or “We just used regular postage and dropped them in the mailbox on the street.”

10.  “We would like to put ‘monetary gift only’ on the invitation.”

***READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE***

I’ve actually addressed many of these things on The Invitation Blog in the past, but it’s great to see them all in one place. At times it may sound like putting stuff like this together is just me (or whomever) preaching to couples out there to try to make my own life easier  – I can assure you that isn’t the case.

When my couples are happy, I’m happy. When a couple makes a mistake on their invite, when they need “just a few” more, when they use the incorrect postage etc., those things affect me as well. While there isn’t always anything I can do, and while often those issues aren’t my reponsibility, I still feel for couples who find themselves in those situations. So some of the above deserves to go in the “the more you know” category, because it will only help you to keep those things in mind when dealing with your wedding invitations.

The first four are more related to just being respectful of the stationer/designer you are meeting or working with. While I can understand why a couple might say some of those things, in reality it makes little sense to walk into a lovely stationery store or meeting with a stationery designer if you don’t understand or appreciate the value of what they do. If you feel that their invites are “too expensive”, if you think, “hey, they are just going to end up in the garbage anyway”, if you’re happy with printing your own invites on copy paper or photcopying or emailing your invites – to be perfectly honest, you’re in the wrong place.

As a stationer, I believe it’s every couples’ right to do whatever they want when it comes to their wedding invitations – whether or not I agree with it, like it, find it attractive or think it’s in good taste, the point is that it isn’t about me. It’s about you and your wedding and your guests. But when a couple comes in with an attitude that’s disrespectful towards how I make my living, towards my “art”, that makes me a little testy.

It’s a good lesson in general, to think about what you say to your vendors when meeting with them. By all means, ask questions – but make sure they understand that you are there because you respect what they do and their work, and you’ll find they’ll give you their best.

From The Studio: And Now We’re *Finally* Live on Etsy!

March 7, 2012 § 3 Comments

Whew – what a whirlwind the past week has been!

I’m happy to announce a few things:

1. Hip Ink Paper Co.’s Etsy shop is finally live, with sample and deposit listings for all 20 Hitched by Hip Ink design collection invitations (and more to come over the next few months!). Currently Etsy is the only marketplace where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink, so do mosey on over and check it out, y’all.

2. That means that I can officially stop pimping out Hitched by Hip Ink designs on Wednesday, and get back to showing off some really cool custom designs. But don’t worry, I’ll be featuring one of our Hitched designs every Friday, with an in-depth look at the design and the inspiration behind it.

On a personal note, launching this design collection has been a labour of love, and I use the word labour on purpose. It’s literally been about 9 months since I made the final decision to design and create a Hip Ink invitation collection, and it’s been 9 months of growth, change, nervous anticipation, joy, sadness, doubt and everything in between. But now my babies are out in the world and I couldn’t be happier.

Most of all, I’m thrilled to be able to share my designs with a much wider audience. As a custom designer, I can only work with a limited number of couples every year, to insure that they receive the best quality product and experience possible. While I absolutely love creating custom designs, I realized that I was turning away so many clients because of a tight schedule, or a modest budget, and I realized that many of the potential clients didn’t necessarily need a completely custom invitation, but rather were after that Hip Ink signature look – something fresh and modern, and something not available in every invitation album or big box store out there.

So that’s when Hitched by Hip Ink was conceived – an invitation collection that takes the best of what I have to offer as a designer, and makes it accessible to anybody, anywhere (and for any event).

Here’s the low-down:

The Hitched by Hip Ink collection is digitally printed on your choice of extra-thick specialty paper:

White Matte (110 lb) – paper has a smooth flat texture
White Metallic (111 lb) – paper has a metallic sheen and sparkle
White 100% Cotton (118 lb) – paper has a soft luxurious texture, tree-free (eco-friendly)

The basic Hitched invitation set includes the following:
* Main Invitation and matching envelope
* Choice of response card and matching envelope, or large enclosure
* Digital PDF proofs with up to two rounds of revisions, personalized with your wording and choice of style for response or insert card
* Choice of paper

Many designs also include choice of colour(s) from over 40 available standard ink colours (custom colours are also available for an additional fee).

In addition, we’ve got lots of add-ons and upgrades available (including addressing) and invitations are available without response/enclosure cards as well (for use as Save The Dates, shower/engagement party invites etc.).

Prices start at just $4 per set (based on quantity ordered and paper selection), so what are you waiting for?

I’m so thankful to everyone who encouraged, supported, nudged or downright pushed me to complete this collection and I hope you’ll find a favourite somewhere amongst these new designs too!

Announcing Hitched by Hip Ink: Eye Candy Part 4

March 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Whew! Thanks for sticking with us – proud to show off the last 5 designs of the brand new Hitched by Hip Ink invitation collection!

SAKURA

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ROSES

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MAGNOLIA

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ANEMONE

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BIRDCAGE

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Stay tuned – more details on Hitched to come next week :)

Announcing Hitched by Hip Ink: Eye Candy Part 3

March 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

And we’re back…lots more eye candy to come!

LEAVES

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GLASSES

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GALLERY

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BIRCH

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MODERN

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Finally, we round out the rest of the collection in just 15 minutes :)

Announcing Hitched by Hip Ink: Eye Candy Part 2

March 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

Ready for more? Here we go!

WATERCOLOR

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SILHOUETTE

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CHEVRON

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GARLAND

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HEXAGON

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Next up, Part 3 in 15 minutes :)

Big News: Hitched by Hip Ink Has Arrived…Sort Of!

March 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

Have you ever had one of those days? When it seems that technology has forsaken you? Yep…that’s today (and yesterday, and most of the day before), which so happens to coincide with the launch of our brand new Hitched by Hip Ink invitation collection.

Sort of…I say sort of because our new Etsy store that was supposed to be ready to show off all our fab new designs is not quite ready for it’s big debut – that will be early next week though, I promise!

But, I won’t let some pesky tech issues keep me from showing off our twenty new Hitched designs…nuh uh. In fact, I am going to post them right here, right now over four posts – so get ready y’all ;)

First up, some of my favourites:

LOVE

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STRIPE

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AMPERSAND

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BANNER

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MOROCCO

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Woo – 5 down and 15 go. Watch this space over the next hour for 3 more posts full of Hitched eye-candy just for you!

Workshop Wednesday: Sneak Peek At Our Brand New Hitched by Hip Ink Collection

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so the Invitation Advisor took a break from doling out pithy commentary on invitations and etiquette this week to get our brand new invitation collection, Hitched by Hip Ink, ready for launch on Friday!

And so normally what you’d find on Workshop Wednesday is some photos of one of our custom invitation project – today what you’re going to get is a sneak peek at one of our new Hitched by Hip Ink designs…

I am really excited to finally be able to share this collection – it has been months in the making, through many trials and tribulations, re-designs, throwing out ideas, bringing them back, wanting to give up, feeling elated – what a roller-coaster ride it has been.

But, I’ve kept on because I think there is room out there for some hip, funky modern invitation designs that fit today’s wedding – the kind where anything goes. Casual, backyard affairs to ballroom extravaganzas and everything in between!

On Friday, we’ll have a full launch post, with many more details on the line and a link to our brand new Etsy shop where you can purchase Hitched by Hip Ink.

‘Till then…here’s a look at one of our new designs, Hexagon:

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Each invitation design includes a matching RSVP and additional insert card design, and most designs can also be used for other wedding-related paper needs including showers, engagement parties, save the date cards etc. and will be customizable in a wide range of colours to suit your event.

We’ll be adding to the collection over the next few months as well – exciting times ahead!

In order to give each of the new designs a little time in the spotlight, we’ll be upping blog posts to 4x weekly (yes, 4 times!) and shuffling things a bit.

We’ll keep Tips n’ Tricks Tuesday (home of The Invitation Advisor) exactly where it is, as well as Workshop Wednesdays (showcasing recent custom work from the studio), but we’re moving our encore posts to Throwback Thursdays and introducing Feature Fridays, when we’ll be featuring one of our Hitched collection designs weekly.

Really excited to share all this new stuff with you…soon. The countdown is on!

From The Studio: New Hip Ink Couture Business Cards and More!

January 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

[Yes, it's true - Workshop Wednesday is more of a Workshop Thursday today!]

I promised a while back I would show some of the new Hip Ink Couture branding collateral (a fancy marketing/advertising word for “stuff”) and a bit more about the process, and last week I promised to show our new business cards as well as the promo packages and stationery giveaways from the WedLuxe wedding show.

So without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff ;)

First, because I can’t contain my excitement, our brand new business cards (which I already have to reorder, so I guess that means they were popular!) – designed by yours truly and printed by the extremely talented Alexandra from Dolce Press in Batavia, New York.

I wanted something that was luxurious, made a statement but was still modern and hip, and Alexandra delivered exactly what I asked for – a 3″x3″ square duplexed (two sheets adhered together) card, with the logo foil stamped on a charcoal grey stock for the front, and the back letterpress printed in charcoal grey with a beautiful blind pressed pattern.

As a custom designer, I feel like my business card is my resume, my mini-portfolio, so it’s important that they reflect who I am and what I do. I am seriously over-the-moon in LOOOOOVE with these cards. They are exactly what I pictured and have lots of potential clients talking!

Just because, we need a close-up of that blind pattern, right? Great shot of the metallic look of the foil too!

Let’s rewind a little though…

It’s been a challenge trying to rework the current Hip Ink brand into two different flavours – Hip Ink Paper Co., our umbrella brand, which consists of our still-upcoming invitations lines and hopefully more stationery items down the road, and Hip Ink Couture, our luxury custom-designed invitations. I wanted Hip Ink Couture to still reflect the modern, hip sensibility of the original Hip Ink brand, but it needed to be more than that – more upscale, more elegant, more sophisticated.

Aside: Strange as it may sound, I see Hip Ink Paper Co, and Hip Ink Couture as twin sisters – Paper Co. is a nerdy cool designer chick with a whole lot of personality and a little bit of sass and Couture is the fashionable and trendy design diva with a flair for the dramatic. If they were shoes, Paper Co. would be a pair of Steve Madden’s and Couture would be a pair of Laboutins.

It started with the logo:  I wanted to incorporate part of the original Hip Ink logo, but add something that gave it an air of elegance and luxury, something that specifically was the opposite of the Hip Ink wordmark, to reflect what I do for my clients all the time – bring together sometimes opposite elements and inspirations and make it work.

Hand calligraphy was the first thing that came to mind, and I quickly sketched out what I was looking for (by the way, if anyone is wondering, this is part of what I did on my “corporate retreat”) and I was set. It literally came together in 5 minutes (with 5 months of thought behind it!), and I knew that I wanted the talented Moya Minns to create the custom calligraphy that would be entwined with our original wordmark to make up the new logo. And Moya worked her magic to create exactly what I had pictured in my head!

But…brand building is so much more than a logo. It’s about feelings, colours, images, a voice – so much more. To nail down the visuals, I needed to create a “brand board” of sorts, that would be my guide to creating new visuals for Hip Ink Couture. Here’s a peek at part of the board I put together:

How does the brand board come into play when it comes to designing new collateral? Think of it as the roadmap – you might know where you want to go, but the brand board (and other branding exercises) help you get there.

For example, I wanted to create a hand-out package for the WedLuxe wedding show we participated in, to give to interested couples and vendors, that included a business card and some additional info. With 11 stationers participating in the show, it needed to stand out.

To figure out where to start, I went to my brand and target customer descriptions:  The target Hip Ink Couture customer is looking for one-of-a-kind custom invitations that tell their story through great design, inventive materials and packaging and luxurious quality. As a brand, Couture is cool, clean and sleek – elegant and luxurious, but never over-the-top.

My answer was right there – I need to show and tell what we do, to tell our story in an innovative and luxurious way, and the vehicle was a hybrid between a promo package and an invitation design that would be typical Hip Ink.

It started with 5.5″x7.5″ boxes covered in grey velour (really cool tactile quality) which were foil stamped with our new logo.

Nestled inside, wrapped in silver tissue was a sample invitation of sorts (letterpress printed in a peacock blue ink and blink impression for our logo and details, on a super-thick 100% cotton Crane Lettra stock), that summed up exactly what we do.

Underneath, a scalloped pocket card containing a personal note from me (signed individually), as well as an insert with information about The Invitation Blog and a business card.

The packages were a big hit with the brides and grooms (as well as planners and other vendors) at the show, and I’ve already had a few clients tell me that they decided to contact us just based on these packages – while it was definitely a big investment, I’m hoping that it made a big impression!

And last, but certainly not least, were the adorable note card sets that we put together for the gifting lounge at the WedLuxe Show. In last week’s post on the show you can see the packages themselves in the photo (3 notecards with 3 matching platinum envelopes, wrapped with peacock blue velvet ribbon), but I wanted to show you some closeups I took.

The beautiful and whimsical calligraphy is by the fabulous Laura Lavender on Vancouver Island.

So…more to come over the next few months as we continue to transition Hip Ink Paper Co. and Hip Ink Couture – hope you’ll stop in and check it out!

 

 

Workshop Wednesday: WedLuxe Wedding Show Wrap-Up

January 18, 2012 § 3 Comments

I love me some alliteration, don’t you!?!

Before I get into today’s post, I just wanted to acknowledge that over the weekend The Invitation Blog hit what I think is a big milestone for a little niche blog – 50,000 views! Thanks to all of you who continue to read, support, and put-up with my crazy antics! ;)

So, yes, normally we’re showcasing one of our invites on Wednesday, but today I thought I’d post a little wrap up of the WedLuxe Wedding Show that we participated in last Sunday (January 8th, 2012).

If you’re not familiar with WedLuxe magazine, it’s Canada’s premier luxury wedding magazine, showcasing THE most amazing eye-candy from real weddings to amazing editorial shoots, and featuring some of Canada’s most creative and talented vendors. I was thrilled to be asked to join WedLuxe’s Glitterati and to participate in this year’s inaugural WedLuxe Wedding Show at the Ritz-Carlton Toronto.

Of course, being me, in my haste to get everything together for the show, I forgot one important bit – my camera. So, alas, no full pictures of my booth (which is a bummer, I won’t lie), but I can tell you it was modern and streamlined, white, black and chrome with a little bling behind our invites, and a gorgeous floral arrangement from Shannon at Curly Girl Flowers.

Luckily, Shannon’s fab photog snapped a photo of the arrangement and you can see some of our booth in the background (and upfront our brand new Hip Ink Couture business cards, which you’ll find out more about next Wednesday!):

image via Curly Girl Flowers Blog

The Wedluxe show really was a show like none other I’ve ever experienced – especially the amazing lounges put together for the show attendees. There was the “Love in Spades” Tea Room directly across from our booth, the Sterling Groom’s Lounge (the Man Cave as I called it) and the Beauty Boutique where brides-to-be could receive free manicures, make-up applications, free beauty products and free stationery! The the vendor set-ups were absolutely amazing. The cakes, the flowers, the invitations (we were one of 11 stationery companies exhibiting – that’s a lot of invites!), the accessories and headpieces, and the stunning tablescapes – it was a feast for the senses. And over 2000 people experienced it all in just 8 hours!

The show-stopper was literally the first thing you saw – the amazing flower entrance arch, made up of 1500 hanging ribbons with roses on the end (and yes, while we were setting up our booth, they were hanging those roses one-by-one by hand). So breathtaking in person, and I got to walk under about 20 times (lucky me!):

Photo by Verve Photo Co. via Wedluxe

We were able to participate in the show not just with our booth, but also through a collaboration with event planner Malvina Chevolleau from Fabulous Occasions as well as our stationery giveaway in the WedLuxe Beauty Boutique!

It was a pleasure to collaborate with Malvina on her WedLuxe tablescape, which was a gorgeous modern design with a cool grey, white and yellow colour scheme. We provided an invitation for display as well as screenprinted acrylic menus, oversize place cards (the ladies’ were embellished with handmade paper peonies), a table number printed on vellum which was wrapped around one of the centerpiece vases, and adorable clear packages with sequin “confetti”. I’ll even let you on a secret – the colour scheme and the printed items were actually based around Malvina’s new Fabulous Occasions logo and branding, and the tablescape created lots of buzz – especially our see-through menus, printed in white on clear acrylic, with a pop of bright yellow.

Here’s a photo from the show of the tablescape:

Photo by Verve Photo Co. via Wedluxe

And a closeup showing a bit more of our stationery designed especially for the show:

Photo by Tyler James Photography via Toronto Wedding Society

When we were asked to provide a stationery giveaway for the Wedluxe Beauty Boutique about 1000 ideas ran through my head, but I settled on something I knew every couple needs lots of  – versatile cards that can be used for thank yous, personal notes, etc. I asked talented calligrapher Laura Lavender to create some beautiful lettering (which said “From The Bride and Groom”) which we had letterpress printed in grey on a heavy cotton cardstock. We packaged them up with silver envelopes and tied them with an amazing peacock blue velvet ribbon and one of our brand new business cards. Hopefully the brides who were able to score a set put them to good use!

Here’s a photo where you can see our cards amongst the swag (top left):

Photo via WeddingObsession.com

We had a great time at the show, showing off our custom designs including silk box and silk folio invites and some of our most popular custom designs. We had amazing feedback from both brides and other vendors (and we had great neighbours – Alex from Life Images Photography and Konstadin from Cakes by Konstadin, and at the end of the day I was totally exhausted but so happy!

After the show, it was so fun to catch up with all the blogs that featured our work (both from our own booth and our collaboration with Fabulous Occasions).

Here’s a list of some of the blogs that featured us in their WedLuxe coverage (thanks all!):

The Wedding Blog by Devoted to You Wedding Planners

Wedding Obsession

Belle Amour

Holly Matrimony Weddings

Briderella

Gush Weddings and Events

Katia Trudeau

For some amazing photos from the event, check out the WedLuxe blog, which featured eight posts of amazing photos!

And last but not least, so you can’t say I never post any photos of myself, here’s one taken by the amazing Corina of Corina V. Photography when she visited the show:

See ya next year WedLuxe Wedding Show – we’ll definitely be back!

PS – Be sure to check back next week on Wednesday when I’ll have a recap of our show promo pieces – our new business cards, our stationery giveaway and our promo packages. Guaranteed eye candy!

Press: Our Bora Bora Boarding Pass featuring in Toronto Life Weddings 2012

January 11, 2012 § 2 Comments

 

A few weeks ago, as part of our Top 10 favourite Hip Ink invitations of the year, I posted about these boarding pass invitations – but I didn’t want to give *too* much away, as I knew that there was the possibility they may be published.

Well, I’m happy to say that our design was selected for a full page feature in Toronto Life’s 2012 Wedding edition (available now!) and they did an amazing job with the in-house photography!

Here’s a scan of the gorgeous photo:

Photo by Christopher Stevenson

I also wanted to post a couple more photos (taken by Corina V.) as well…

Here is a shot of the full suite:

The invitation suite included personalized boarding passes for each guest, a passport-style RSVP, luggage tags as well as a postcard inviting guests to a reception back in Ontario. The inspiration was a combination of retro 60s and vintage 40s travel inspiration, with an update modern execution.

We did a matching Save The Date as well, which featured the date in a bold stencil (which always reminds me of vintage shipping crates) and the addition of the striped twine added a sweet element the overall design.

A project close to my heart, as Tahiti is pretty much my favourite place in the world, and I am absolutely *dying* to go back. This one let me live vicariously…

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